Feast of St. Philip Neri (May 26)   2 comments

Above:  St. Philip Neri

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PHILIP ROMOLO NERI (JULY 22, 1515-MAY 27, 1595)

The Apostle of Rome and the Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory

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No bond but the bond of love.

–St. Philip Neri

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St. Philip Neri was a humble man given to self-deprecating humor and practical jokes.  He came from Italian nobility who had fallen on hard times; Francesco Neri, the father, was a notary at Florence who barely earned a living.  St. Philip was a pious young man who learned the humanities under the tutelage of Dominicans at Florence.  At the age of 16 years our saint went to San Germano, near Monte Cassino, to assist his father’s cousin, a businessman.  St. Philip, who frequently prayed in a Benedictine chapel, was on track to become the cousin’s heir when he left his family behind and went, penniless, to Rome, to pursue a religious calling.

For 17 years St. Philip lived as a layman in the Eternal City.  During much of that time he worked as the tutor to the sons of Galeotto Caccia, late of Florence.  In charge for those services our saint lived in a room and received an allowance of flour.  He also wrote poetry.  Furthermore, St. Philip studied philosophy at the Sapienza and theology with the Augustinians.  Eventually he sold his books and gave the money to the poor.  In 1544 or so St. Philip befriended St. Ignatius Loyola (1491/1495-1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus.  In the middle and late 1540s our saint lived as a hermit and an ascetic.  He reported occasional visions, which affected him profoundly.  One vision, from 1544, was of a globe of fire entering his heart.  This meant to our saint that God had enlarged his heart.  One piece of evidence of that compassion was the founding of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity, to care for convalescents and pilgrims, by St. Philip and his confessor, Persiano Rosa, in 1548.

Then, in 1551, at the urging of Rosa, St. Philip became a priest.  He took an interest in the lives of others, for their benefit.  In the mornings our saint heard confessions at the Church of San Girolamo.  On some mornings he heard 40 confessions before dawn.  In the afternoons St. Philip met informally with men and boys, engaging in leisure with them.  Our saint became the center of a religious community.  At meetings of this community, which consisted mostly of laymen, lay people spoke at length.  This fact led to false allegations of heresy–Protestantism, to be precise–against St. Philip.  Ecclesiastical authorities cleared him of charges.  In 1575 Pope Gregory XIII recognized this community as the Congregation of the Oratory.  Priests of the Congregation devoted themselves to preaching and teaching.

Along the way, while in Rome, other spiritual developments occurred in the life of St. Philip.  In the 1550s he pondered leaving the Eternal City for India.  With help he concluded that God was not calling him to serve as a missionary in the subcontinent.  Also, in 1562-1564 our saint struggled with an invitation to become the Rector of the Church of San Giovanni, Rome, the parish of Florentines there.  A papal compromise in 1564 led to St. Philip finally accepting that invitation while remaining at the Church of San Girolamo and sending five priests to represent him.

Meanwhile, the Church of San Maria, Vallicella, had been part of the holdings of the Congregation of the Oratory since 1575.  St. Philip, obeying a papal command, left the Church of San Girolamo, Rome, for Vallicella in 1583.  Pope Gregory XIV offered St. Philip the status of Cardinal in 1590; our saint politely declined.  St. Philip, aged 79 years, died of natural causes in Vallicella in 1595.

Pope Paul V beatified St. Philip in 1615.  Pope Gregory XV canonized him seven years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Philip Neri,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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2 responses to “Feast of St. Philip Neri (May 26)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis (July 14) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Pingback: Feast of Sts. John Leonardi and Joseph Calasanctius (October 9) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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