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John Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811 in Prachatitz, in the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic.

He received the sacrament of Baptism the same day.

He entered the seminary in 1831 and was ready to be ordained in 1835 when the bishop temporarily suspended ordinations due to an excess of priests in the country.

As a seminarian, John had been deeply inspired by the accounts of the missionaries among the German immigrants in North America, particularly by those of Father Barraga, who later became the first Bishop of Marquette.

 

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At the invitation of Bishop John DuBois of the diocese of New York, young Neumann sailed to the New World where he was ordained in what is now the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Until the age of twenty-nine, the young priest dedicated himself to missionary work in New York. At this time, with the permission of Bishop DuBois, he joined the Redemptorist Order becoming its first member to profess religious vows in America.

In 1852 Fr. John Neumann was consecrated the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. His ease with languages, of which he would come to know as many as eight, endeared him to the many immigrants arriving in the city.

He not only tended to immigrants in his native German, but speaking fluent Italian as well, he personally ministered to Italian newcomers in his private chapel, and went on to establish the first ethnic church for Italians in the country.

For the Irish, he studied enough Gaelic to be able to hear the confessions of those who spoke no English, an act of charity which the Irish government officially recognized by a posthumous award.

Gifted with great organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities.

He was the first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system, and during his tenure increased the schools in his diocese from one to one hundred.

His apostolic endeavors encompassed every facet of spiritual need: schools, catechesis, and apologetics, in short, all that involved the spiritual guidance of souls, their sacramental nourishment and their zealous defense against error.

He instituted the first Forty Hours devotion throughout his vast diocese, from whence it was taken up by others, spreading beyond the confines of the American continent.

Intensely devoted to the Virgin Mother of God, the “little bishop”, as he was sometimes affectionately referred to, was called upon for a singular privilege in her honor.

On December 8, 1854 when Pope Pius IX read the declaration defining the dogma of The Immaculate Conception, John Neumann held the book from which the pope read.  

Thus, his 5' 2" frame became the podium upon which rested the illustrious document describing the future patroness of the United States: The Immaculate Conception.

His efforts to expand Catholicism in America were not without opposition. On at least two occasions he wrote to Rome asking to be relieved of his bishopric but Blessed Pius IX insisted that he continue. And, like the Divine Master he so faithfully served, he persevered “until all [his] strength was exhausted, until the insupportable weight of the wood [of the cross] hurled [him] to the ground”.

While running errands on January 5, 1860, Bishop John Neumann collapsed and died in the streets of Philadelphia from a stroke. He was forty-eight.

He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on October 13, 1963 and canonized by the same pope on June 19, 1977. His remains rest in the church of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia where they are venerated by countless devotees.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 27, 2021

Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the g...

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January 27

 

Pray with great confidence, with confidence
based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God
and upon the promises of Jesus Christ.
God is a spring of living water
which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.

St. Louis de Montfort


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Angela Merici

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died wit...

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St. Angela Merici

Angela de Merici was born in Desenzano, on the southwestern shore of beautiful Lake Garda, in northern Italy. Left an orphan at the age of ten with an older sister and a brother, they were taken in by an uncle living in the neighboring town of Salò.

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died without the assistance of the last sacraments. At this time she had a vision, the first of many in her life, which set her mind at rest as to her sister’s salvation. In gratitude, she made a special consecration of herself to God, joined the Third Order of St. Francis and began to lead a life of great austerity.

After her uncle died when she was twenty, Angela moved back to Desenzano. Convinced of the need to instruct young girls in the Faith, she converted her home into a school. In a vision, she was shown that she would found a congregation for the instruction of young girls. Angela talked with fellow Franciscan tertiaries and friends who began to help her. Though petite in stature, Angela had looks, charm and leadership. Her school thrived and she was approached about starting a similar school in the larger city of Brescia where she came in contact with leading families whom she influenced with her great ideals.

In 1525 on a pilgrimage to Rome, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her holiness, suggested she found a congregation of nursing sisters in Rome. But Angela who felt called elsewhere and shunned publicity, declined and returned to Brescia.

On November 25, 1535, with twelve other virgins, Angela Merici laid the foundations for her order for the teaching of young women, the first congregation of its kind in the Church. She placed her order under the protection of St. Ursula the patroness of medieval universities and popularly venerated as a leader of women. To this day her followers are known as the Ursulines.

Angela died only five years after establishing the Ursulines, and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

Photo by: Benoit Lhoest

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a con...

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Our Lady and the Three Dresses

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

One day, their priest-confessor advised them that, as a preparation for the feast of the purification of Mary, they should recite the whole Rosary every day for forty days. The three nuns obediently complied.

On the night before that holy feast day, the Heavenly Mother appeared to the three nuns as they gathered in the choir. To the first of these three sisters she handed a rich garment, embroidered with gold. Holy Mary thanked her and blessed her.

She then handed to the second nun a much simpler garment, and also thanked her. Noticing the difference in the two garments, the second sister asked, "Oh Lady, why have you brought my sister a richer garment?" Mary Most Holy lovingly replied, "Because she has clothed me more richly with her prayers than you have done."

Mary then approached the third nun with a canvas garment. Being an observant young lady, this sister at once asked pardon for the half-hearted way in which she had prayed her rosaries.

A full year had passed when all three fervently prepared for the same feast, each saying her Rosary with great devotion. On the evening preceding the festival, Mary appeared to them in glory, and said to them: "Be prepared, for tomorrow you shall come to paradise."

The following morning dawned, full of promise. Each nun wondered if this would be her last day in this vale of tears. When evening came, would they retire to their modest cells once more, or did Holy Mary have something else in store for them?

The sisters related to their confessor what had occurred, and received communion in the morning. At the hour of compline (evening prayers) they saw again the most holy Virgin, who came to take them with her. Amid the songs of angels, one after the other sweetly expired.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

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