Thursday, May 6, 2021

Saints for Today: Philip Neri, Priest (1515-1595)

Must Read

Join us in Praying for the Repose of the Soul of Fr. Robert Badger (1973-2021)

“He was an outstanding priest and a true son of the Church, which was expressed through the pastoral care of the people entrusted to him."

Newly-Ordained Priest Lives Vocation Courageously

On June 4, 2016, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, Bishop James Wall ordained seminarian...

“Terror of Demons”: The Significance of the Year of St. Joseph

In this year of Saint Joseph, this title may well help us all to understand his particular patronage over the universal Church as well as his personal protection for all of us.
Dr. Jean Lee
Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Feast Day: May 26

Philip Neri was one of the great figures of the Catholic Reformation. His influence is the more remarkable for the fact that he wrote no books, proposed no original theology, and inspired no school of spirituality. He simply radiated a spirit of joy and holiness, and so managed to elevate the spiritual level of his time.

Born in Florence, Italy, into a family of modest income, Philip frequented the Dominican church of St. Mark, where he acquired a great respect for Savonarola (Dominican reformer). Later, during a period in which he engaged in commerce at Cassino, Italy, he came into contact with Benedictine spirituality. For a time he studied at the University Sapienza but he soon gave that up and began to work as a lay apostle among the people of Rome. He became known as the “Second Apostle of Rome” because his ministry promoted a general return to the Christian living.

With the help of his confessor, he founded the lay Confraternity of the Most Blessed Trinity to provide assistance for pilgrims. Advised that he could do much more good as a priest, he was ordained in 1551 at the age of 36. Through his apostolate in the confessional and his spiritual conferences, he attracted a group of followers who ultimately formed the Congregation of the Oratory.

Philip Neri was in contact with the outstanding Church figures of the day: Ignatius Loyola, Charles Borromeo, Francis de Sales, Camillus de Lellis, Felix of Cantalice and numerous popes such as Paul IV, Pius V, Gregory XIII, Gregory XIV and Clement VIII. For forty-five years, Philip evangelized thousands of people at Rome, from the poor to the popes. He buttonholed them in life-changing conversations, instructed them in conferences, and mainly drew them to conversion in the confessional. Philip won their hearts with his consistent kindness and jovial sense of humor.

Like his contemporary Teresa of Ávila, Philip Neri was a mystic-in-action. He reported that once in prayer, he saw a globe of fire enter his mouth and set his heart aflame that permanently afflicted him. The saint did his best to hide his mystical phenomena, but sometimes his ecstasies at Mass lasted so long that the acolytes could leave for an hour’s break. In the last years of his life, between the ages of 75 and 80, Philip concentrated on the ministry of the confessional and spiritual conferences. He died in Rome with a reputation for cheerful goodness and optimism.

The Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings contains an excerpt from a treatise by St. Augustine who refers to the joy of being in Christ, and this helps us understand better a saying of St. Philip Neri: “A servant of God ought always to be happy.” The spirituality of St. Philip Neri is relevant and available to all. Consequently, the duties and involvements in the affairs of this life need never be an obstacle to the joy, love, and service of God.

“Cast yourself with confidence into the arms of God. And be very sure of this, that if he wants anything of you he will fit you for your work and give you strength to do it.”

– Saint Philip Neri


Ellsberg, Robert. “All Saints.” New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2010.
Ghezzi, Bert. “Voices of the Saints.” Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.
Lodi, Enzo. “Saints of the Roman Calendar-Updated and Revised Edition.” New York: Alba House, 2012.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Join us in Praying for the Repose of the Soul of Fr. Robert Badger (1973-2021)

“He was an outstanding priest and a true son of the Church, which was expressed through the pastoral care of the people entrusted to him."


Other recent stories:

“It is a privilege to be a Religious”: Three Gallup Sisters Celebrate 90 Combined Years of Consecrated Life

"I asked Our Lord: “Jesus, what do you want me to do? What do you want of me?”In my heart I felt a very soft voice that said: “You follow Me.” 

“Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus”: Sr. Rene Backe Reflects on 65 Years of Religious Life

"We need to pray for each other so that we will be faithful to the Gospel, the blessings, and the Sacraments God has given us through the Church."

Friday News Roundup: Attempt to Force Priests to Violate the Seal of Confession Fails in Arizona

Plus: St. Teresa School Raffle; Pro-life Fundraisers; Bishops' Joint Statement on US-Mexico Border

Annual Student Essay Content Winners Describe “Catholic Heroes and Heroines of the Southwest”

The eighth-grade winner examines the life of her grandmother, who fought for Pueblo water rights.


More Articles Like This