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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 April 19, 2021

He asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise....

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April 19

 

A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life. 
A man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom. 
A thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. 
 
One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul 
purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption. 
 

But in the Divine plan it was a thief 
who was the escort of the King of kings 
into Paradise.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Alphege of Canterbury

Alphege hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing...

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St. Alphege of Canterbury

As a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop, he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars left in the diocese of Winchester.

Alphege served twenty-two years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.

During this period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre, men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.

The Archbishop hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized, roughly handled, and imprisoned.

A mysterious and deadly plague broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price, he was brutally assassinated.

St. Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

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

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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