Saint Philip Neri

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  • Topic: Philip Neri, Pope Paul V, Pope Gregory XV
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Saint Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in the year 1515. He was the

oldest son of Francis Neri and Lucretia Soldi, both descendants of Tuscan

families. He was kind hearted as a kid and soon became known as Philip the

Good - "the good Pippo." As a child, he studied philosophy and later he took

a comprehensive course in theology. With fourteen companions, he created

the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for looking after pilgrims and

convalescents. The members met for Communion, prayer and other spiritual

exercises in the Church of San Salvatore, and Philip himself introduced the

idea of having exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at least once a month.

At these devotions, Philip preached, even though he had not yet become a

priest. In 1550, he transferred this Confraternity to the Church of the Holy

Trinity, and built a new hospital. His work continued and in 1551, he was

ordained a priest at the age of thirty-six.

As a newly ordained priest, Philip continued his spiritual conferences to

ever-increasing numbers, who came seeking his guidance and help. In a short

time, several priests and young clergymen associated themselves with him.

They began to aid him with his conferences and in reading prayers and

meditations to the people of the Church of the Holy Trinity. This small

group soon became known as an Oratory, because at certain hours each day,

they would gather the people together for prayer and meditation. Therefore

they laid the foundation of a new religious society. In 1564, when Philip

had formed his congregation into a regular community, he had several of his

young clergy men ordained to the priesthood.

Saint Philip lived to be eighty years of age. In the year 1595, he was

struck by an unusual violent fever and was confined to his bed for the

entire month of April. Cardinal Caesar Baronius game him Extreme Unction and

Cardinal Frederick Borromeo, an intimate friend, brought him Holy Viaticum.

His entire congregation accompanied him on his deathbed. It was shortly

after midnight on May 26th, 1595 that he passed away.

Saint Philip was noted also for his kindness and simplicity and was much

sought after as a confessor. His sense of humor was note worthy. He was

beautified by Pope Paul V in 1615 and was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory

XV in the year 1622.

After Philip's death it was discovered that two of his ribs were broken and

had formed an arch, enlarging the normal space for the heart. His body rests

in the Chiesa Nuova where it remains miraculously incorrupt. He is

celebrated on May 26th. It was here that a series of mystical experiences

occurred to him.

One evening, while fervently praying, a globe of fire appeared in front

of him. It entered his mouth and a moment afterwards he felt his chest


Instantly he was filled with such paroxysms of divine love that he rolled

upon the ground yelling, "Enough, Lord, I can bear no more!"

When he rose and was more composed, he discovered a swelling as big as a

man's fist in the region of his heart. This swelling remained with him for

the rest of his life and, at times, the emotional passion that it caused was

so strong it forced him to bare his breast to relieve the heat it created.

In those moments he prayed that God would lessen his blessings before he

died of excess love. His face would shine with a mysterious light and often

he was transfixed in heavenly bliss and unable to lower his arms.

Occasionally in these fits he was seen lifted off the ground, his body

weightless. Not only did his face shine with light, but real sparks of fire

flew from his eyes. All of these were miracles used for his canonization.

The Oratory is a non-monastic house of prayer where people are gathered in

offer to better learn scriptures and offer meditation and prayer. This is

the type of life...
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