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The early bishop of Philadelphia has just been beatified and is expected to be canonized formally in the near future. American Catholics should certainly be interested in learning more about his heroic virtues. The book is written by a member of the Redemptorists- to which the bishop also belonged, and there is a glowing foreword by the present archbishop of the Philadelphia See. Unfortunately the book itself suffers from the usual deficiencies of such out-and-out books of praise. For example, the efforts to make the youthful period come alive through improbable dialogue and attribution of motives to actions meant to suggest that he was marked for sanctity even then give the book a false ring. Eventually the narrative does become believable and readable as the author uses factual evidence to substantiate his description. Probably, priests and seminarians who will take the time to look to this book will find inspiration for adapting themselves to living heroically as did this saint-to-be, Blessed John Neumann. The appeal of the book to the layman will be limited except for the intimate glimpses into the problems of the Church in the United States during that time.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1964
Publisher: Helicon