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Article: May 26 + Saint Philip Neri

May 26 + Saint Philip Neri - VENXARA®

May 26 + Saint Philip Neri

At an early age, Philip abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence, and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time— that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.

As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered a group of laypersons who were won over by his audacious spirituality.

At the urging of his confessor, Philip was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor himself, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke.

Some of Philip’s followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded which was a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers.

Philip had a phenomenal capacity for love – his heart would hammer so strongly against his chest that it shook the furniture. His facility to love so greatly was received on the eve of Pentecost, 1544, when Philip saw what appeared to be a globe of fire. It is said the fire entered his mouth, causing Philip to feel his heart dilate. Straightaway he was filled with an intense divine love and fell to the floor, crying out, “Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no more!” Philip then discovered a swelling over his heart, though it caused him no pain.

Philip is the patron saint of laughter, humor and joy and is a powerful intercessor for people who have periods of depression. Many people wrongly feel that such an attractive and jocular personality as Philip’s cannot be combined with an intense spirituality. His approach to sanctity was truly Catholic, all-embracing, and accompanied by a good laugh. Philip always wanted his followers to become not less but more human through their striving for holiness.

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