Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint John Neumann (1811–1860)

Saint John Neumann (1811–1860)

Patron saint of sick children and of immigrants

Feast day: January 5

Saint John Neumann was born in Bohemia around the year 1811. He desired to become a priest in his home country, but because there were so many priests in Bohemia at the time, he was denied. However, John persevered and was eventually ordained in New York. He was assigned to a rural parish in western New York and spent much of his time visiting neighboring villages, tending to the sick, teaching the Good News, and celebrating Mass.

John craved the companionship that a religious community offered, so he joined the Redemptorists, a group of priests and brothers who were devoted to ministering to the poor. As a member of the Redemptorists, he took a vow of poverty. John took this vow seriously and gave away everything he owned; he didn't even have a spare pair of shoes.

He was selected as bishop of Philadelphia and was the first person to establish a diocesan Catholic school system. Even after founding a very successful diocesan Catholic school system, John did not forgo his love of ministering to the poor and ailing. Saint John Neumann died in 1860 and was the first American bishop to be beatified and canonized. 

(Image in public domain-70)