On this day: St. Philip Neri

On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, Founder of the Oratory.

Philip Neri was born in Florence in 1515. At the age of 17, unable to endure life under the Medici, he left the city.

"It is no accident that Philip left Florence at this time, never to return. . . . The experience of a republic under the rule of Christ, the preference for a community with a democratic order; these were later to be fundamental in the Oratory".

"Philip Neri is one of the most lovable and popular of saints, . . . Christian humanist, practical joker and one of the Church's great contemplatives, . . . canonized on the same day as Teresa of Avila, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier".

-- The Fire of Joy, by Fr. Paul Türks of the Oratory, T&T Clark, 1984. Search terms: music, beard, donkeys, gypsies, jokes, Savanarola, Seven Churches.

Frederick Faber and John Henry Newman were priests of the Oratory, both devoted to the founder. In Faber's Oratory Hymns, we find "To Our Holy Father and Blessed Founder, St. Philip Neri" (43); "St. Philip's Picture" (45); "St. Philip's Death" (47); and others.

(That hymnal also contains "St. Patrick's Day" (50). To find the melody, scroll down to an inch from the bottom. "Faith of Our Fathers" (56), the version the Irish sang at hurling matches, is also included, as is "The Emigrant's Song" (76), with the tune at the end.)

"He lived in a dramatic century, intoxicated by discoveries of human genius and classical and pagan art, but in radical crisis because of the change of mentality. St. Philip was a man of profound faith and a fervent priest, he was genial and farsighted, and was endowed with a special charisma: he was able to keep intact the deposit of truth received, and he transmitted it whole and pure, by living it entirely and announcing it without compromises.

"This is why his message is always topical and we ought to hear it and follow his example."

-- Prayers and Devotions: 365 Daily Meditations, by Pope John Paul II, Penguin Books, 1984.

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