Saturday, January 05, 2013

A Saintly Philadelphian

The USA's first male citizen to be canonized a Saint is John Neumann the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. Neumann was born in Bohemia. He studied there for the priesthood and was ordained in New York City. He was a gifted linguist and became a missionary to the far flung areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and possibly Virginia. He trugged on foot to bring the consolation of the sacraments to immigrants and native born Americans in farming and mining communities, besides in the larger cities such as New York and Philadelphia.
Neumann joined a religious order, the Redemptorists, to help his own spiritual life and to have the support of a like-minded community. Even though the notorious "Know Nothing" Party tried to hinder his work, Neumann established the practice of the "40 Hours" devotion throughout the Philadelphia diocese. That Eucharistic devotion endures today not only in Philadelphia but thoughout the USA. Mother Seton began private Catholic schools. To reinforce catechetical learning and provide solid education to young Catholics, Neumann organized the parochial Catholic school system in his vast diocese. Millions of young people benefited from the schools Neumann and his successors founded in Pennsylvania and beyond.
The long-lasting famous Baltimore Catechism owed much to the contributions of Neumann.
Neumann was a man of deep prayer, self discipline and great kindness.
The Church of St. Peter at 5th and Girard in Philadelphia houses the Shrine of St. John Neumann.
There is a small museum with articles used by the Saint, and even a picture of him as a young boy. His remains are in the lower church encased in glass under the altar. His example and intercession are available to all Catholics throughout the world, but especially to the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. St. John Neumann pray for us!

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