Saint Of The Month
St. John Nepomucene Neumann, Bishop (A.D. 1860)
Born at Prachitz in Bohemia on March 28, 1811, John was the third of the six children of Philip, a German, and of Agnes, a Czech. He early showed signs of considerable intellectual ability, coupled to a wish to become a religious. He went to school in Budweis and then to the diocesan seminary in 1831. He continued his theological studies at the Charles Ferdinand University in Prague, whither he went in 1833, but on completion of his studies he was not ordained to serve his home diocese because of the great number of clergy already at work there.
For this reason he determined to leave Europe and to set out for the New World as a missionary. Soon after his arrival in New York he was accepted for ordination and was promptly ordained by Bishop James Dubois on June 25, 1836. He spent four years of pastoral work in and around Buffalo before joining the Redemptorists. For a short time he was in charge of the American vice-province of the order, though for most of the time he returned to parish work where his chief care was for the establishment of schools.
In 1852 Pope Pius IX appointed him Bishop of Philadelphia, and this office gave him yet great scope for his efforts to increase the system of parochial schools To staff them he attracted to the diocese a number of orders of teaching brothers and nuns, so that in a short time the population of his schools increased twenty-fold. He also erected a large number of new parishes, introduced the devotion of the Forty Hours, and began the building of the cathedral. Despite all this activity he still found time to write, including, usually anonymously, articles for newspapers. His most important works, however, he composed in German, his preferred language for composition even though he had a thorough grasp of seven other modern languages. The two catechisms he produced were in 1852, given the approval of the entire American hierarchy, and continued in wide use in the United States for most of the rest of the century.
He died, renowned for his sanctity and for his pastoral work, on January 5, 1860, on a street in Philadelphia. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
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