Tuesday, March 06, 2007

John Newman or John Neumann?

Have you ever wondered whether it's spelled Newman or Neumann? Or perhaps you knew these are two different men. But do you know who they were and which one was which? For years I tended to get them confused. At last, now that I attend a church where St. John Neumann was once a pastor, and now that I can do research on the internet, I can learn more about these two great men.

These two intelligent, dedicated saints lived during nearly the same years of the nineteenth century, but were an ocean apart.

St. John Nepomucene Neumann became a priest in his native Bohemia and then immigrated to the United States. Having studied Italian in the seminary, he pastored the first Catholic church in America where Italians could hear the sermon and go to Confession in their native tongue. Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman was born in London and became an Anglican priest. He later converted to Catholicism, and became a Catholic priest. He lived and died in Great Britain.

St. John Neumann, as Bishop of Philadelphia, was best known for establishing the 40 hour devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, and for beginning the parochial system of Catholic education in the United States. In the meantime, in England, Venerable John Newman was perhaps best known for his book, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, his explanation of his life and conversion.

St. John Neumann is commemorated at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia. He is commemorated in a lesser way in other places, such as St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, where a replica of the bedroom he used (while a pastor there) is preserved. Cardinal Newman is commemorated - in this country - by the Newman Centers on college campuses, which aid Catholic students in living their faith.

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