He was a bright guy–as many saints are–who felt called to the religious life when he was young. He became a seminarian and studied at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833. A strange thing happened a few years later when it was time for his ordination. The bishop was sick, and the ordination was never rescheduled simply because there were too many priests already! This didn’t make him happy, so he came to America to seek ordination here.
He came to New York in 1836 and the bishop there was glad to ordain him. A few years later he joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1840, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States.
He was found buried in the snow on January 5, 1860. He died before a priest could get to him with holy oils.
During his ministry, he built fifty churches and began building a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. He was the first American man and first American bishop to be canonized.
His shrine is in Philadelphia at St. Peter’s Church. He is in the basement, but below is a picture of the inside of the church. Just beautiful!
Prayer for his intercession
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.