Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Good Philip

In Florence, on the 22nd of July in the year 1515 Philip Neri, the eldest of four children was born into a family of modest wealth but of Tuscan nobility. His father, Francesco was a notary and had a friendship with the Dominicans of Florence. It was this early relationship with the Dominicans that would set the foundation for Philips religious inclinations. At the age of 16, a wealthy uncle hired him into his business at S. Germano near monte Cassino. He worked hard and his uncle promised to make Philip and heir but Philip had other plans. 

After working for his uncle for two years Philip sold all his possessions, cut himself off from any of his family's patronages and moved to Rome in 1533 to do charitable works and to study. Arriving in Rome without a penny to his name he took up residence in the house of Galeotto Caccia, who gave him a room in his home in exchange for acting as a tutor to Galeotto’s two sons. During his time in Rome as a layman, Philip Neri made a living as a tutor and did all he could to win souls for God by visiting people in the hospitals, shops, warehouses, banks and public places and exhorting them to follow Jesus. Over the next 17 years, he would attract many followers, especially young men who were attracted to his deep spirituality and joyous nature. In 1550 he considered ending his active wok and retire into solitude but God had other plans for him. 

In 1551 at the behest of his spiritual director and confessor, Philip Neri was ordained a priest and expanded his ministry and focused on promoting the frequent reception of the sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. He would spend the hours from dawn until noon in the confessional and then celebrate mass. In his afternoons he would dedicate his time to the spiritual development of the young men of Rome. Through this ministry to young men, he attracted many men, both priests, and layman. Many of these priests worked with him to develop the spiritual life of those they encountered but though they lived and worked together they had no yet taken any vows. This band of priestly brothers worked out of Saint Girolamo Church in Rome, until in 1575, having grown in size, we recognized by Gregory XIII as the Congregation of the Oratory and were given the Church Saint Maria in Vallicella. This newly found order was founded with the intention of sanctifying themselves through the accomplishment of their priestly duties and to work for the sanctification of their neighbors.

Saint Philip Neri died in 1595 on the 26th of May after having spent the day in the confessional. He was beatified in 1615 by Paul V and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622. 

Saint Philip Neri, pray for us.

The Madonna Appearing to Saint Philip Neri
Sebastiano Conca

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