PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – To mark the 200th birthday of the first saint in the United States, who happens to have very close ties to Philadelphia, the Redemptorist priests who care for his shrine commissioned a special traveling exhibition.
Monday is the the actual anniversary of St. John Neumann’s birth in Bohemia in what was the Austrian Empire in 1811.
He served as the fourth bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and his remains rest at The Shrine of St. John Neumann beneath St. Peter the Apostle Church in North Philadelphia.
Louis DiCocco, of Liturgial Arts Studio in Havertown, was commissioned by the Redemptorists to design and oversee construction of what is called a reliquary.
“They were used to display the remains of saints. And, so that’s where it starts from. So, it looks somewhat like a casket, if you would, have having his remains part of that,” DiCocoo said.
The American Walnut box, handcrafted and assembled at DiCocco’s studio, will contain a relic or bone from the saint as well as a vestment he once wore and gloves that he was buried in.
Vinny Barbati, of Philly Case, was called in to make a traveling case for the reliquary.
“There’s no way I’m going to let anything happen to this box. It was too sacred. And we redesigned the case and we used extra foam blocks,” Barbati said.
The reliquary is set to travel throughout the archdiocese and beyond during this jubilee year.
Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio