Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595)
“The Second Apostle of Rome.” Philip was born in Florence, Italy. As a young man, he felt called to leave all worldly pursuits and to set out for Rome. He did so with absolutely nothing, without money and plans. In those days, the city of Rome was rather corrupt and the Church there was in need of much reform Herself. After a few years, Philip began to assist and care for the poor pilgrims that came to Rome. He carried out this ministry for the next thirteen years. At the prompting of his confessor, Philip was ordained a priest at the age of thirty six. Much of Philip’s priestly ministry was dedicated to the confessional. With a spirit of great joy and humour, Philip sought to teach others about the faith and to instill devotion. However, due to false accusations, some of the devotions he led, and even his ability to hear confessions, were suspended for a time. With great humility, Philip accepted these prohibitions he was subjected to. Others, inspired by Philip, gathered around him to share in his work. From this was born the Congregation of the Oratory. Philip stands out as one of the great players in the Catholic Reformation, leading many in Rome (including among the hierarchy) to greater holiness of life. He spent his last day on earth in a spirit of great jubilation, hearing confessions and tending to visitors as was his custom. As a result of a severe hemorrhage, Philip died that night at the age of eighty.
Father, you continually raise up your faithful to the glory of holiness. In your love kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit who so filled the heart of Philip Neri.