Roman Catholic Saint. On January 16, 1842, at the age of thirty, he became the first Redemptorist to make his vows in America. He is known as the Father of the Catholic education system in the United States. John Nepocemucene Neumann was born in Bohemia in 1811. As a youth he had a great desire toward a religious vocation in the priesthood. He completed his seminary studies in 1836, immigrated to the U.S. and was ordained at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the New York Diocese. His first pastoral assignment took him to the Niagara region of the state of New York. He served a group of small churches outside of Buffalo and spent every day, walking, and sometimes running from village to village: Williamsville, Kenmore, Cheektowaga, and East Aurora. 1842 found him working as a missionary and parish priest in Maryland and Pennsylvania. 1852 resulted in a call to be the Bishop of Pennsylvania. It was the largest diocese in the United States at the time. Bishop Neumann spent his days building schools and establishing orders of nuns. He was more taken up with ministering to the poor and those who needed him. John Neumann was a very small man, under five feet in height. In his 48 years of life, he managed to establish 80 churches and ten orders of nuns. He died in Philadelphia of consumption in 1860 and was buried unembalmed in a wooden casket under the floor of St. Peter of the Apostle Church. The grave was lined with bricks. In spite of wet conditions which existed in the grave, his remains were intact when exhumed in 1902 for the purpose of the required inspections for sainthood. The body was reentered in the same grave. In 1962: 102 years after his death, the Saint John Neumann shrine was constructed in the lower level of the Saint Peter of the Apostle Church. The body was again exhumed at the second stage of sainthood (Beatification) then revested with a face mask placed over the skull, and the body deposited in a class casket. The remains were then placed under the altar in the newly constructed shrine. The third process for sainthood was completed and Pope Paul VI canonized him into the ranks of the saints. In 1989, after more than 25 years since the body was placed in the glass casket, the archdiocese gave approval to renovate the shrine chapel, and to restore and place new vestments on the remains of Saint John Neumann. Over the years the old vestments had become stained and the face mask had yellowed and faded with age. The restoration was completed and the body was returned to its place under the altar of the newly refurbished Saint John Neumann shrine.
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