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Saint Philip Neri - Apostle Of Rome And Founder Of The Congregation Of The Oratory

Item Number: 119

Catalog Code: 9780895552372

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Philip Neri

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Saint Philip Neri: Apostle of Rome by  Fr. V. J. Matthews


"Rome is to be your Indies." With these words from a saintly monk, St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) was given his vocation-not to the far-off missions, but to the City of Rome. At the beginning of the 16th century, Rome was corrupt and lukewarm, and the people lived in a state of spiritual laxity. But by the end of the century, Rome was a different city, largely because of one man - St. Philip Neri.

At the age of 29, while praying most earnestly for the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, Philip had an extraordinary experience of divine love, and from that time on there began a palpitation of his heart which lasted the rest of his life. At times it became so violent that it shook his chair, his bed, or even his whole room. Ever after, he also felt a sense of burning heat in the region of his heart and throat, so that he was always trying to keep cool by opening windows and unbuttoning his cassock. After his death, his heart was found to be so enlarged that the two ribs over his heart were broken and arched outwards-they had been thus for 50 years!

Fired with the love of God, Philip converted and sanctified innumerable souls by preaching in the marketplaces, by hearing confessions and directing souls, by counseling bishops and popes, by caring for the sick in the primitive hospitals of the day, by ministering to needy pilgrims and by performing miracles-he even raised a young boy from the dead - as well as by going to search out wayward souls who did not recognize their own spiritual need. Thus it was that he earned the title "The Apostle of Rome."

Philip was the day's greatest practical joker, but always with a point to be learned. The distinctive mark of his apostolate was cheerfulness: "I will have no melancholy, no low spirits in my house" he used to say. Everyone was captivated by his supernatural charm, and during his lifetime all Rome venerated him as a saint, consulted him as an oracle, and almost ceased to wonder at his miracles. By all that he did to sanctify Rome, St. Philip Neri exerted an incalculable influence for good upon the Universal Church, which owes him - even to our own time - a debt of unimaginable magnitude.

Imprimatur: Joseph Butt, Vicar General of Westminster, 7/19/1934


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St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 05/26

Patron Of: Rome, United States Army Special Forces

Also known as
    Philip Romolo Neri
    Apostle of Rome
    Amabile Santo

    26 May

    Though he was related to Italian nobility, Philip came from a poor family. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip's brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. Pius youth. Taught humanities by the Dominicans.

    Moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. Received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome. Cut himself off from his family, and went there.

    Befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in, and paid him to tutor his two sons. Wrote poetry in Latin and Italian. Studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

    Began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. Founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. Friend of Saint Ignatius. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catecomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

    With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550 he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

    Entered the priesthood in 1551. Heard confessions by the hour. Could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of confering visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.

    Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

    "Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits." -Saint Philip Neri

    22 July 1515 at Florence, Italy

    27 May 1595

Name Meaning
    lover of horses (Philip)

    11 May 1615 by Pope Paul V

    12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV


    * Gravina, Italy
    * Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, archdiocese of
    * Rome, Italy
    * United States Army Special Forces

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.

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