Perhaps because the United States got a later start in the history of the world, it has
relatively few canonized saints, but their number is increasing.
John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic.
After studying in Prague, he came to New York at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary
work in New York until he was 29, when he joined the Redemptorists and became its first member to
profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio,
where he became popular with the Germans.
At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into
a diocesan one, increasing the number of pupils almost twentyfold within a short
Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of
sisters and the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the
Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial movement.
Well-known for his
holiness and learning, spiritual writing and preaching, on October 13, 1963, John Neumann became the
first American bishop to be beatified. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle
Church in Philadelphia.