Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: St. John Neumann: Saint In Glass

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Address:
1019 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia, PA
Directions:
Southeast corner of N. Fifth St. and Girard Ave., just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. SOUTHBOUND: I-95 exit 23. Follow Girard Ave. past 4th St., turn left onto Lawrence St. (one street before 5th St.) to parking lot. NORTHBOUND: I-95 exit 22. Stay in right lane. See 3rd Street at the bottom of the exit ramp. Move to the right lane and at 5th street, turn right. Park in Shrine lots on the right and left.
Hours:
M-Sa 7-6, Su 7-4:30; gift shop M-Sa 9-4, Su 10-3:30 (Call to verify)
Phone:
215-627-3080
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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St. John Neumann.

St. John Neumann: Saint In Glass
Bones of an American saint, laid out wearing his pointy bishop miter and robes. Slivers from his coffin are for sale in the gift shop. Roadsideamerica.com Report... [01/28/2013]

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St. John Neumann.

St. John Neumann Shrine

John Neumann, the American saint-under-glass on display in Philadelphia, has received a $4.5 million upgrade to the museum (and gift shop) next to his shrine, including an interactive baptismal font that illustrates his early life in what is now the Czech Republic.

Still on display in the new space are some of the classic exhibits from the old museum, including a noose from a hanged prisoner (Neumann performed the last rites) and the marble stoop on which Neumann died in 1860. He collapsed walking to the post office, just like Billy the Kid.

[RoadsideAmerica.com Team, 04/28/2019]

St. John Neumann.

St. John Neumann Shrine

That is only St. John Neumann's skeleton. They covered the bones with a silicone mask and bishop's clothes and gloves to cover the skeletal hands. So he is not preserved. Oil comes out of the bones and it is used to anoint the very sick. Yuck!! This is the only saint that really gives me the creeps. Every time I used to go there I could feel his presence. Pilgrims claim that he pulls them to his shrine like a magnet. Oh boy.

And by the way, Mother Cabrini is not preserved either. The figure in New York is also a mask and nun's clothing to cover her spinal cord. The rest of her body is spread throughout places all about the USA.

If anyone is a little psychic and visits the Neumann Shrine, they will sense all kinds of weird things there. In November, when I last visited the shrine I could feel the saint's spirit following me.

[Marilyn Carrier, 03/11/2009]

The Ballistic Bishop.

Saint John Neumann Shrine

Philadelphia should be called the City of Saints and not the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia and its suburbs are the final resting places of two Catholic saints. The more macabre of the two is the Shrine of St John Neumann. You can actually see the saint, or at least his well-preserved body "under glass" inside the altar in a church in the Northern Liberties section of the city.

In fact, the shrine's official website (www.stjohnneumann.org) boasts that "St. John Neumann's remains rest under the altar, where mass is offered daily." Being born and raised Catholic, my mother had taken me to the shrine a few times. I can remember being 5 or 6 years old and wondering why the heck they stuck this guy in a glass box and made an altar out of it. Twenty-five years later, I still ask myself the same question.

The other Philadelphia saint who's bones are resting near Philadelphia (Bensalem, PA) is one of the newest saints in the Catholic Church's arsenal. St. Mother Katherine Drexel founded an order of nuns who fed, clothed and educated the poor, especially the "negro and Indian children" a hundred years ago.

Mother Drexel came from a very wealthy and connected Philadelphia family. She gave up all of her family's worldly wealth, or at least that which was bequeathed her from her father's vast estate. She used her inheritance to help the less fortunate. She was also a cousin of Jackie Kennedy. You can visit her shrine online at www.katherinedrexel.org.

Whether you are Catholic, or not, these two shrines make great stops on any Roadside America trip.

[Robert Sammons, 08/18/2002]

Interment in altars is a European religious custom which Americans aren't all that comfortable with closer to home. NYC's Mother Cabrini is the only other American saint we know of who is on display. We wrote about the St. John Neumann Shrine and museum in the New Roadside America, and have since learned the fine distinction between a vacation souvenir and a revered religious relic.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Edgar Allan Poe House - Hideous HeartEdgar Allan Poe House - Hideous Heart, Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
Bolt of Lightning: Bad ArtBolt of Lightning: Bad Art, Philadelphia, PA - 1 mi.
Ben Franklin Bust of KeysBen Franklin Bust of Keys, Philadelphia, PA - 1 mi.
In the region:
Lights of Liberty Spectacularama, Philadelphia, PA - 1 mi.

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