Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Today is the feast day of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann


•28 March 1811 at Prachititz, Bohemia (Czech Republic)

•5 January 1860 of a stroke at 13th and Vine Streets, Bishop of Philadephia, Pennsylvania, USA

•11 December 1921 by Pope Benedict XV (decree on heroic virtues)

•13 October 1963 by Pope Paul VI at Rome, Italy

•19 June 1977 by Pope Paul VI

Merciful Father, You have given me all that I have in this world, even life itself. In all my daily needs, help me to remember the needs of others too. Make me aware of the need to pray to You not just for myself but for the Church, the Pope, for the clergy and for people who suffer any need. Make me as selfless as Saint John Nuemann. Throughout my life, give me the grace to direct my first thoughts to the service of You and of others. Make my prayer - “Your will be done” knowing that in Your mercy and love, Your will for me is my sanctification. I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann:Pray for us on this day of your death, you were a interesting and thoughtful man in the world of theology, rest in peace! remembering you after 141 years, happy feast day also!

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R., (Czech: Jan Nepomucký Neumann, German: Johannes Nepomuk Neumann, 28 March 1811 – 5 January 1860) was a Redemptorist missionary to the United States who became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60) and the first American bishop (and thus far the only male citizen) to be canonized. While Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States.

Bishop of Philadelphia: In March 1852 Neumann was consecrated in Baltimore, as Bishop of Philadelphia. He was the first bishop in the United States to organize a Catholic diocesan school system, and he increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from one to one hundred. His construction campaign extended to parish churches as well.

He actively invited religious orders to establish new houses within the diocese and founded a congregation of Franciscan Sisters, the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Philadelphia. He brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staffing an orphanage and intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence from dissolution. He established and built so many new parish churches within the diocese that one was completed almost at the rate of one every month.

His facility with languages endeared him to the many new immigrant communities in the city. As well as ministering to newcomers in his native German, he also spoke Italian fluently and ministered personally to a growing congregation of Italian-speakers in his private chapel. He eventually established the first Italian national parishes in the country for them.

Neumann's efforts to expand the Catholic Church throughout his diocese was not without opposition. The Know Nothings, an anti-Catholic political party, was at the height of its activities, setting fire to convents and schools. Discouraged, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but he received a reply from Pope Pius IX insisting that he continue.

In 1854, Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St. Peter's Basilica on December 8, along with 53 cardinals, 139 other bishops, and thousands of priests and laity, when Pope Pius IX solemnly defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

While running errands on January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a city street, due to a stroke. He was 48 years old. Bishop James Frederick Wood, who had been appointed his coadjutor with right of succession, then took office as Bishop of Philadelphia. Neumann's date of death, January 5, is now celebrated as his feast day in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America.


The first step toward proclamation of Neumann as a saint was his being declared ""Venerable"" by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on 13 October 1963, and was canonized by that same pope on 19 June 1977. His feast days are January 5 on the Roman calendar for the general Church and March 5 in the Czech Republic.

Following his canonization, the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann was constructed at the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia. The remains of St. John Neumann rest under the altar of the shrine within a glass-walled reliquary.

In 1980, Our Lady of the Angels College, founded by the congregation of Franciscan Sisters he had founded and located within the archdiocese, was renamed Neumann College. It was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2009

Jubilee Year: In 2011, the Redemptorists will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Neumann. The Neumann Year will run through June 23, 2012


Lived 1811 - 1860
First male Canonized Saint from the United States
Known for lifetime of pastoral work, particularly among German and Italian immigrants
Establishing the first system of parochial schools in America
Founder of Sisters of St. Francis
Organized first diocesan schedule of Forty Hours' Devotion
First Redemptorist Priest in America.
Fourth Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
Feast day - January 5
John Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811 in Bohemia, the Czech portion of the present Czechoslovakia. He graduated from a nearby college in Bohemia and then applied to the seminary. John distinguished himself not only in his theological studies, but also in the natural sciences. Besides mastering Latin, Greek and Hebrew, he learned to speak fluently at least eight modern languages, including various Slavic dialects

During his seminary days, John read with great interest the quarterly reports of the Missionary Society of St. Leopold containing accounts of the pioneering work being done in the United States. On February 8, 1836, he left his native home and started the trip across Europe on foot. Several months later, he set sail for New York aboard a three-masted sailing ship loaded to capacity with emigrants. Six weeks later, the ship entered the harbor of New York.

A few days after arriving in New York, John Neumann sought out and met the bishop, John Dubois. Bishop Dubois had only 36 priests to care for 200,000 Catholics living in all of New York State and half of lower New Jersey. In June of 1836, the bishop ordained John Neumann as a sub-deacon, a deacon, and as a priest, all within one week’s time. The following week he was pastor of the whole Niagara Frontier, some one hundred square miles of swampy primeval forest.

Father John Neumann devoted himself to the pastoral care of all the outlying areas in his parish for four years. From his headquarters near Buffalo, he made frequent journeys on foot in all kinds of weather to points ten or twenty miles away, visiting the settlers on their scattered farms. Many German immigrants had settled this sector of the diocese and were in danger of losing the Faith. He built churches, raised log schools where possible and even taught school himself to the German and Irish children in the area.

Father Neumann's strenuous work and pace soon took a toll and his health began to suffer. He decided to join the Redemptorists Missionary Order and was the first person to make his religious profession as a Redemptorist in America in 1842 at the Church of St. James in Baltimore. Before his elevation to Bishop of Philadelphia at the age of 41, he served as rector of St. Philomena Church in Pittsburgh, and St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, as well as vice-provincial of the Redemptorists Missionary Order in America. He was consecrated Bishop of Philadelphia by Archbishop Francis Kenrick at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore in 1852.

At that time, the Diocese of Philadelphia was the largest Diocese in America, comprising eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey, and all of Delaware. Bishop Neumann was the first Bishop in the United States to introduce the Forty Hours Devotion in his diocese. He actively promoted the establishment of parochial schools and increased the number of schools in his Diocese from two schools in 1852, to nearly one hundred by 1860. Through his work with parochial schools, he helped the Notre Dame Sisters of Munich become firmly established in the United States. He may also lay claim to being founder of a religious order for women, the Third Order of St. Francis of Glen Riddle, whose Rule he drafted in 1855 after returning from Rome for the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Though Bishop Neumann had suffered from frequent illnesses, his sudden death by stroke on January 5, 1860 at the age of 48, was completely unexpected.

The cause of his beatification was begun in 1886. Ten years later, he received the title of Venerable. In February, 1963, Pope John XXIII issued the proclamation for his Beatification, but the ceremony was delayed by the death of Pope John. Pope Paul VI Beatified him on October 13th. His Canonization followed in June of 1977.

Prayer to Saint John Neumann:
O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father's House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

National Shrine to Saint John Neumann:
The National Shrine is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Shrine includes his remains which, remarkably well preserved after a century of interment, were exhumed and placed in a glass encasement beneath the altar in the church.

Almost immediately after his death, devout souls were drawn to his grave. More than a few claiming extraordinary miracles of grace though his intercession. It was as though John Neumann, now dead, continued his works of mercy among his people. For decades this unsolicited devotion continued. Finally after many years and many incontrovertible miracles worked through the intercession of this holy man, he was Canonized a Saint in 1977.

Now pilgrims come from all over the world. From his native Bohemia, from Germany and Holland they come to claim allegiance to one of their own. Pope John Paul II made a point to visit the Shrine when he came to Philadelphia to attend the Eucharistic Congress. Various Irish Societies of Philadelphia have made formal pilgrimages to the tomb of this humble man of God who, as bishop, did so much for their immigrant forebears in the 1850's -- this "foreigner" who went to the trouble of studying enough Irish to be able to hear the confessions of those who "had no English," in the coal regions of nineteenth century Pennsylvania.

Those of Italian extraction remember Bishop Neumann as the founder of the first national parish for Italians in the United States. At a time when there was no priest to speak their language, no one to care for them, Bishop Neumann, who had studied Italian as a seminarian in Bohemia, gathered them together in his private chapel and preached to them in their native tongue. In 1855 he Purchased a Methodist Church in South Philadelphia, dedicated it to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and provided one of his seminary professors, to be the pastor.

"Among the shepherds of the flock in Philadelphia," wrote the late Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, "the figure of Venerable John Neumann is pre-eminent. It was mainly through his prodigious efforts that a Catholic school system came into being and that parochial schools began to rise across the land. His holy life, his childlike gentleness, his hard labor and his tremendous foresight is still fresh and green among you. The tree planted and watered by Bishop Neumann now gives you its fruit."

Canonization of John Nepomucene Neumann
Homily of Pope Paul VI
Sunday, 19 June 1977

Greetings to you, Brethren, and sons and daughters of the United States of America! We welcome you in the name of the Lord!
The entire Catholic Church, here, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, welcomes you with festive joy. And together with you, the entire Catholic Church sings a hymn of heavenly victory to Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, who receives the honor of one who lives in the glory of Christ.
In a few brief words we shall describe for the other pilgrims some details of his life, which are already known to you.
We ask ourselves today: what is the meaning of this extraordinary event, the meaning of this canonization? It is the celebration of holiness. And what is holiness? It is human perfection, human love raised up to its highest level in Christ, in God.
At the time of John Neumann, America represented new values and new hopes. Bishop Neumann saw these in their relationship to the ultimate, supreme possession to which humanity is destined. With Saint Paul he could testify that “all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22). And with Augustine he knew that our hearts are restless, until they rest in the Lord (S. AUGUSTINI Confessiones, 1, 1).
His love for people was authentic brotherly love. It was real charity: missionary and pastoral charity. It meant that he gave himself to others. Like Jesus the Good Shepherd, he lay down his life for the sheep, for Christ’s flock: to provide for their needs, to lead them to salvation. And today, with the Evangelist, we solemnly proclaim : “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Io. 15, 13).
John Neumann’s pastoral zeal was manifested in many ways. Through faithful and persevering service, he brought to completion the generosity of his initial act of missionary dedication. He helped children to satisfy their need for truth, their need for Christian doctrine, for the teaching of Jesus in their lives. He did this both by catechetical instruction and by promoting, with relentless energy, the Catholic school system in the United States. And we still remember the words of our late Apostolic Delegate in Washington, the beloved Cardinal Amleto Cicognani: “You Americans”, he said, “possess two great treasures: the Catholic school and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Guard them like the apple of your eye” (Cfr. Epistola 2 iunii 1963).
And who can fail to admire all the loving concern that John Neumann showed for God’s people, through his priestly ministry and his pastoral visitations as a Bishop? He deeply loved the Sacramental of Reconciliation: and like a worthy son of Saint Alphonsus he transmitted the pardon and the healing power of the Redeemer into the lives of innumerable sons and daughters of the Church. He was close to the sick; he was at home with the poor; he was a friend to sinners. And today he is the honor of all immigrants, and from the viewpoint of the Beatitudes the symbol of Christian success.
John Neumann bore the image of Christ. He experienced, in his innermost being, the need to proclaim by word and example the wisdom and power of God, and to preach the crucified Christ. And in the Passion of the Lord he found strength and the inspiration of his ministry: Passio Christi conforta me!
The Eucharistic Sacrifice was the center of his life, and constituted for him what the Second Vatican Council would later call “the source and summit of all evangelization” (Presbiterorum Ordinis, 5). With great effectiveness, through the Forty Hours Devotion he helped his parishes become communities of faith and service.
But to accomplish his task, love was necessary. And love meant giving; love meant effort; love meant sacrifice. And in his sacrifice, Bishop Neumann’s service was complete. He led his people along the paths of holiness. He was indeed an effective witness, in his generation, to God’s love for his Church and the world.
There are many who have lived and are still living the divine command of generous love. For love still means giving oneself for others, because Love has come down to humanity; and from humanity love goes back to its divine source! How many men and women make this plan of God the program of their lives! Our praise goes to the clergy, religious and Catholic laity of America who, in following the Gospel, live according to this plan of sacrifice and service. Saint John Neumann is a true example for all of us in this regard. It is not enough to acquire the good things of the earth, for these can even be dangerous, if they stop or impede our love from rising to its source and reaching its goal. Let us always remember that the greatest and the first commandment is this: “You shall love the Lord your God” (Matth. 22, 36).
True humanism in Christianity. True Christianity-we repeat -is the sacrifice of self for others, because of Christ, because of God. It is shown by signs; it is manifested in deeds. Christianity is sensitive to the suffering and oppression and sorrow of others, to poverty, to all human needs, the first of which is truth.
Our ceremony today is indeed the celebration of holiness. At the same time, it is a prophetic anticipation-for the Church, for the United States, for the world-of a renewal in love: love for God, love for neighbor.
And in this vital charity, beloved sons and daughters, let us go forward together, to build up a real civilization of love.
Saint John Neumann, by the living power of your example and by the intercession of your prayers, help us today and for ever.

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