St. Peter the Apostle Parish: Home to the Neumann Shrine
In 1841 the German Catholic community of Philadelphia was outgrowing its small parish church, Holy Trinity, on 6th & Spruce Streets. The expanding population was moving northward, beyond the old limits of the city, and the German Catholics wanted the Church to follow them. The immigrants petitioned their bishop, Francis Kenrick, for a parish church in their new neighborhood. Seeing the faithful people’s need, the bishop invited the Redemptorists to come to the diocese and assist their fellow German speakers. In keeping with their mission to preach the gospel to the most abandoned, the Redemptorists said “Yes” to serving an immigrant church. They bought land in 1842 and worked with the bishop and the people to found the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle. They began holding church services in a wooden building on the property in 1843, while they quickly went about constructing the magnificent edifice we see on the corner of 5th & Girard today. These many years later, the Redemptorists are still hard at work at St. Peter’s.
St. John Neumann never lived at St. Peter’s, but he visited the parish regularly, both before and during his time as the bishop of Philadelphia. He was the superior of the Redemptorist mission in America when St. Peter’s permanent church building was consecrated in 1847, and as bishop of Philadelphia he often visited his confreres at St. Peter’s for retreat days and recreation, as well as for pastoral activity. In fact, St. John Neumann celebrated the midnight Mass for Christmas at St. Peter’s just a few days before he died in January of 1860.
It was after his death that St. John Neumann came to St. Peter’s in a more permanent capacity. As his funeral services ended, St. John Neumman’s Redemptorist confreres received his body and lowered him reverently into a grave in the basement of St. Peter’s Church. They marked his tomb with a marble slab, a memorial that you can still see set in the sanctuary floor of the Shrine, the lower church of St. Peter’s. St. John Neumann’s body has remained at St. Peter’s ever since, where it awaits the joyful day of the resurrection for all the faithful.
Of course, if you visit the Shrine, you will quickly notice that the saint’s body is no longer interred under the floor of our lower church. The body now lies in state, enclosed in glass under the altar at the Shrine. Each time we celebrate Mass at our Shrine altar we are reminded of our intimate communion with not only St. John Neumann, but with all the saints who have gone before us and who continue to support and sustain us with their prayerful intercession.
The Sacrament of Baptism is administered monthly. Arrangements are made in advance at the Rectory. Sponsors must provide proof of eligibility by a letter from their respective pastors, and must have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. Parents attend a Pre-Jordan meeting prior to baptism, which is arranged at a mutually convenient time. Contact the parish office for more details. The Guidelines for Sponsors for Baptism & Confirmation are available here. The Registration form for Baptism is available here.
Contact the Office of Religious Education for details.
Arrangements must be made with the pastor at least six months before the date of the wedding. Pre-Cana instructions are required. Couples should contact the church rather than parents or wedding coordinators. If either party was previously married, an annulment must be granted prior to the selection of a future wedding date.
Contact the pastor for details. The Wedding Guidelines are available here. If you would like to speak to the pastor about scheduling your wedding, please fill out and return the Contact and Sacrament Information for Weddings form.
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is the normal means of entry to the Catholic Church for adults who have not been baptized, or who are Christian but desire to become Catholic. For information on how you might participate in the RCIA, please contact the Office of Religious Education. The RCIA Registration form (English & Spanish) is available here.
Parish Registration Form Fill out a member form for each person in the household.