A true parallel, saintly life to the Servant of God, Venerable Michael J. McGivney, is the life of St. Philip Neri, Apostle to Rome. His love of youth, the poor, the widow and orphans, exemplified the future work of the Knights of Columbus. Showing us that saints are truly human and joyful is St. Philip Neri's legacy. Do you laugh enough? St. Philip Neri would say true joy and laughter are the earmarks of sainthood.
St. Philip Neri - Feast Day - May 26
This gracious, cheerful saint was Rome's apostle of the sixteenth century (1515-1595). A peculiar charisma was his burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him. So ardently did this fire of divine love affect him during the octave of Pentecost in his twenty-ninth year, that the beating of his heart broke two of his ribs. It was a wound that never healed.
For fifty years the saint lived on in the intensity of that love which was more at home in heaven than on earth. Through those fifty years, his was an apostolate to renew the religious and ecclesiastical spirit of the Eternal City, a task he brought to a happy conclusion. It is to his credit that the practice of frequent Holy Communion, long neglected in Rome and throughout the Catholic world, was again revived. He became one of Rome's patron saints, even one of the most popular.
Philip Neri loved the young and they responded by crowding about him. As a confessor, he was in great demand; among his penitents was St. Ignatius. To perpetuate his life's work, St. Philip founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a Society of secular clergy without religious vows. The purpose of his foundation was to enkindle piety among the faithful by means of social gatherings, which afforded not only entertainment but religious instruction as well. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the "humorous saint." It was his happy, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. "The learned and wise Philip Neri, became a child himself again by sharing the pranks of children” (epitaph).
As a youth Philip Neri often visited the seven principal churches of Rome. He spent entire nights at the catacombs, near the tombs of the martyrs, meditating on heavenly things. The liturgy was the wellspring of his apostolic spirit; it should likewise motivate us to Catholic Action.
Patron: Rome; United States Army Special Forces.
Symbols: Rosary; lily; angel holding a book.
Things to Do:
• St. Philip Neri was well known for his sense of humor. To honor him today, try to laugh at yourself when something annoying happens; try to make someone else happy by your cheerful disposition.
• St. Philip's favorite feast was Corpus Christi. Make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Father, you continually raise up your faithful to the glory of holiness. In your love, kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit who so filled the heart of Philip Neri. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Mark W. Lynn, BA, MA, MS, PhD
Liturgical Activities Chairman
Florida State Council