Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Justin Rigali as his special envoy to the bicentennial celebration of the birth of St. John Nepomucene Neumann that will take place in Prachatitz, Czech Republic, on June 18. Below is the English translation of a letter written in Latin from the Holy Father to Cardinal Rigali for the occasion. {{more}}

To our Venerable Brother

Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, bishop and member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, exercised very diligent pastoral zeal in the United States of America for the spiritual and social progress of the faithful entrusted to him. He assisted the immigrants with counsel and charity and was thoroughly committed to the Christian instruction of young people. He, the first canonized Bishop of the United States, passed his infancy and youth in Bohemia. He was born on March 28, 1811 in the city of Prachatice in the diocese of Ceské Budejovice. He attended school in his native country, and then, feeling that he had a vocation to the priesthood, he entered the Seminary. He was ordained a priest in America in 1836, and after a few years of diligent pastoral ministry, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. In 1852 he was made Bishop of Philadelphia, and assiduously entered upon his episcopal labor, especially in promoting Catholic education and in teaching Christian doctrine.

Since the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of this zealous and outstanding Pastor and preacher of the truths of salvation is occurring, many initiatives are rightly being undertaken so that his virtues and way of life, which can profit the faithful of our age as well, may be better understood and known.

On this same occasion our Venerable Brother George Padour, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Ceské Budejovice, graciously asked us to designate a distinguished Cardinal to preside in our name at the principal celebrations in honor of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, and to offer words of spiritual encouragement. Since we wish to grant this devout request, we turn to you, our Venerable Brother, who zealously carry out the office of Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia, namely the ecclesial community once governed by the Saint. With this letter, then, we appoint you our Extraordinary Envoy to the celebrations of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann that will be solemnly held next June 18 in Prachatice. As you speak of this distinguished man of the Church and of his untiring activity, you will encourage all those who participate in the event to show by the example of their daily life and by the renewed zeal of their piety a special love for Christ and the Gospel.

In our name you will greet all the assembled Prelates, especially those of the Episcopal Conference of the Czech Republic, the public authorities, priests, men and women religious, and the Christian lay faithful, and make known to them our affectionate sentiments of goodwill.

In the fulfillment of your mission, Venerable Brother, we ourself will accompany you with our prayers, and through the intercession of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann we willingly impart to you our Apostolic Blessing, as a sign of our affection for you and a pledge of heavenly gifts. We wish you duly to transmit this blessing to all who participate in the celebrations.

From the Vatican, on the 8th day of May, in the year 2011, the seventh of our Pontificate.

Benedictus PP. XVI