The Institute for Christian Formation
Saint John Neumann
Feast Day (Memorial): January 5
John Neumann is another saint whose feast day always falls within the Christmas Season. The Catholic Church in the United States celebrates his feast day (an obligatory Memorial) each year on January 5.
Saint John Neumann was born in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) in 1811. He immigrated to the United States in 1836, when he was 25 years old. A man of short stature, he had great ambitions. He wanted to be a priest.
He arrived in New York with the clothes he was wearing and his books. He had studied in Prague, but was told there were already enough priests in his native country. He could speak a number of languages, and when he was ordained a priest, the Bishop of New York assigned him to do mission work in the New York area. He was able to do much good working with immigrants, as he was one of them and could speak to them in their native languages.
After several years, John Neumann yearned for community and joined the Redemptorist Order, continuing to do missionary work. The Redemptorist Order is dedicated to serving the poor and abandoned. In 1847 John became the head of this order, and in 1852 John was appointed the bishop of Philadelphia. Many of the wealthy people of Philadelphia didn’t think John was cultured enough to be their bishop. But he was a holy man, and continued on his mission to serve. He was a great promoter of the Catholic parochial school system, and he also published two catechisms.
On January 5, 1860, Bishop Neumann collapsed on the street in Philadelphia and died. He was beatified on October 13, 1963 and canonized on June 19, 1997. You can access an online biography of John Neumann, which includes a slide show, here. Here is one source for holy cards of Saint John Neumann. Below is a brief video about Saint John Neumann, by the Apostleship of Prayer. As Saint John Neumann’s feast day is in the Christmas Season, sing a Christmas Carol as you celebrate his feast. As a Redemptorist who served the poor and abandoned, perhaps “Away in a Manger” would be an appropriate carol, as we sing of the infant Jesus who did not even have a crib as a bed. You can download this hymn here.