|The Right Reverend
John Neumann, C.Ss.R.
|Bishop of Philadelphia|
|Native name||Jan Nepomucký Neumann|
|Appointed||13 February 1852|
|Installed||28 March 1852|
|Term ended||5 January 1860|
|Predecessor||Francis Patrick Kenrick|
|Successor||James Frederick Bryan Wood|
|Ordination||25 June 1836
by John Dubois, S.S.
|Consecration||28 March 1852
by Francis Patrick Kenrick
|Birth name||John Nepomucene Neumann|
28 March 1811|
Prachatitz, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austrian Empire
|Died||January 5, 1860
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Alma mater||Charles University in Prague|
|Coat of arms|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
(United States and
the Czech Republic)
|Title as Saint||Missionary, religious and Bishop|
|Beatified||13 October 1963
by Pope Paul VI
|Canonized||19 June 1977
by Pope Paul VI
|Attributes||Redemptorist habit with a pectoral cross|
|Shrines||National Shrine of Saint John Neumann, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Ordination history of John Neumann|
|Ordained by||John Dubois, S.S.|
|Date of ordination||25 June 1836|
|Place of ordination||Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York, United States|
|Principal consecrator||Francis Kenrick|
|Date of consecration||28 March 1852|
John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. (Czech: Jan Nepomucký Neumann, German: Johannes Nepomuk Neumann; 28 March 1811–5 January 1860), was a native of Bohemia who emigrated to the United States where he became a Redemptorist Catholic priest and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60). He is 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.
Neumann was born in Prachatitz, in the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic. He attended school in České Budějovice before entering the seminary there in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the Charles University in Prague, where he studied theology, though he was also interested in astronomy and botany. His goal was to be ordained to the priesthood, and he applied for this after completing his studies in 1835. His bishop, however, had decided that there would be no more ordinations for the time being, as Bohemia had a high number of priests.
Neumann traveled to the United States with the hope of being ordained. He was received by Bishop John Dubois, S.S., into the Diocese of New York, which at that time covered a large territory, covering all of the State of New York and half of New Jersey.
Neumann was ordained in June 1836 at what is now the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. After his ordination, Bishop Dubois assigned Neumann to work with recent German immigrants in the Niagara Falls area, where there were no established parish churches. He traveled the countryside and visited the sick, taught catechism, and trained teachers to take over when he left. His first assignment was the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsville, New York. From there he took up full-time residence in North Bush (now part of Tonawanda) as the first pastor of St. John the Baptist Church (1836–40). It was from here that he carried out his missionary works.
In 1840, with the permission of Dubois, he applied to join the Redemptorist Fathers, was accepted, and entered their novitiate at St. Philomena's Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was their first candidate in the New World. He took his religious vows as a member of the congregation in Baltimore, Maryland, in January 1842. After six years of difficult but fruitful work, he was appointed the Provincial Superior for the United States. Neumann became naturalized as a citizen of the United States in Baltimore on 10 February 1848.
Bishop of Philadelphia
On 5 February 1852 Neumann was appointed the Bishop of Philadelphia by the Holy See and was consecrated on 28 March by Bishop Dubois. He was the first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system and served a large and expanding Irish immigrant population of Catholics, to be followed by Italians and other Catholic Europeans. During his administration, he increased the number of parochial schools in his diocese from one to two hundred. His construction campaign extended to parish churches as well. He established and built so many new parish churches within the diocese that they were completed almost at the rate of one a month.
Neumann actively invited religious institutes to establish new houses within the diocese. In 1855, he supported the foundation of a congregation of religious sisters in the city, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. He brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staffing an orphanage. He also intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a congregation for African-American women, from dissolution.
Neumann's 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 was notorious for his frugality. He kept and wore only one pair of boots throughout his residence in the United States. When given the gift of a new set of vestments, he would often use them to fit the newest ordained priest in the diocese.
Neumann's efforts to expand the Catholic Church throughout his diocese was not without opposition. The Know Nothings, an anti-Catholic political party representing descendants of earlier immigrants to North America, was at the height of its activities. They set fire to convents and schools. Discouraged, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but Pope Pius IX insisted 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 doing errands on 5 January 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, took office as Bishop of Philadelphia.
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 5 January, the date of his death, on the Roman calendar for the Church in the United States of America, and 5 March in the Czech Republic.
After 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.
In 2011, the Redemptorist Fathers celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Neumann. The Neumann Year lasted until June 23, 2012.
- "Homily preached by Pope Paul VI at the canonization of Saint John Neumann", 1977, Vatican website
|Catholic Church titles|
Francis Patrick Kenrick
|Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
February 5, 1852–January 5, 1860
James Frederick Bryan Wood