St. Philip Neri

From the Breviary: Saint Philip Neri was born at Florence in 1515. He went to Rome and began to work with young men among whom he fostered Christian life and formed an association for the poor and the sick. Ordained to the priesthood in 1551, he founded the Oratory where spiritual reading, singing, and works of charity were practiced. He excelled in his love of neighbor and in evangelical simplicity along with a joyous service to God. Saint Philip died in 1595.

My Patron for 2010 has quietly taught me many things, this year. He’s helping me learn to laugh at myself, though my instincts to roll up the sleeves and start swinging are still much too much to the fore. His daily maxims and sayings can be pretty helpful–like the friendly nudges of a friend who says, “oh, lighten up, you’re not the center of the world.”

Possibly he gives such good advice because, since he was blessed with many gifts of the spirit, he learned to cling to humility and simplicity. He is often summed up (and then too easily dismissed) as the “cheerful saint”, but his lightness came from his depths.

I think it’s funny that the year in which I put together an oratory in my house is the year I get for a patron, the fellow who formed the “Oratarians”. Whenever I sit before my oratory, which for this year holds a second-class relic of the saint, I add to my orations, “St. Philip, please teach me what you know…”

I always get the sense that he rolls his eyes at me. But kindly.

Philip Neri had his tough times and his dark moments, like every great saint. But since he is relentlessly portrayed as cheerful and upbeat, let’s have a relentlessly cheerful, upbeat song in his honor. Sorry about the poor recording, Philip!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Alexandrag

    Today I heard a nice homily including St. Philip Neri on the local EWTN affiliate broadcast of mass from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. The homilist touched on St. Philip’s approach to cheerfulness, not as a superficial thing, but as an attitude to be cultivated, a sustaining approach to life.

  • Antony

    As a musical treat listen to Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio “San Filippo Neri”

  • cathyf

    Ages ago when my family visited Florence we stayed in a lovely hotel in the old part of the city which had been converted from a wealthy family home. We had quite the adventure getting there — my dad had the place located on the map, and knew right where we were, and told my mom “turn right.” But we can’t, because it’s a one-way street. No worries — we’ll just go down to the next street — one-way streets alternate directions everywhere, right? Wrong. And the next street, and the next… Now we were pretty far away, so my mom turned around and tried going back and past in from the other direction. Nope, not possible. Finally, she pulled over, and my dad walked the 2 blocks. In a bit, he came back with the hotel manager, who cheerfully led us in an extremely circuitous trip around to the parking lot and back door of the place. He explained that their new communist mayor believed that things needed to be simplified for the peasants and so all the one-way streets ran in the same direction — out-of-town! As he showed us our room, he told us that this was the exact room in which St. Philip Neri was born in. I bet St. Philip would have had the mayor carrying his cat around the one-way streets!

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  • AvantiBev

    Maybe it is just because God created me such a dog-lover but that icon does not look like San Filippo holding a cat. To me it appears to be a Pomeranian. Fitting as, though they can be quite yappy, the Pom’s face at rest does appear to be smiling.

    [It is a dog. St. Philip Neri, for a reason I cannot remember, stole the Cardinal's dog from him as a prank and then kept him, or the dog simply went to Neri and stayed with him...I remember it was an amusing story, but the details are lost on me -admin]


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