Today, May 26, we celebrate the feast of *Saint Philip Neri* (1515-1595), gracious, cheerful saint and Rome’s apostle of the sixteenth century and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers.
A peculiar charism was his burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him. So ardently did this fire of divine love affect him during the octave of Pentecost in his twenty-ninth year that the beating of his heart broke two ribs. It was a wound that never healed.
Saint Philip was born in Florence, Italy. At 18 he was sent to work with an older cousin, a businessman, with the hope that he might inherit his uncle’s fortune.
However, Philip left his cousin and moved to Rome, where he worked as a tutor and himself studied philosophy and theology. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. Convinced by his confessor that he could do more good as a priest, Philip received instruction and was ordained at 36.
Philip became well-known as a loving and patient man, and was sought out for confession. A mystic, he could read the souls of his penitents, received visions and was granted the gift of prophecy.
Philip’s appealing nature won him over friends from all societal levels, including that of Ignatius of Loyola, Pius V and Charles Borromeo. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself.
St. Philip Neri died at the age of 80 in 1595, the Feast of Corpus Christi that year. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.
*St. Philip Neri, pray for us.*
*✝Prayer to St. Philip Neri*
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts.
We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need *(make your request here)*. Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.