Featured Saint 13/1/22

St Phillip Neri

Claim to fame: Saint Philip Neri, Italian San Filippo Neri, was an Italian priest and one of the outstanding mystics during the Counter-Reformation and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory (now the Institute of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, also called Oratorians), a congregation of secular priests and clerics. He went to Rome in 1533, where he tutored, studied, and undertook many charitable works. In 1548 he founded a society of laymen dedicated to the care of the poor, convalescents, and pilgrims. After ordination in 1551 he moved to the ecclesiastical community at San Girolamo della Carità in Rome. There he held religious conferences that became so popular that a large room was built over the church nave to accommodate his audiences. 

This room was called the Oratory, a name that subsequently referred to those who met there and to the devotional, charitable, and recreational activities that Philip instituted, including musical performances (hence “oratorio”).

Quote: “Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength.”

Fun fact: Although Philip refrained from becoming involved in political matters, he broke this rule in 1593–1595 when he persuaded Pope Clement VIII to revoke the excommunication and anathema pronounced against Henry IV of France and the refusal to receive his ambassador, even though the king had formally renounced Calvinism. Philip saw that the pope’s attitude was more than likely to drive Henry to a relapse and to rekindle the civil war in France, and directed the future Cardinal Caesar Baronius, a member of the Oratory who was then the pope’s confessor, to refuse the pope absolution and to resign his office of confessor unless the pope withdrew the anathema. Clement yielded at once, though the whole college of cardinals had supported his policy; and Henry, who did not learn the facts until several years afterwards, testified lively gratitude for the timely and politic intervention.