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John Neumann

A separate article treats the mathematician John von Neumann, unrelated to this John Neumann.

John Neumann (March 28 1811-January 5 1860) was the first United States citizen to become a saint.

Neumann was born in Bohemia and attended school in Budweis before entering its seminary in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the University of Prague, where he studied theology. He intended to be ordained, but the Bishop of Bohemia, in 1835, decided there would be no more ordinations, as Bohemia had a high number of priests already.

Neumann, who spoke six languages, then wrote to other bishops in Europe, but they all replied that they had too many priests. Because he had learned English by working in a factory with English-speaking workers, Neumann wrote to bishops in America, requesting to become ordained in the United States.

Neuman moved to New York with hardly any money and was ordained in June 1836. He was assigned to mission churches near Buffalo, New York until he decided to apply to the Redemptorists. In January 1842, he took his vows in Baltimore, Maryland and became the first redemptorist of the new world. Neumann was naturalized in Baltimore on February 10, 1848.

In March 1852, John was consecrated in Baltimore, as Bishop of Philadelphia. He was the first to organize a diocesan Catholic school system and increased the number of Catholic schools in his diocese from two to one hundred.

John Neumann collapsed and died in a Philadelphia street at age 48. He was canonized in June 1977.