New museum honors Philadelphia's St. John Neumann

Mark Abrams
April 28, 2019 - 4:00 am
Neumann Museum

Mark Abrams | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- A new museum telling the life story of Philadelphia's first saint is opening this week in North Philadelphia.

The Saint John Neumann Museum is located near 5th Street and Girard Avenue inside a new building adjacent to the shrine which holds the saint's remains.

Pat Hayes is the archivist for the Remptorist Fathers who played a large role in organizing the museum. He says a baptismal font at the beginning of the tour is a critical first stop.

"In the top of the font, you'll see an interactive display, illustrating not only Neumann's own early life and times in southern Bohemia, in what is today the Czech Republic, " Hayes said. "But visitors will also get to see how they can connect to the saint."

Neumann Museum
Mark Abrams | KYW Newsradio

Hayes says Neumann came to this country as a missionary priest and never expected to become the fourth bishop of Philadelphia.

He says during his short tenure, much was accomplished.

"He's credited with being the father of the parochial school system," Hayes explained. "But, let's face it, we have to share that honor with all of the sisters who helped him out."

Neumann Museum
Mark Abrams | KYW Newsradio

Neumann founded the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia and brought in several religious orders of sisters to help him carry out his goal of each parish having a school. 

Neumann died of a heart attack at the age of 49 in 1860. He was canonized a saint in 1977 by Pope John Paul II.