samedi 26 mai 2012

Saint PHILIPPE de NÉRI, religieux, fondateur et confesseur



Giambattista Tiepolo.. Vierge glorieuse et Jésus Enfant avec saint Philippe Néri

1739-1740, 360 X 182

SAINT PHILIPPE de NÉRI

Fondateur de l'Oratoire

(1515-1595)

Philippe naquit à Florence le 22 juillet 1515. Dès son enfance, on l'appelait le bon petit Philippe, tant il était bon, doux et aimable. Vers l'âge de dix-huit ans, il renonça à la fortune d'un de ses oncles pour aller à Rome étudier les sciences ecclésiastiques. Rien de plus édifiant que sa vie d'étudiant: pauvreté, mortification, prière, travail, silence, vie cachée, habitaient sa modeste cellule.

Après plusieurs années d'étude opiniâtre dans les universités, il travailla seul, quelques années encore, dans le silence et la solitude, et quand, devenu prêtre par obéissance, il commença à se livrer au ministère des âmes, son esprit facile et profond avait acquis une science fort remarquable. Son angélique pureté eut à subir les plus rudes assauts; mais il sortit toujours vainqueur de tous les pièges, et reçut comme récompense la grâce de ne jamais ressentir, le reste de sa vie, aucun mouvement, même involontaire, de la concupiscence charnelle.

Un jour, Philippe fut tellement embrasé de l'amour de Dieu, que deux de ses côtes se rompirent pour donner plus de liberté à ses élans séraphiques. Souvent ses entretiens avec Notre-Seigneur étaient si suaves, qu'il n'y pouvait tenir et se mourait de joie, ce qui lui faisait pousser ce cri: "Assez, Seigneur, assez!"

Philippe visitait les hôpitaux, soignait les malades, assistait et instruisait les pauvres, passait de longues nuits dans la prière, aux catacombes, sur les tombeaux des martyrs. Partout et à toute occasion, il cherchait à gagner des âmes à Dieu. Il aimait surtout les jeunes gens; il les attendait à la sortie des écoles, se mêlait à leurs rangs et conversait avec eux; il les abordait sur les places publiques, les cherchait jusque dans les ateliers et les magasins, en confessait une multitude, en retirait un grand nombre du vice. "Amusez-vous bien, leur disait-il souvent; mais n'offensez pas le bon Dieu!" Aussi Philippe exerçait-il sur l'enfance et la jeunesse un ascendant irrésistible, et nul mieux que lui ne mérite d'être regardé comme le Patron des Oeuvres de jeunesse. Le Saint fonda la Société des Prêtres de l'Oratoire.

Philippe jouait pour ainsi dire avec les miracles, et les résurrections de morts ne coûtaient rien à cet homme extraordinaire. Il se regardait, malgré tout, comme le plus grand des pécheurs, et disait souvent à Dieu: "Seigneur, défiez-Vous de moi, car j'ai peur de Vous trahir!" Philippe mourut à l'âge de quatre-vingt ans, le 26 mai 1595.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_philippe_de_neri.html


Saint Philippe Néri

Saint Philippe Néri est né à Florence, le 21 juillet 1515. La famille Néri qui avait vécu dans une certaine opulence se trouvait alors dans la gêne. Le père, François, était notaire,mais n'avait plus que quelques clients et la mère, Lucrèce, mourut après avoir donné le jour à son quatrième enfant.

Le père se maria en seconde noces avec Alexandra Lenzi qui sut établir un rapport affectueux avec ses beaux-enfants, et particulièrement avec Philippe. Celui-ci était doté d'un caractère vif,mais aimable et surtout pieux et joyeux. Il fut d'abord éduqué par son père qui lui donna le goût des livres. Toute sa vie saint Philippe Néri fut accompagné de livres et laissa en héritage à sa congrégation une bibliothèque extrêmement volumineuse.

Il poursuivit son éducation chez les Dominicains du couvent Saint-Marc de Florence (ce couvent qui possède les admirables fresques de Fra Angelico). A dix-huit ans, il entra dans le négoce d'un parent, mais ses aspirations étaient autres. Il se rendit à Rome en 1534, où le Florentin Caccia lui offrit l'hospitalité en tant que précepteur de ses fils. en même temps, il suivait des leçons de philosophie et de théologie chez les Augustins de la ville et à la Sapienza. Il avait cependant une attirance pour la vie contemplative, les catacombes des premiers martyrs et les églises solitaires. C'est ainsi qu'une nuit de la Pentecôte 1544, il reçut des grâces spéciales et que son coeur fut animé jusqu'à la fin de ses jours d' un esprit de charité et de don de soi.

Il dédia alors ses journées à des visites à l'hôpital des incurables et s'intégra à des confraternités comme celle de l'église de la Sainte-Trinité des Pèlerins, dont il fut grâce à son confesseur, le principal animateur. Le Père Rosa qui vivait à Saint-Jérôme de la Charité fut un guide attentif des progrès spirituels du futur saint. Philippe se sentait pourtant indigne du sacerdoce, néanmoins à trente-six ans, le 23 mai 1551, après avoir reçu les Ordres mineurs, Philippe Néri, devint prêtre en l'église de Saint-Thomas in Parione, de Mgr Lunel. Il poursuivit alors l'apostolat intense qu'il avait commencé dans les rues de Rome. Il habitait à la maison de Saint-Jérôme, siège de la confraternité de la Charité qui accueillait un certain nombre de prêtres séculiers. Son ministère principal fut celui de la confession. Il recevait ses premiers pénitents pour des dialogues et des entretiens spirituels et mit au point petit-à-petit les fondements de ce qui allait devenir l'Oratoire. Saint Philippe Néri obtint bientôt de ses confrères un local pour recevoir ses nouvelles âmes zélées, parmi eux César Baronio et François-Marie Tarugi, futurs cardinaux.

La Congrégation de l'Oratoire fut au début une communauté de prêtres qui avaient en partage le goût de l'apostolat, selon des méthodes modernes pour l'époque. Philippe Néri reçut à cette époque la charge de recteur de l'église de Saint-Jean des Florentins qui devint le premier centre de rayonnement des Oratoriens. Ensuite le Pape Grégoire XIII donna à ce groupe de prêtres l'église de Sainte-Marie in Vallicella, située à côté, et par la bulle '' Copiosus in misericordia Deus '' reconnut en 1575 la '' Congregatio presbyterorum saecularium de Oratorio nuncupanda ''.

C'est en cette église et l'habitation de laquelle il se trouvait que le futur saint passa les dernières douze années de sa vie. Il recevait toute sorte de personnes, sans exclusion de milieu, afin de les conduire sur leur chemin spirituel. Elle étaient accueillies avec douceur et prévenance vers la simplicité évangélique, surtout les âmes qui avaient connu auparavant des parcours difficiles.

Il mourut à quatre-vingts ans, le 26 mai 1595 : il avait vécu trente-six ans en tant que laïc, et quarante-quatre ans en tant que prêtre. Florentin d'origine, ce dont il était fier, et Romain d'adoption, il vécut en union particulière avec le Seigneur, et fut toujours animé d'un caractère particulièrement original et joyeux. Certains le jugeaient comme excentrique, mais son apostolat était fécond. Les Oratoriens plus tard furent à la tête de nombreuses maisons d'éducation. Ils existent encore aujourd'hui, malgré la crise des années 1960-1970.

Le peuple de Rome lui attribua le titre d'Apôtre de Rome, ce qui était réservé à saint Pierre et à saint Paul, tant il reconnaissait alors les bienfaits de saint Philippe Néri. Puisse la Cité éternelle s'en souvenir encore, aujourd'hui !...

Il fut particulièrement mentionné, lors de l'Année Sainte 2000, par le précédent pape Jean-Paul II .

SOURCE : http://ut-pupillam-oculi.over-blog.com/article-31883786.html


Lettre de Jean Paul II à propos de Philippe Néri

A l’occasion du quatrième centenaire de la mort de saint Philippe Néri, Jean-Paul II a adressé la lettre suivante au Père Michael Napier, délégué du Saint-Siège pour l’Oratoire:

“Révérend Père,

A l’occasion du quatrième centenaire du “dies natalis” (littéralement “jour de la naissance”, expression traditionnelle pour désigner la mort de quelqu’un, qui est jour de sa naissance à la vie dans l’au-delà) de saint Philippe Néri, Florentin d’origine et Romain d’adoption, je suis heureux de m’adresser à vous et à tous les membres de l’Oratoire, pour rappeler l’exemple de sainteté du Fondateur et fortifier chez chacun d’entre vous l’activité de votre foi, le labeur de votre charité et la constance de votre espérance (cf. 1 Th 1,3).

1. L’aimable figure du “Saint de la joie” conserve toujours intacte cette irrésistible fascination qu’il a exercée sur tous ceux qui l’ont approché pour apprendre à connaître et faire l’expérience dans leur vie des sources authentiques de la joie chrétienne.

Quand on relit la biographie de saint Philippe, on reste en effet surpris et fasciné par la manière joyeuse et détendue avec laquelle il savait éduquer, se plaçant au côté de chacun avec un partage et une patience fraternels.

Comme on le sait, le Saint avait coutume de rassembler son enseignement dans de brèves et savoureuses maximes: “Soyez bons, si vous le pouvez”; “scrupules et tristesse, pas de ça dans ma maison”; “soyez humbles et soyez bas”; “l’homme qui ne prie pas est un animal sans parole”; et, portant sa main à son front: “la sainteté consiste en un espace de trois doigts”. Derrière la vivacité de ces “dits” et de tant d’autres, il est possible de percevoir la connaissance aiguë et réaliste qu’il avait acquise de la nature humaine et de la dynamique de la grâce. Par ces enseignements rapides et concis, il traduisait l’expérience de sa longue vie et la sagesse d’un coeur habité par l’Esprit Saint. Désormais, ces aphorismes sont devenus, pour la spiritualité chrétienne, une sorte de patrimoine de sagesse.

2. Saint Philippe se présente dans le cadre de la Renaissance romaine comme “le prophète de la joie”, qui a su marcher à la suite de Jésus tout en s’insérant activement dans la société de son temps, par bien des aspects singulièrement proche de celle d’aujourd’hui.

L’humanisme, tout centré sur l’homme et ses singulières capacités intellectuelles et pratiques, proposait, contre une certaine obscurité médiévale mal comprise, la redécouverte d’une joyeuse fraîcheur naturaliste, immédiate et sans inhibitions. L’homme, présenté presque comme un dieu païen, était ainsi placé dans une position de protagoniste absolu. On avait fait, en outre, une sorte de révision de la loi morale dans le but de rechercher et d’assurer le bonheur.

Ouvert aux requêtes de la société de son temps, saint Philippe n’a pas refusé cette aspiration à la joie, mais il s’est efforcé de lui proposer sa vraie source, qu’il avait découverte dans le message évangélique. C’est la parole du Christ qui dessine l’authentique visage de l’homme, révélant ses traits qui en font un fils aimé du Père, accueilli comme un frère dans le Verbe incarné et sanctifié par l’Esprit Saint.

Ce sont les lois de l’Evangile et les commandements du Christ qui conduisent à la joie et au bonheur: telle est la vérité proclamée par saint Philippe Néri aux jeunes qu’il rencontrait dans son travail apostolique quotidien. Son annonce était dictée par une expérience intime de Dieu, effectuée surtout dans l’oraison. La prière nocturne aux catacombes de Saint-Sébastien, où il se retirait souvent à l’écart, n’était pas seulement une recherche de la solitude mais bien la volonté de s’entretenir avec les témoins de la foi, de les interroger, tout comme les savants de la Renaissance conversaient avec les Classiques de l’antiquité; et de la connaissance venait l’imitation, puis l’émulation.

En saint Philippe, à qui, la veille de la Pentecôte 1544, l’Esprit Saint donna “un coeur de feu”, il est possible d’entrevoir l’allégorie de grandes et divines transformations qu’opère la prière. Un fécond et sûr programme de formation à la joie - enseigne notre Saint - se nourrit, s’appuie sur une palette harmonieuse de choix: la prière assidue, l’Eucharistie fréquente, la redécouverte et la valorisation du sacrement de la Réconciliation, le contact familier et quotidien avec la Parole de Dieu, l’exercice fécond de la charité fraternelle et du service. Puis la dévotion à la Sainte Vierge, modèle et vraie cause de notre joie. A cet égard, comment oublier son avertissement sage et efficace: “Mes petits enfants, soyez des dévots de Marie: je sais ce que je dis! Soyez des dévots de Marie!”

3. Qualifié justement de “saint de la joie”, saint Philippe doit être également reconnu comme “l’apôtre de Rome” et même comme le “réformateur de la Ville éternelle”. Il devint presque par une évolution naturelle et la maturité des choix accomplis sous l’illumination de la grâce. Il fut vraiment la lumière et le sel de Rome, selon la parole de l’Evangile (cf. Mt. 5,13-16). Il sut être “lumière” en cette civilisation certes splendide, mais souvent éclairée seulement par les lumières obliques et rasantes du paganisme. Dans ce contexte social, Philippe demeura respectueux de l’Autorité, entièrement dévoué au dépôt de la Vérité, intrépide dans l’annonce du message chrétien. Il fut ainsi une source de lumière pour tous.

Il ne choisit pas la vie solitaire mais, accomplissant son ministère parmi les gens du peuple, il se proposa d’être aussi “sel” pour tous ceux qui le rencontraient. Comme Jésus, il sut se glisser dans la misère humaine stagnante, aussi bien que dans les palais de la noblesse ou dans les ruelles de la Rome de la Renaissance. Il était tour à tour Cyrénéen et conscience critique, conseiller éclairé et maître souriant.

C’est bien pour cela que ce ne fut pas tant lui qui adopta Rome que Rome qui l’adopta! Il vécut 60 ans dans cette Ville qui ne cessait de se peupler de saints. S’il rencontrait dans les rues l’humanité souffrante pour la réconforter et la soutenir par la charité d’une parole sage et très humaine, il préférait rassembler la jeunesse à l’Oratoire, sa véritable invention. Il en fit un lieu de rencontre joyeuse, une école de formation, un centre de rayonnement de l’art.

Ce fut à l’Oratoire que saint Philippe, tout en cultivant la religiosité dans ses expressions habituelles et nouvelles, s’efforça de réformer et d’élever l’art, le ramenant au service de Dieu et de l’Eglise. Convaincu comme il l’était que le beau mène au bien, il fit rentrer dans son dessein éducatif tout ce qui avait une marque artistique. Et il devint lui-même le mécène des diverses expressions artistiques, promouvant des initiatives capables de porter au vrai et au bon.

Incisive et exemplaire fut la contribution que saint Philippe sut donner à la musique sacrée, la poussant à s’élever de divertissement frivole à une oeuvre recréatrice de l’esprit. Ce fut grâce à l’élan qu’il donna que des musiciens et des compositeurs commencèrent une réforme qui atteindra avec Pierluigi de Palestrina son plus haut sommet.

4. Saint Philippe, homme aimable et généreux, saint chaste et humble, apôtre actif et contemplatif, demeure le constant modèle des membres de la Congrégation de l’Oratoire! Il transmet à tous les Oratoriens un programme et un style de vie qui conservent, aujourd’hui encore, une singulière actualité. Ce que l’on appelle le “quadrilatère” - humilité, charité, prière et joie - reste toujours une base très solide sur laquelle on peut appuyer l’édifice intérieur de sa propre vie spirituelle.”

SOURCE : http://www.art-sacre.net/rome/f_189_6.html#1368


Benoît XVI donne saint Philippe Neri comme modèle aux jeunes

ROME, Mercredi 26 mai 2010 (ZENIT.org) - Le pape Benoît XVI a donné aux jeunes l'exemple de saint Philippe Neri (1515- 1595), dont c'est aujourd'hui la fête liturgique. Un saint de la bonne humeur, de la jeunesse, de l'amour de l'Eucharistie et de l'Esprit Saint.

Le pape a souligné que saint Philippe Neri s'est distingué par « son allégresse et son dévouement spécial pour la jeunesse qu'il a éduquée et évangélisée grâce à une initiative pastorale inspirée : l'Oratoire ».

Saint Philippe Neri, grand thaumaturge, fondateur de la Société des Prêtres de l'Oratoire, co-patron de la ville de Rome, est aussi considéré comme le saint patron des Oeuvres de jeunesse.

« Chers jeunes, a ajouté le pape, regardez ce saint pour apprendre à vivre avec une simplicité évangélique ».

« Chers malades, que saint Philippe Neri vous aide à faire de votre souffrance une offrande au Père céleste, en union avec Jésus crucifié ».

« Et vous, chers jeunes mariés, soutenus par l'intercesison de saint Philippe, inspirez-vous toujours de l'Evangile pour construire une famille vraiment chrétienne ».

En polonais, le pape a également évoqué ce grand saint italien en soulignant que « en imiant le Christ, il ne s'attendait pas à ce qu'on le serve ». Il était « ouvert aux besoins des fidèles, surtout des jeunes, des malades et des pauvres, et il a été au service de tous avec une simplicité évangélique ».

« Dans notre prière, demandons à Dieu le don de tels pasteurs », a conclu le pape.

Le saint, originaire de Florence, contemporain d'Ignace de Loyola, a réussi à se faire adopter par les Romains qui l'avaient surnommé « Pippo buono », Philippe « le Bon ». Il repose en la « Chiesa nuova » de Rome où l'on peut aussi visiter sa chambre.

Il est aujourd'hui encore très aimé en Italie où l'on donne son nom propre comme prénom aux enfants, comme le prénom de Vianney, dans les pays francophones, en l'honneur du saint curé d'Ars.

Certains de ses « fioretti » sont très connus. Pour lutter contre le phénomène de ses extases d'amour en public, il y avait la petite chatte qui s'était prise d'affection pour lui et qu'il caressait en cas de besoin pendant la célébration de la messe, ou bien le recueil d'histoires drôles dont la victime était un prêtre de Naples, le doyen Arlotto, placé sur l'autel à côté du missel. Un jour, il aurait tiré la barbe du garde qui escortait la procession du saint sacrement : ses cris ont réussi à faire revenir le saint les pieds sur terre.

Mais pourquoi ces extases ? La grande grâce reçue par S. Philippe Neri, c'était de sentir son cœur envahi par le feu de l'amour de Dieu, à la Pentecôte, en 1544, dans les Catacombes de Saint- Sébastien. Son cœur se gonfla d'amour au point en effet de décoller deux côtes : « Assez, Seigneur, assez ! » l'a-t-on entendu dire lorsqu'il se sentait envahi de l'Esprit Saint. Il disait : « Veillez à la pureté du cœur : l'Esprit Saint habite les âmes simples et candides. C'est lui le maître de la prière qui nous fait demeurer en vraie paix et joie constante, avant-goût du ciel ».

Anita S. Bourdin

(26 mai 2010) © Innovative Media Inc.



St Philippe Neri, confesseur

Mort à Rome le 26 mai 1595. Canonisé par Grégoire XV en 1622 et inscrit au calendrier romain en 1625 par Urbain VIII comme semi-double ad libitum. Alexandre VII en fit un semi-double de précepte en 1657 et Clément XI l’éleva au rite double en 1669.

Alexandre VIII le dota d’une messe propre en 1690.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Philippe de Néri, né à Florence de parents pieux et honorables, donna dès son jeune âge de clairs indices de sa future sainteté. Encore adolescent, il renonça à une succession importante qui lui venait d’un oncle, et vint se retirer à Rome, où s’étant instruit dans la philosophie et les saintes lettres, il se donna tout à Jésus-Christ. Son abstinence était telle qu’il passait souvent trois jours sans prendre aucun aliment. Adonné aux veilles, assidu à l’oraison, Philippe visitait fréquemment les sept basiliques de la Ville, et prit l’habitude de passer la nuit au cimetière de Calixte dans la contemplation des choses célestes Devenu prêtre par obéissance, il s’employa tout entier procurer le salut des âmes persévérant jusqu’à son dernier jour à entendre les confessions il engendra à Jésus-Christ un nombre presque incalculable d’enfants ; mû par le vif désir de leur assurer l’aliment quotidien de la parole de Dieu, la fréquentation des sacrements, l’assiduité à la prière, et d’autres exercices de piété, il institua la congrégation de l’Oratoire.

Cinquième leçon. Blessé de l’amour de Dieu, Philippe semblait en une continuelle langueur, et son cœur brûlait d’un feu si ardent que, sa poitrine étant devenue trop étroite pour le contenir, le Seigneur l’élargit en brisant et soulevant miraculeusement deux de ses côtes. Lorsqu’il célébrait le saint Sacrifice ou priait avec grande ferveur, Philippe fut aperçu élevé de terre et environné d’une lumière éclatante. Ceux qui se trouvaient dans la misère ou le besoin furent de sa part l’objet d’une charité très étendue ; il mérita que, sous les traits d’un pauvre, un Ange vint lui demander l’aumône, et tandis qu’il portait une nuit du pain à des indigents, ce fut encore un Ange qui vint le tirer sain et sauf d’une fosse où il était tombé. Voué à l’humilité, il eut toujours de l’aversion pour les honneurs ; et des dignités ecclésiastiques, même très élevées, lui ayant été offertes à différentes reprises, il les refusa invariablement.

Sixième leçon. Philippe fut célèbre par le don de prophétie et brilla merveilleusement par celui de pénétration des cœurs. Il conserva toujours une inviolable virginité, et parvint à distinguer par leur bonne ou mauvaise odeur, ceux qui étaient chastes et ceux qui ne l’étaient pas Parfois il apparut à des personnes absentes et leur vint en aide dans le danger. A sa parole, beaucoup de malades et de mourants revinrent à la santé, un mort même fut rappelé à la vie. Les esprits célestes et la Vierge mère de Dieu elle-même l’honorèrent souvent de leurs apparitions, et plusieurs âmes lui furent montrées montant au ciel, environnées de splendeur. Enfin, l’an du salut mil cinq cent quatre-vingt-quinze, le huitième jour des calendes de juin, en la fête du Saint-Sacrement, Philippe, ayant célébré la Messe avec les plus grands transports de joie spirituelle, et s’étant acquitté des autres fonctions de son ministère, s’endormit dans le Seigneur, après minuit, à l’heure qu’il avait prédite. Ses miracles éclatants ont porté Grégoire XV à le mettre au nombre des Saints.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

La joie est, ainsi que nous l’avons dit, le caractère principal du Temps pascal : joie surnaturelle, motivée à la fois par le triomphe si éclatant de notre Emmanuel et par le sentiment de notre heureuse délivrance des liens de la mort. Or, ce sentiment de l’allégresse intérieure a régné d’une manière caractéristique dans le grand serviteur de Dieu que nous honorons aujourd’hui ; et c’est bien d’un tel homme, dont le cœur fut toujours dans la jubilation et dans l’enthousiasme des choses divines, que l’on peut dire, avec la sainte Écriture, « que le cœur du juste est comme un festin continuel [1] ». Un de ses derniers disciples, l’illustre Père Faber, fidèle aux doctrines de son maître, enseigne, dans son beau livre du Progrès spirituel, que la bonne humeur est l’un des principaux moyens d’avancement dans la perfection chrétienne. Nous accueillerons donc avec autant d’allégresse que de respect la figure radieuse et bienveillante de Philippe Néri, l’Apôtre de Rome et l’un des plus beaux fruits de la fécondité de l’Église au XVIe siècle.

L’amour de Dieu, un amour ardent, et qui se communiquait comme invinciblement à tous ceux qui l’approchaient, fut le trait particulier de sa vie. Tous les saints ont aimé Dieu ; car l’amour de Dieu est le premier et le plus grand commandement-, mais la vie de Philippe réalise ce divin précepte avec une plénitude, pour ainsi dire, incomparable. Son existence ne fut qu’un transport d’amour envers le souverain Seigneur de toutes choses ; et sans un miracle de la puissance et de la bonté de Dieu, cet amour si ardent au cœur de Philippe eût consumé sa vie avant le temps. Il était arrivé à la vingt-neuvième année de son âge, lorsqu’un jour, dans l’Octave de la Pentecôte, le feu de la divine charité embrasa son cœur avec une telle impétuosité que deux côtes de sa poitrine éclatèrent, laissant au cœur l’espace nécessaire pour céder désormais sans péril aux transports qui l’agitaient. Cette fracture ne se répara jamais ; la trace en était sensible par une proéminence visible à tout le monde ; et grâce à ce soulagement miraculeux, Philippe put vivre cinquante années encore, en proie à toutes les ardeurs d’un amour qui tenait plus du ciel que de la terre.

Ce séraphin dans un corps d’homme fut comme une réponse vivante aux insultes dont la prétendue Réforme poursuivait l’Église catholique. Luther et Calvin avaient appelé cette sainte Église l’infidèle et la prostituée de Babylone ; et voici que cette même Église avait à montrer de tels enfants à ses amis et à ses ennemis : une Thérèse en Espagne, un Philippe Néri dans Rome. Mais le protestantisme s’inquiétait beaucoup de l’affranchissement du joug, et peu de l’amour. Au nom de la liberté des croyances, il opprima les faibles partout où il domina, il s’implanta par la force là même où il était repoussé ; mais il ne revendiquait pas pour Dieu le droit qu’il a d’être aimé. Aussi vit-on disparaître des pays qu’il envahit ce dévouement qui produit le sacrifice à Dieu et au prochain. Un long intervalle de temps s’est écoulé depuis la prétendue Réforme, avant que celle-ci ait songé qu’il existe encore des infidèles sur la surface du globe ; et si plus tard elle s’est fastueusement imposé l’œuvre des missions, on sait assez quels apôtres elle choisit pour organes de ses étranges sociétés bibliques. C’est donc après trois siècles qu’elle s’aperçoit que l’Église catholique n’a pas cessé de produire des corporations vouées aux œuvres de charité. Émue d’une telle découverte, elle essaie en quelques lieux ses diaconesses et ses infirmières. Quoi qu’il en soit du succès d’un effort si tardif, on peut croire raisonnablement qu’il ne prendra jamais de vastes proportions ; et il est permis de penser que cet esprit de dévouement qui sommeilla trois siècles durant au cœur du protestantisme, n’est pas précisément l’essence de son caractère, quand on l’a vu, dans les contrées qu’il envahit, tarir jusqu’à la source de l’esprit de sacrifice, en arrêtant avec violence la pratique des conseils évangéliques qui n’ont leur raison d’être que dans l’amour de Dieu.

Gloire donc à Philippe Néri, l’un des plus dignes représentants de la divine charité au XVIe siècle ! Par son impulsion, Rome et bientôt la chrétienté reprirent une vie nouvelle dans la fréquentation des sacrements, dans les aspirations d’une piété plus fervente. Sa parole, sa vue même électrisaient le peuple chrétien dans la cité sainte ; aujourd’hui encore la trace de ses pas n’est point effacée. Chaque année, le vingt-six mai, Rome célèbre avec transport la mémoire de son pacifique réformateur. Philippe partage avec les saints Apôtres les honneurs de Patron dans la ville de saint Pierre. Les travaux sont suspendus, et la population en habits de fête se presse dans les églises pour honorer le jour où Philippe naquit au ciel, après avoir sanctifié la terre. Le Pontife romain en personne se rend en pompe à l’église de Sainte-Marie in Vallicella, et vient acquitter la dette du Siège Apostolique envers l’homme qui releva si haut la dignité et la sainteté de la Mère commune.

Philippe eut le don des miracles, et tandis qu’il ne cherchait que l’oubli et le mépris, il vit s’attacher à lui tout un peuple qui demandait et obtenait par ses prières la guérison des maux de la vie présente, en même temps que la réconciliation des âmes avec Dieu. La mort elle-même obéit à son commandement, témoin ce jeune prince Paul Massimo que Philippe rappela à la vie, lorsque l’on s’apprêtait déjà à lui rendre les soins funéraires. Au moment où cet adolescent rendait le dernier soupir, le serviteur de Dieu dont il avait réclamé l’assistance pour le dernier passage, célébrait le saint Sacrifice. A son entrée dans le palais, Philippe rencontre partout l’image du deuil : un père éploré, des sœurs en larmes, une famille consternée ; tels sont les objets qui frappent ses regards. Le jeune homme venait de succomber après une maladie de soixante-cinq jours, qu’il avait supportée avec la plus rare patience. Philippe se jette à genoux, et après une ardente prière, il impose sa main sur la tête du défunt et l’appelle à haute voix par son nom. Paul, réveillé du sommeil de la mort par cette parole puissante, ouvre les yeux, et répond avec tendresse : « Mon Père ! » Puis il ajoute : « Je voudrais seulement me confesser. » Les assistants s’éloignent un moment, et Philippe reste seul avec cette conquête qu’il vient de faire sur la mort. Bientôt les parents sont rappelés, et Paul, en leur présence, s’entretient avec Philippe d’une mère et d’une sœur qu’il aimait tendrement, et que le trépas lui a ravies. Durant cette conversation, le visage du jeune homme, naguère défiguré par la fièvre, a repris ses couleurs et sa grâce d’autrefois. Jamais Paul n’avait semblé plus plein de vie. Le saint lui demande alors s’il mourrait volontiers de nouveau. — « Oh ! oui, très volontiers, répond le jeune homme ; car je verrai en paradis ma mère et ma sœur. » — « Pars donc, répond Philippe ; pars pour le bonheur, et prie le Seigneur pour moi. » A ces mots, le jeune homme expire de nouveau, et entre dans les joies de l’éternité, laissant l’assistance saisie de regret et d’admiration.

Tel était cet homme favorisé presque constamment des visites du Seigneur dans les ravissements et les extases, doué de l’esprit de prophétie, pénétrant d’un regard les consciences, répandant un parfum de vertu qui attirait les âmes par un charme irrésistible. La jeunesse romaine de toute condition se pressait autour de lui. Aux uns il faisait éviter les écueils ; aux autres il tendait la main dans le naufrage. Les pauvres, les malades, étaient à toute heure l’objet de sa sollicitude. Il se multipliait dans Rome, employant toutes les formes du zèle, et ayant laissé après lui une impulsion pour les bonnes œuvres qui ne s’est pas ralentie.

Philippe avait senti que la conservation des mœurs chrétiennes dépendait principalement d’une heureuse dispensation de la parole de Dieu, et nul ne se montra plus empressé à procurer aux fidèles des apôtres capables de les attirer par une prédication solide et attrayante. Il fonda sous le nom d’Oratoire une institution qui dure encore, et dont le but est de ranimer et de maintenir la piété dans les populations. Cette institution, qu’il ne faut pas confondre avec l’Oratoire de France, a pour but d’utiliser le zèle et les talents des prêtres que la vocation divine n’appelle pas à la vie du cloître, et qui, en associant leurs efforts, arrivent cependant à produire d’abondants fruits de sanctification.

En fondant l’Oratoire sans lier les membres de cette association par les vœux de la religion, Philippe s’accommodait au genre de vocation que ceux-ci avaient reçu du ciel, et leur assurait du moins les avantages d’une règle commune, avec le secours de l’exemple si puissant pour soutenir l’âme dans le service de Dieu et dans la pratique des œuvres du zèle. Mais le saint apôtre était trop attaché à la foi de l’Église pour ne pas estimer la vie religieuse comme l’état de la perfection. Durant toute sa longue carrière, il ne cessa de diriger vers le cloître les âmes qui lui semblèrent appelées à la profession des vœux. Par lui les divers ordres religieux se recrutèrent d’un nombre immense de sujets qu’il avait discernes et éprouvés : en sorte que saint Ignace de Loyola, ami intime de Philippe et son admirateur, le comparaît agréablement à la cloche qui convoque les fidèles à l’Église, bien qu’elle n’y entre pas elle-même.

La crise terrible qui agita la chrétienté au XVIe siècle, et enleva à l’Église catholique un si grand nombre de ses provinces, affecta douloureusement Philippe durant toute sa longue vie. Il souffrait cruellement de voir tant de peuples aller s’engloutir les uns après les autres dans le gouffre de l’hérésie. Les efforts tentés par le zèle pour reconquérir les âmes séduites par la prétendue Réforme faisaient battre son cœur, en même temps qu’il suivait d’un œil attentif les manœuvres à l’aide desquelles le protestantisme travaillait à maintenir son influence. Les Centuries de Magdebourg. vaste compilation historique destinée à donner le change aux lecteurs, en leur persuadant, à l’aide de passages falsifiés, de faits dénaturés et souvent même inventés, que l’Église Romaine avait abandonné l’antique croyance et substitué la superstition aux pratiques primitives ; cet ouvrage sembla à Philippe d’une si dangereuse portée, qu’un travail supérieur en érudition, puisé aux véritables sources, pouvait seul assurer le triomphe de l’Église catholique. Il avait deviné le génie de César Baronius, l’un de ses compagnons à l’Oratoire. Prenant en main la cause de la foi, il commanda à ce savant homme d’entrer tout aussitôt dans la lice, et de poursuivre l’ennemi de la vraie foi en s’établissant sur le terrain de l’histoire. Les Annales ecclésiastiques furent le fruit de cette grande pensée de Philippe ; et Baronius lui-même en rend le plus touchant témoignage en tète de son huitième livre. Trois siècles se sont écoulés sur ce grand œuvre. Avec les moyens de la science dont nous disposons aujourd’hui, il est aise d’en signaler les imperfections ; mais jamais l’histoire de l’Église n’a été racontée avec une dignité, une éloquence et une impartialité supérieures à celles qui règnent dans ce noble et savant récit dont le parcours est de douze siècles. L’hérésie sentit le coup ; l’érudition malsaine et infidèle des Centuriateurs s’éclipsa en présence de cette narration loyale des faits, et l’on peut affirmer que le flot montant du protestantisme s’arrêta devant les Annales de Baronius, dans lesquelles l’Église apparaissait enfin telle qu’elle a été toujours, « la colonne et l’appui de la vérité [2]. » La sainteté de Philippe et le génie de Baronius avaient décidé la victoire ; de nombreux retours à la foi romaine vinrent consoler les catholiques si tristement décimés ; et si de nos jours d’innombrables abjurations annoncent la ruine prochaine du protestantisme, il est juste de l’attribuer en grande partie au succès de la méthode historique inaugurée dans les Annales.

Vous avez aimé le Seigneur Jésus, ô Philippe, et votre vie tout entière n’a été qu’un acte continu d’amour ; mais vous n’avez pas voulu jouir seul du souverain bien. Tous vos efforts ont tendu à le faire connaître de tous les hommes, afin que tous l’aimassent avec vous et parvinssent à leur fin suprême. Durant quarante années, vous fûtes l’apôtre infatigable de la ville sainte, et nul ne pouvait se soustraire à l’action du feu divin qui brûlait en vous. Nous qui sommes la postérité de ceux qui entendirent votre parole et admirèrent les dons célestes qui étaient en vous, nous osons vous prier de jeter aussi les regards sur nous. Enseignez-nous à aimer notre Jésus ressuscité. Il ne nous suffit pas de l’adorer et de nous réjouir de son triomphe ; il nous faut l’aimer : car la suite de ses mystères depuis son incarnation jusqu’à sa résurrection, n’a d’autre but que de nous révéler, dans une lumière toujours croissante, ses divines amabilités. C’est en l’aimant toujours plus que nous parviendrons à nous élever jusqu’au mystère de sa résurrection, qui achève de nous révéler toutes les richesses de son cœur. Plus il s’élève dans la vie nouvelle qu’il a prise en sortant du tombeau, plus il apparaît rempli d’amour pour nous, plus il sollicite notre cœur de s’attacher à lui. Priez, ô Philippe, et demandez que « notre cœur et notre chair tressaillent pour le Dieu vivant [3]. » Après le mystère delà Pâque, introduisez-nous dans celui de l’Ascension ; disposez nos âmes à recevoir le divin Esprit de la Pentecôte ; et lorsque l’auguste mystère de l’Eucharistie brillera à nos regards de tous ses feux dans la solennité qui approche, vous, ô Philippe, qui l’ayant fêté une dernière fois ici-bas, êtes monté à la fin de la journée au séjour éternel où Jésus se montre sans voiles, préparez nos âmes à recevoir et à goûter « ce pain vivant qui donne la vie au monde [4] ».

La sainteté qui éclata en vous, ô Philippe, eut pour caractère l’élan de votre âme vers Dieu, et tous ceux qui vous approchaient participaient bientôt à cette disposition, qui seule peut répondre à l’appel du divin Rédempteur. Vous saviez vous emparer des âmes, et les conduire à la perfection par la voie de la confiance et la générosité du cœur. Dans ce grand œuvre votre méthode fut de n’en pas avoir, imitant les Apôtres et les anciens Pères, et vous confiant dans la vertu propre de la parole de Dieu. Par vous la fréquentation fervente des sacrements reparut comme le plus sûr indice de la vie chrétienne. Priez pour le peuple fidèle, et venez au secours de tant d’âmes qui s’agitent et s’épuisent dans des voies que la main de l’homme a tracées, et qui trop souvent retardent ou empêchent l’union intime du créateur et de la créature.

Vous avez aimé ardemment l’Église, ô Philippe ; et cet amour de l’Église est le signe indispensable de la sainteté. Votre contemplation si élevée ne vous distrayait pas du sort douloureux de cette sainte Épouse du Christ, si éprouvée dans le siècle qui vous vit naître et mourir. Les efforts de l’hérésie triomphante en tant de pays stimulaient le zèle dans votre cœur : obtenez-nous de l’Esprit-Saint cette vive sympathie pour la vérité catholique qui nous rendra sensibles à ses défaites et à ses victoires. Il ne nous suffit pas de sauver nos âmes ; nous devons désirer avec ardeur et aider de tous nos moyens l’avancement du règne de Dieu sur la terre, l’extirpation de l’hérésie et l’exaltation de notre mère la sainte Église : c’est à cette condition que nous sommes enfants de Dieu Inspirez-nous par vos exemples, ô Philippe, cette ardeur avec laquelle nous devons nous associer en tout aux intérêts sacrés de la Mère commune. Priez aussi pour cette Église militante qui vous a compté dans ses rangs comme un de ses meilleurs soldats. Servez vaillamment la cause de cette Rome qui se fait honneur de vous être redevable de tant de services. Vous l’avez sanctifiée durant votre vie mortelle ; sanctifiez-la encore et défendez-la du haut du ciel.

[1] Prov. XV, 15.

[2] I Tim III, 15.

[3] Psalm. LXXXIII, 2.

[4] Johan. VI, 33.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Ce saint prêtre (+ 1591) qui, pendant près d’un demi siècle, exerça à Rome le ministère apostolique, et, dans un milieu léger et corrompu, devint l’oracle des Pontifes, des cardinaux et des personnages les plus insignes de son temps, a si bien mérité du Siège apostolique que, jusqu’à ces dernières années, sa fête était assimilée aux dimanches dans la Ville éternelle, et le Pontife lui-même, en cortège de gala, allait célébrer les divins mystères sur le tombeau du Saint à Sainte-Marie in Vallicella.

Il est presque impossible de parler brièvement des mérites de saint Philippe et de la part importante qu’il eut dans la réforme ecclésiastique du XVIe siècle. Ami de saint Charles et du cardinal Frédéric Borromée, confesseur de saint Camille et de saint Ignace, père spirituel de Baronius, confesseur de Clément VIII, on peut dire que son influence salutaire s’étendit à tous les divers aspects de la réforme, en sorte que même si l’on pouvait faire abstraction de sa sainteté, l’activité de saint Philippe lui aurait indubitablement mérité une place d’honneur dans l’histoire du XVIe siècle.

Par la fondation de la Congrégation des Prêtres de l’Oratoire, Philippe, en un champ sans doute beaucoup plus restreint et avec des vues quelque peu diverses, se proposa 3e même but que saint Ignace : celui de ramener à la religion la société chrétienne, moyennant la fréquentation des Sacrements et l’enseignement du catéchisme.

Tandis qu’en Allemagne les protestants accusaient l’Église catholique d’avoir soustrait la Bible au peuple, saint Philippe ordonnait que, dans son église de Saint-Jérôme, on commentât l’épître de saint Paul aux Romains ; il répondit aux centuries de Magdebourg en imposant à Baronius d’exposer à cinq ou six reprises dans ses conférences du soir l’histoire de l’Église, puis de publier ces études qui remplissent douze gros in-folio.

L’hérésie luthérienne, avec ses erreurs sur la grâce et le libre arbitre, avait tari les sources mêmes de la joie ; saint Philippe, par ses soirées musicales et poétiques qui prirent alors leur nom d’oratorios du lieu où le saint les faisait exécuter ; par ses récréations sur le Janicule, où à l’ombre d’un chêne, il se faisait enfant avec les enfants, sagement ; par ses pèlerinages aux tombeaux des martyrs et aux sept principales églises de la Ville éternelle, restitua à la vie catholique sa vraie tonalité, celle qu’exigeait aussi saint Paul quand il écrivait à ses fidèles : Gaudete in Domino semper ; iterum dico : gaudete.

Très pénitent et dur pour lui-même, Philippe était doux avec les autres et, au besoin, même facétieux, anticipant dans la pratique ce que, quelque temps plus tard, devait enseigner saint François de Sales, à savoir qu’un saint triste est un triste saint. A l’occasion, saint Philippe savait même ressusciter les morts, écouter leur confession, causer avec eux, et, à leur demande, les rendre, d’un signe de croix, à l’éternité. Et pour que la nouveauté de tels prodiges ne lui conciliât pas l’admiration du peuple, il aimait à se comporter de manière à se rendre méprisable et à se faire passer pour insensé ; c’est ainsi que, le jour de la fête de saint Pierre aux Liens, il se mit à danser devant la basilique de ce nom.

A l’offre de la pourpre cardinalice qui lui avait été faite tant de fois par les papes, Philippe opposa toujours un refus sans réplique ; et il sut si heureusement inspirer ce même esprit d’humilité à ses disciples, spécialement à Tarugi et à Baronius que, quand ce dernier fut créé cardinal, on dut le dépouiller de force de ses vieux vêtements d’oratorien, dans la sacristie même de la Vallicella, pour le revêtir malgré lui de la soutane rouge et du rochet, selon les ordres du Pontife.

L’office de saint Philippe Neri fut introduit dans le Bréviaire romain par Urbain VIII. La messe a certaines parties propres, mais cette exception fut fort à propos introduite pour celui qui avait tant et si bien mérité de la sainte liturgie et qui, dans l’incendie du divin amour qui liquéfiait son cœur, avait coutume d’employer trois heures à célébrer les divins Mystères.

L’introït est le même que le samedi après la Pentecôte ; il contient une allusion évidente au prodige survenu dans le cimetière ad Catacumbas, alors que Philippe, priant durant la nuit dans ces cryptes des martyrs, le Saint-Esprit descendit sur lui. Dès lors, le cœur embrasé du Saint commença à battre si fortement pour Dieu que plusieurs de ses côtes se soulevèrent et s’arquèrent.

Voici la collecte, très sobre, et d’un goût classique : « O Dieu qui avez élevé à la gloire de vos saints le bienheureux Philippe ; aujourd’hui que nous célébrons sa fête, accordez-nous d’imiter aussi l’exemple de ses vertus. »

La première lecture est commune à la fête de saint Thomas d’Aquin, le 7 mars, et fait allusion à cette sagesse surnaturelle qui auréolait la tête blanche de saint Philippe quand, assidu au saint tribunal de la pénitence, il dirigeait les consciences et formait à la vraie sainteté la foule de ses pénitents.

Le répons-graduel, commun à la IVe férie des grands scrutins de Carême, est tiré du psaume 33 et développe encore mieux l’idéal de l’école d’ascèse, que dirigeait le Saint : « Allons, mes enfants, écoutez-moi, car je vous apprendrai à craindre le Seigneur. » — Dans le verset suivant, le texte hébreu diffère un peu de celui de la Vulgate. — « Fixez les yeux sur lui et vous serez tranquilles, et votre visage ne rougira pas. »

Le verset alléluiatique revient sur le miracle du cimetière ad Catacumbas. « Alléluia (Thren., 1, 13). D’en haut il fit tomber le feu sur mes os, et il m’instruisit. » — Le sens littéral de ce texte est bien différent toutefois, puisqu’il s’agit des Babyloniens qui avaient incendié les divers quartiers de Jérusalem.

Au temps pascal, le premier verset alléluiatique est celui que nous venons d’emprunter aux Lamentations de Jérémie ; quant au second, il est tiré du psaume 38 : « Mon cœur brûle dans mon sein, et dans mon âme un feu s’est allumé. »

Ces derniers mots s’appliquent au Saint-Esprit qui nous communique la vie divine de Jésus. C’est à bon droit qu’on le compare à un feu, car lui aussi purifie, consume, réchauffe et éclaire. Il n’est pas de voie plus sûre et plus courte pour arriver à la sainteté, que de nous livrer à cet incendie d’amour. Dieu lui-même nous répète plusieurs fois dans la sainte Écriture : Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est.

La lecture évangélique est celle des simples Confesseurs . L’antienne de l’offertoire revient sur le phénomène de la dilatation et de la courbure des côtes de saint Philippe, conséquence des violents battements de son cœur. ps. 118 : « Je marchai dans la voie de vos préceptes, après que vous avez agrandi mon cœur. »

Par cette dilatation du cœur dont parle le Psalmiste, il faut entendre ceci : ce que l’on trouve difficile, au début, dans la vie spirituelle, on le fait ensuite sans peine, et même avec une inexprimable joie, grâce à la bonne habitude contractée, et à la divine charité répandue dans l’âme par le Saint-Esprit. En effet, il est dans la nature de l’amour de travailler, de se sacrifier, sans jamais se lasser.

La prière avant l’anaphore s’inspire de la belle secrète du vendredi durant l’octave de la Pentecôte : « Regardez favorablement, Seigneur, ce sacrifice ; et comme l’Esprit Saint pénétra dans le cœur du bienheureux Philippe, qu’il brûle pareillement le nôtre. »

Voici le verset pour la Communion (Ps. 83) : « Mon cœur et ma chair exulteront dans le Dieu vivant. » — Le rédacteur de la messe ne peut pas perdre de vue le prodige du cœur dilaté de saint Philippe ; il en est généralement ainsi pour tous les rédacteurs de messes modernes qui, impressionnés par quelque fait caractéristique de la vie d’un Saint, adaptent à ce fait, avec l’aide d’une concordance scripturale, toute leur composition liturgique. A la vérité, il y a tant à dire au sujet de saint Philippe que la messe aurait pu être beaucoup plus variée.

La prière eucharistique représente une simple adaptation d’une collecte plus ancienne : « Maintenant que nous sommes nourris. Seigneur, des célestes délices ; accordez-nous, par les mérites et à l’imitation du bienheureux Philippe, un immense désir de cet aliment de vie. »

Une sentence de saint Philippe est mémorable entre toutes : mettant deux doigts sur le front de ses disciples, il disait que la sainteté est toute comprise en ce petit espace, car tout consiste à mortifier la raisonnante.


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

« Tu as dilaté mon cœur. »

Saint Philippe. – Jour de mort : 26 mai 1595 (le jour de la Fête-Dieu). Tombeau : dans l’église des Trinitaires, à Rome. Image : On le représente en Oratorien, avec un bâton et un chapelet. Vie : Le saint, aimable et toujours joyeux (1515-1595), l’un des apôtres de Rome, est une des plus belles figures de saint du XVIe siècle. L’amour de Dieu, un amour brûlant qui se communiquait, à leur insu, à ceux qui l’approchaient, forme le trait caractéristique de sa vie. Dans sa vingt-neuvième année, (dans l’octave de la Pentecôte), le feu de l’amour divin enflamma tellement son cœur qu’il fit sauter deux de ses côtes. Cette déchirure ne se guérit jamais et, ainsi, le saint put vivre pendant cinquante ans dans l’ardeur d’un amour qui appartenait déjà plus au ciel qu’à la terre. La tâche de sa vie fut de procurer, pendant un apostolat de cinquante ans à Rome, un renouvellement de la vie religieuse. Il réussit heureusement dans cette tâche. Il eut le mérite de restaurer la pratique de la communion fréquente, qui était tombée en désuétude à Rome et dans toute la chrétienté. C’est ce qui lui mérita de devenir un des saints protecteurs de Rome et l’un des saints les plus populaires. Saint Philippe aimait beaucoup la jeunesse, qui se pressait autour de lui. Ce fut un confesseur très recherché. Il voulut continuer l’efficacité de sa vie sainte en fondant la Congrégation de l’Oratoire. Le but de cette société de prêtres réunis sans vœux est de développer la piété dans le peuple.

Pratique : Jeune homme, il visitait souvent les sept basiliques romaines et il passait volontiers des nuits entières dans le voisinage des catacombes, par conséquent à proximité des martyrs, occupé à méditer les choses saintes, Il puisa dans la liturgie l’esprit apostolique. La liturgie doit nous rendre aptes, nous aussi, à l’action catholique.

La messe. (Caritas Dei). — La messe est formée en grande partie, de textes propres qui font d’ordinaire allusion au grand cœur du saint. L’Introït parle du grand événement qui se passa aux catacombes. Une nuit que le saint priait aux catacombes, le Saint-Esprit descendit sur lui et enflamma son cœur de l’amour divin. La leçon célèbre la sagesse surnaturelle de Philippe. Le Graduel chante l’élargissement de son cœur, et le verset de l’Alléluia son amour des enfants. Le saint marcha vraiment dans la vie comme un serviteur vigilant, la lampe ardente de l’amour divin à la main et les reins ceints de la ceinture de la pénitence (Évang.) Les trois morceaux suivants (Off., Sec., Comm.) nous parlent du cœur brûlant d’amour de saint Philippe.



SAINT PHILIPPE NERI

1515-1595 fondateur de l’Oratoire – canonisé 11 12 mars 1622 – fête 26 mai

Tiré du livre «Il grande libro dei santi» ed. San Paolo

LES PREMIÈRES ANNÉES DU JEUNE PHILIPPE

Né le 21 juillet 1515 dans un quartier populeux d’outre-Arno à Florence, il fut baptisé comme tous les florentins dans le baptistère de St. Jean avec le nom de Philippe Romulus. On sait très peu de son enfance: son père François exerçait la profession de notaire; sa mère, Lucrèce de Mosciano, mourut très tôt et le soin du petit Philippe restait confié à sa belle-mère. Suivant le témoignage de sa sœur Élisabeth, on sait que, bien que son caractère altruiste et joyeux, il était surnommé «Pippo le bon» (surnom qui lui restait pour toute la vie), il ne montrait jamais une vocation ou une dévotion particulière. La seule donnée certaine c’est la fréquence du couvent de St. Marc, («Ce que j’ai eu de bon – il aurait dit plus tard – je l’ai eu par les pères de St. Marc) où il put respirer la spiritualité de Savonarole, encore bien vive particulièrement pendant les années de la crise politique de la république et du siège de Florence (1527-1530).

Philippe se transfère a Rome

À l’âge de 18 ans, en tout cas, quitta Florence, où il ne devait plus retourner, pour être en apprentissage de commerce chez son cousin à St. Germain en Campanie, suivant une diffuse habitude. Mais le commerce ne devait pas être sa vocation, parce qu’en 1534-1535 on le retrouve déjà à Rome, où il serait resté pour plus de 60 années, jusqu’à sa mort, dans les décennies des changements plus radicaux, dès les premières tensions réformatrices au triomphe de la Contre-réforme, dès la Renaissance jusqu’à son terme dans l’émergent monde du Baroque. Pendant les premières années il vit comme précepteur chez un homme d’affaires florentin, Galeotto del Caccia. Son temps semblait se diviser parmi les devoirs de précepteur, la fréquence à quelque cours de théologie et de philosophie auprès de l’Université de la Sagesse et l’étude général des augustiniens, et un continu pèlerinage spirituel solitaire à travers l’ancienne Rome (des catacombes et des basiliques) et à travers la nouvelle Rome des jeunes de route, des artisans et des commerçants, des hommes d’affaires des Bancs: l’expérience mystique au fur et à mesure dominante et arguë dans le rapport avec des autres spirituels qui animaient la ville pendant les dernières années du pontificat de Paul III (comme Bonsignore Cacciaguerra) se joignit au désir de réforme, suite à l’Église primitive comme modèle de l’expérience chrétienne individuelle et collective. En 1548 il collabora avec Persan Rosa, son confesseur, à la fondation de la confrérie de la Sainte Trinité consacrée en particulier aux pauvres pèlerins: l’activité menée pendant la Sainte Année 1550 c’est donc centrale dans sa vie, pour la fusion entre l’anxiété de perfection individuelle et la recherche d’une propre spécifique mission pour la réforme de l’Église.

Philippe prêtre

Après avoir reçu en peu de mois les ordres mineurs et majeurs, il fut sacré prêtre le 23 mai 1551 (à la veille de la fête de la Sainte Trinité et à l’anniversaire du bûcher de Savonarole). Comme prêtre il entra parmi les chapelains de l’église de St. Girolamo de la Charité, sans aucuns émoluments de la part de la confrérie qui la géra pour maintenir sa liberté «offerens se volle servire suo arbitrio»: les chapelains de St. Girolamo constituèrent une communauté mais, en exerçant les fonctions de confesseurs et directeurs de conscience, ils devirent, avec le groupe des jésuites auprès de l’église du Jésus et des dominicains auprès de la Minerve, un centre de spiritualité pour amples classes populaires et même après, avec le développement de la réforme de Trente, pour les hommes de Curie, prélats, appartements à la haute finance et au patriciat. De toute façon, les pénitents autour de Philippe entre le 1553 et le 1555 commençaient à prendre une physionomie de groupe par des réunions qui apportèrent peu à peu à la constitution de l’Oratoire.

Des lectures et oraisons communes parmi peu de gens dans la petite chambre de Philippe, on passa à des réunion toujours plus nombreuses dans un grenier surmontant l’église; en 1564 la petite communauté constituée autour de Philippe accepta, sous demande des marchands et des hommes politiques florentins, la responsabilité de la paroisse de St. Jean des Florentins: ici s’installèrent, tandis que Philippe restait à St. Girolamo, les premiers fils spirituel devenus prêtres, César Baronio, Alexandre Fedeli, Jean-François Bordini (auxquels des autres se joindrons très tôt), comme une communauté sans aucun lien de vœux. Au succès toujours plus grand des réunions de l’Oratoire, des promenades pieuses collectives quotidiennes dans les rues et les églises de Rome, des plus solennelles visites aux sept églises (pèlerinages de la durée d’un jour entier avec des messes, des sermons, des chants et aussi avec un petit déjeuner en plein air), auxquelles surtout pendant les journées du Carnaval arrivaient à participer en quelques années plus d’un millier de monde, correspondu une considérable méfiance, particulièrement aiguë pendant les pontificats de Paul IV et Pie V ; il y eut des enquêtes de la part du vicariat romain et de l’Inquisition, en étant chose «insolite» cette méthode de raisonnement spirituels, avec la participation des laïcs, cette dévotion ne niait ni la liturgie officielle ni les sacrements, mais cherchait de nouveaux espaces pour la perfection cléricale et laïque au delà des canaux coutumiers. De toute façon, ces enquêtes se terminèrent dans le néant et l’influence de Philippe et de son groupe devenait toujours plus forte même dans le milieu curial posthume auquel de Trente: aux réunions et aux initiatives participaient les prélats et les cardinaux très liés à la réforme religieuse, beaucoup d’eux étaient aussi des disciples spirituels de Philippe.

La communauté des oratoriens

Grégoire XIII avec la Bulle Copiosus en miséricorde du 15 juillet 1575 reconnut la nouvelle communauté, en lui confiant comme congrégation de prêtres et clercs la petite paroisse de Sainte Marie de la Petite Vallée. La vieille petite église fut abattue et pendant deux années fut édifiée la grande nef de la majestueuse église actuelle (mais les travaux d’achèvement et de construction de dépendants édifices d’habitation et de l’Oratoire seraient durés longtemps) avec un effort même financier qui témoigne l’adhésion que Philippe et son groupe avaient trouvée dans la haute société romaine. En 1577 les prêtres de l’Oratoire se transférèrent à la Petite Vallée, sauf Philippe qui n’avait jamais abandonné ses petites pièces dans St. Girolamo et que seulement en 1583 accepta, à cause des pressions du pape et des problèmes de se santé, de se déplacer auprès de sa communauté de laquelle il restait chef charismatique en plus de prévôt perpétuel: mais sa chambre pendant les dernières années de sa vie semblait être le barycentre d’une vie qui allait bien au-delà du groupe de ses collaborateurs; il était point de référence et conseiller des prélats, cardinaux et même des pontifes, et c’est connue l’influence exercée par Philippe sur Clément VIII pour l’absolution de Henri IV de Navarre. En 1593, ensuite à une douloureuse et longue maladie (il avait déjà 78 ans), il démissionna du rôle de prévôt de la congrégation (premier successeur fut César Baronio) et il mourut le 26 mai 1595, assisté par le cardinal Frédéric Borromée.

Les miracles et la canonisation

Le culte qui se répandit immédiatement après sa mort, avec l’extension de la dévotion et l’attribution d’innombrables miracles, semble la directe continuation de la vénération de laquelle il se rejouait largement même en vie avec la réputation des vertus et des capacités de thaumaturges qui avaient déjà entouré sa personne. Le procès canonique commencé tout de suite, se conclut en 1615 ave la béatification; la canonisation fut en 1622.

Le manque presque total d’écrits ne permet pas l’élucidation d’une doctrine spirituelle: la caractéristique particulière de Philippe semble, cependant, la coïncidence absolue entre la vie concrète de la personne et l’expérience spirituelle, avec la réduction au ralenti de chaque élaboration théorique. Le stéréotype traditionnel de Philippe Neri est ce d’un homme serein, joyeux, qui savait composer l’amour de Dieu, du prochain, des animaux, de la nature, dans une innocence maintenue dans sa fraîcheur jusqu’à sa dernière vieillesse. Ainsi nous ont transmis aussi son image les deux amis et dévoués cardinaux Augustin Valier et Gabriel Paleotti dans deux livres, respectivement De lætitia christiana et De bono senectutis, qui élisent Philippe comme prototype de l’humanisme chrétien dans lequel autorité et liberté d’esprit, pitié et participation aux joies et aux douleurs quotidiens de la vie, sont fondus d’une façon harmonique.

De ce point de vue il y a beaucoup de vrai, même s’il est nécessaire ne pas tomber dans la déformation d’une image naïvement enfantine de Philippe. Sa simplicité et son propre caractère farceur et facétieux servaient très souvent, même si pas certainement comme masque, pour couvrir les tensions d’un ascétisme sans demi-mesures, d’un engagement total au service de Dieu et du prochain, tensions qui caractérisaient les pénitences et le continu engagement dans les œuvres de charité de sa vie quotidienne et celle de ses disciples. En cherchant de situer dans un contexte historique et de définir le noyau de son message dans une époque de bouleversants changement de la Rome papale et de la chrétienté, je crois qu’on peut dire que si dans un premier temps l’impulsion mystique qui le domina (et qui le caractérisa même physiquement avec continues et fréquentes palpitations cardiaques) fut commun à beaucoup des groupes spirituels qui se greffèrent dans la Rome du XVIe siècle (ainsi les lectures premières de Philippe et de son groupe, des mystiques médiévaux aux vies des pères du désert, à l’Imitation de Christ, à Savonarole), le message spécifique devint celui d’une sainteté anti-héroïque, d’une perfection de la vie spirituelle qu’on peut rejoindre en toute condition de vie, de l’artisanat au curial, du père d’une famille au prélat, sans se séparer du monde mais au contraire, par l’exercice des vertus élémentaires de charité, simplicité, patience, à travers l’acceptation joyeuse des souffrances et même de la mort comme accomplissement et perfection de la nature humaine.

D’ici le connu et continu rappel à la nécessité de la joie, du soin de la santé, de l’équilibre psychique; la méfiance pas seulement pour toutes visions et extases, mais aussi de tous élans exagéré et immodéré d’ascèse et pénitence destiné à ne pas durer dans le temps: «et si guastano et non sono più boni né per sé né per gli altri». Rien de la pratique liturgique et sacramental de Trente venait exclu: messe et dévotion eucharistique, confession et communion fréquente (toujours avec discrétion des temps, cas pour cas, de la quotidienneté aux périodicité différentes), prière vocale, culte des saints. Mais il faut dire que ces pratiques étaient vécues dans une façon complètement originale par Philippe et par son groupe, principalement avec l’exercice de l’Oratoire quotidien (rien de plus antithétique au contemporain développement des exercices ignaciens qui jettent leurs bases dans la séparation du monde). Mais pas seulement: l’eucharistie pas comme sacrifice mais comme sommet de la prière quotidienne et nourriture; la confession semblait n’avoir rien à faire avec le tribunal de la Contre-réforme, pour devenir au contraire une tendre occasion de dialogues spirituels et lieu principal où manifester la discretio spirituum dans un rapport interpersonnel qui était en train de s’ouvrir à la modernité; l’implication continue de la ville avec le dépassement des églises et des sanctuaires (promenades dans les places et les ateliers, visites collectives et individuelles aux hôpitaux et aux autres lieux pieux, pèlerinages aux sept églises et parcours dévots) était aussi chose singulière destinée à décliner dans la Rome baroque, mais proposée pleine d’originalité; dans le clergé même la création d’un tertium genus de prêtre de Trente, assez anormale: ni prêtre avec soin des âmes, ni religieux lié des vœux et de l’obéissance, divisé du monde mais librement partagé de la vie de l’homme commun. Au fond la conviction précise que la réforme de l’Église et de Rome ne pouvaient pas naître de la constitution d’un clergé séculier régulier comme classe séparée, mais d’un renouvellement global du peuple chrétien dans ses structures historiques concrètes, dans sa modernité: d’ici l’intérêt pas secondaire de Philippe pour les mécanismes de la vie économique – comme témoignent quelques miracles à lui attribués – de la vie courtisane o de celle productive (sa passion pour les horloges ne peut pas être considérée une des ses folies ou étrangeté).



Giuseppe Sammartino. Busto di San Filippo Neri,
 scultura in terracotta, vers1780, Quadreria dei Girolamini, Napoli

L’Oratoire

L’Oratoire représente, comme on a déjà signé, la projection fondamentale de la spiritualité de Philippe et sa particulière créature à l’intérieur de variés courants spirituels du XVIe siècle italien. Ce n’était pas une formule fixe, mais un instrument flexible, un procédé plus qu’une ordonnance rigide, qui se distinguait même dans la méthode des exercices ignaciens. Né des réunions de l’après-midi dans la petite chambre de Philippe à St. Girolamo, en 1552, comme ensemble de lectures et conversations spirituelles parmi un restreint groupe d’amis, il s’étendit en se déplaçant tout d’abord dans un grenier-dépôt au-dessus de la même église de St. Girolamo, après dans un local contigu l’église de St. Jean au bord du Tibre et enfin à la Petite Vallée, en attirant un monde bariolé, composé par des membres de la société de cour mais aussi par beaucoup de gens du peuple et artisans dans leurs heures de l’après-midi libres dans les jours ouvrables. La formule était très libre et flexible dans l’adaptation aux variés niveaux de culture: pendant les deux heures passées de sa durée tout le monde pouvait entrer et sortir en suivant ses possibilités et ses intérêts; les sermons étaient prononcés dans une forme simple et dialogique, pas d’une chaire mais d’une chaise, avec une totale répudiation de la rhétorique traditionnelle et autoritaire du sermon. D’habitude on commençait avec la lecture de livres dévots et de vies des saints, après il y avait les sermons (quatre dans la période de majeure splendeur) avec la distribution par roulement quotidien alterné (un plus cultivé et élaboré ; pour beaucoup d’années César Baronio exposa sujets de l’histoire ecclésiastique, en conduisant avec cette œuvre de divulgation la composition de ses Annales); après des musiques et des chants avec la participation d’amis musicien comme Jean Animuccia et François Soto Langa qui publièrent leurs laudes composées pour l’Oratoire pendant la vie de Philippe, en passant de la simple monodie à l’exécution polyphonique plus enrichie: on ne se traitait pas encore de l’«Oratoire » comme genre musicale, qui se serait développé seulement plus tard en 1600 par la génération suivante, mais qui a eu sûrement ici ses racines spirituelles et artistiques. Une brève intervention de père Philippe ou d’un de ses substituts et les prières finales concluaient le rencontre. Le soir un groupe plus restreint commença à se réunir pour des autres prières et méditations (quelques jours de la semaine même avec l’exercice de la «disciplina») et de ce Oratoire «piccolo» naquit la communauté qui prit forme dans la vie commune à St. Jean des Florentins avec quelques règles élémentaires pour la vie quotidienne, mais sans construire un ordre religieux. Philippe ne voulut jamais constituer un nouveau ordre religieux, soit pour sa inclinaison naturelle à la liberté («pour ne pas être désobéis, il avait l’habitude de dire, il ne faut pas commander»), soit pour le précis choix de ne pas constituer, par vœux et autres liens juridiques, un corps séparé du peuple chrétien.

Malgré la bulle de reconnaissance de la congrégation par Grégoire XIII en 1575 prévît la rédaction des règles ou constitutions, Philippe renvoya d’année en année le problème. Seulement en 1582-1583 fut élaborée une première épreuve, en 1588 fut étendu un second texte et en 1595-1596 un troisième avec un nombre minimum de règles de vie en commun, fondées sur le consentement, sur la fonction du «prévôt», sur la subsistance d’une large sphère de liberté personnelle (y compris le droit de propriété). Cette fermeté de Philippe apporta déjà dans les années Soixante-dix à une première friction avec Charles Borromée qui voulait utiliser les oratoriens en les insérant dans les structures diocésaines milanaises (après le refus de Philippe, qui retira en 1576 les quatre prêtres qu’il avait envoyés peu avant à Milan, après Charles aurait fondé les oblat de St. Ambroise) et à contrastes, en les années Quatre-vingts, aussi à l’intérieur même de la communauté oratorienne près des pères romains, étroitement liés à l’idéal de liberté complète (soit à l’intérieur d’individuelles communautés soit dans les rapports parmi les différentes communautés oratoriennes qui étaient en train de se développer dans différentes villes) et les pères de l’Oratoire de Naples, qui soutenaient la nécessité d’une organisation de type presque monacal. Dans le délicat passage suivi à la mort de Philippe fut confirmé le refuse des vœux, et ce principe fut accueilli même dans les constitutions de la congrégation, approuvées finalement par Paul V avec bref Christifidelium du 24 février 1612, avec un difficile équilibre entre la nécessité de type institutionnel et l’idéal oratorien de la liberté qui a constitué la singularité des communautés oratoriens dans le droit canonique jusqu’à nos jours.

SOURCE : http://users.libero.it/luigi.scrosoppi/santi/filippofra.htm


Saint Philippe de Néri et saint Charles Borromée. Anonyme du XVIIe. Bourgogne.

St. Philip Romolo Neri

THE APOSTLE OF ROME.

Born at Florence, Italy, 22 July, 1515; died 27 May, 1595. Philip's family originally came from Castelfranco but had lived for many generations in Florence, where not a few of its members had practised the learned professions, and therefore took rank with the Tuscan nobility. Among these was Philip's own father, FrancescoNeri, who eked out an insufficient private fortune with what he earned as a notary. A circumstance which had no small influence on the life of the saint was Francesco's friendship with the Dominicans; for it was from thefriars of S. Marco, amid the memories of Savonarola, that Philip received many of his early religiousimpressions. Besides a younger brother, who died in early childhood, Philip had two younger sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta. It was with them that "the good Pippo", as he soon began to be called, committed his onlyknown fault. He gave a slight push to Caterina, because she kept interrupting him and Elisabetta, while they were reciting psalms together, a practice of which, as a boy, he was remarkably fond. One incident of his childhood is dear to his early biographers as the first visible intervention of Providence on his behalf, and perhaps dearer still to his modern disciples, because it reveals the human characteristics of a boy amid the supernatural graces of a saint. When about eight years old he was left alone in a courtyard to amuse himself; seeing a donkey laden with fruit, he jumped on its back; the beast bolted, and both tumbled into a deep cellar. His parents hastened to the spot and extricated the child, not dead, as they feared, but entirely uninjured.


From the first it was evident that Philip's career would run on no conventional lines; when shown his family pedigree he tore it up, and the burning of his father's house left him unconcerned. Having studied the humanities under the best scholars of a scholarly generation, at the age of sixteen he was sent to help hisfather's cousin in business at S. Germano, near Monte Cassino. He applied himself with diligence, and hiskinsman soon determined to make him his heir. But he would often withdraw for prayer to a little mountain chapel belonging to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, built above the harbour of Gaeta in a cleft of rock which tradition says was among those rent at the hour of Our Lord's death. It was here that his vocationbecame definite: he was called to be the Apostle of Rome. In 1533 he arrived in Rome without any money. He had not informed his father of the step he was taking, and he had deliberately cut himself off from hiskinsman's patronage. He was, however, at once befriended by Galeotto Caccia, a Florentine resident, who gave him a room in his house and an allowance of flour, in return for which he undertook the education of his two sons. For seventeen years Philip lived as a layman in Rome, probably without thinking of becoming apriest. It was perhaps while tutor to the boys, that he wrote most of the poetry which he composed both inLatin and in Italian. Before his death he burned all his writings, and only a few of his sonnets have come down to us. He spent some three years, beginning about 1535, in the study of philosophy at the Sapienza, and of theology in the school of the Augustinians. When he considered that he had learnt enough, he sold his books, and gave the price to the poor. Though he never again made study his regular occupation, whenever he was called upon to cast aside his habitual reticence, he would surprise the most learned with the depth and clearness of his theological knowledge.

He now devoted himself entirely to the sanctification of his own soul and the good of his neighbour. His activeapostolate began with solitary and unobtrusive visits to the hospitals. Next he induced others to accompany him. Then he began to frequent the shops, warehouses, banks, and public places of Rome, melting the hearts of those whom he chanced to meet, and exhorting them to serve God. In 1544, or later, he became the friend of St. Ignatius. Many of his disciples tried and found their vocations in the infant Society of Jesus; but themajority remained in the world, and formed the nucleus of what afterwards became the Brotherhood of the Little Oratory. Though he "appeared not fasting to men", his private life was that of a hermit. His single daily meal was of bread and water, to which a few herbs were sometimes added, the furniture of his room consisted of a bed, to which he usually preferred the floor, a table, a few chairs, and a rope to hang his clothes on; and he disciplined himself frequently with small chains. Tried by fierce temptations, diabolical as well as human, he passed through them all unscathed, and the purity of his soul manifested itself in certain striking physical traits. He prayed at first mostly in the church of S. Eustachio, hard by Caccia's house. Next he took to visiting the Seven Churches. But it was in the catacomb of S. Sebastiano — confounded by early biographers with that of S. Callisto — that he kept the longest vigils and received the most abundant consolations. In this catacomb, a few days before Pentecost in 1544, the well-known miracle of his heart took place. Baccidescribes it thus: "While he was with the greatest earnestness asking of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and thereupon he was suddenly surprised with such a fire of love, that, unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, bared his breast to temper in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a violent tremour; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart, a swelling about as big as a man's fist, but neither then nor afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain or wound." The cause of this swelling was discovered by the doctors who examined his body after death. The saint's heart had been dilated under the sudden impulse of love, and in order that it might have sufficient room to move, two ribs had been broken, and curved in the form of an arch. From the time of the miracle till his death, his heart would palpitate violently whenever he performed any spiritual action.

During his last years as a layman, Philip's apostolate spread rapidly. In 1548, together with his confessor,Persiano Rosa, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for looking after pilgrims and convalescents. Its members met for Communion, prayer, and other spiritual exercises in the church of S. Salvatore, and the saint himself introduced exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month (see FORTY HOURS' DEVOTION). At these devotions Philip preached, though still a layman, and we learn that on one occasion alone he converted no less than thirty dissolute youths. In 1550 a doubt occurred to him as to whether he should not discontinue his active work and retire into absolute solitude. His perplexity was set at rest by a vision of St. John the Baptist, and by another vision of two souls in glory, one of whom was eating a roll of bread, signifying God's will that he should live in Rome for the good of souls as though he were in a desert, abstaining as far as possible from the use of meat.

In 1551, however, he received a true vocation from God. At the bidding of his confessor — nothing short of this would overcome his humility — he entered the priesthood, and went to live at S. Girolamo, where a staffof chaplains was supported by the Confraternity of Charity. Each priest had two rooms assigned to him, in which he lived, slept, and ate, under no rule save that of living in charity with his brethren. Among Philip'snew companions, besides Persiano Rosa, was Buonsignore Cacciaguerra (see "A Precursor of St. Philip" by LadyAnnabel Kerr, London), a remarkable penitent, who was at that time carrying on a vigorous propaganda in favour of frequent Communion. Philip, who as a layman had been quietly encouraging the frequent reception of the sacraments, expended the whole of his priestly energy in promoting the same cause; but unlike hisprecursor, he recommended the young especially to confess more often than they communicated. The church of S. Girolamo was much frequented even before the coming of Philip, and his confessional there soon became the centre of a mighty apostolate. He stayed in church, hearing confessions or ready to hear them, from daybreak till nearly midday, and not content with this, he usually confessed some forty persons in his room before dawn. Thus he laboured untiringly throughout his long priesthood. As a physician of souls he received marvellous gifts from God. He would sometimes tell a penitent his most secret sins without his confessingthem; and once he converted a young nobleman by showing him a vision of hell. Shortly before noon he would leave his confessional to say Mass. His devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, like the miracle of his heart, is one of those manifestations of sanctity which are peculiarly his own. So great was the fervour of his charity, that, instead of recollecting himself before Mass, he had to use deliberate means of distraction in order to attend to the external rite. During the last five years of his life he had permission to celebrate privately in a little chapel close to his room. At the "Agnus Dei" the server went out, locked the doors, and hung up a notice: "Silence, the Father is saying Mass". When he returned in two hours or more, the saint was so absorbed in God that he seemed to be at the point of death.

Philip devoted his afternoons to men and boys, inviting them to informal meetings in his room, taking them to visit churches, interesting himself in their amusements, hallowing with his sweet influence every department of their lives. At one time he had a longing desire to follow the example of St. Francis Xavier, and go to India. With this end in view, he hastened the ordination of some of his companions. But in 1557 he sought the counsel of a Cistercian at Tre Fontane; and as on a former occasion he had been told to make Rome his desert, so now the monk communicated to him a revelation he had had from St. John the Evangelist, that Rome was to be his India. Philip at once abandoned the idea of going abroad, and in the following year the informal meetings in his room developed into regular spiritual exercises in an oratory, which he built over thechurch. At these exercises laymen preached and the excellence of the discourses, the high quality of the music, and the charm of Philip's personality attracted not only the humble and lowly, but men of the highest rank and distinction in Church and State. Of these, in 1590, Cardinal Nicolo Sfondrato, became Pope Gregory XIV, and the extreme reluctance of the saint alone prevented the pontiff from forcing him to accept the cardinalate. In 1559, Philip began to organize regular visits to the Seven Churches, in company with crowds ofmen, priests and religious, and laymen of every rank and condition. These visits were the occasion of a short but sharp persecution on the part of a certain malicious faction, who denounced him as "a setter-up of new sects". The cardinal vicar himself summoned him, and without listening to his defence, rebuked him in the harshest terms. For a fortnight the saint was suspended from hearing confessions; but at the end of that time he made his defence, and cleared himself before the ecclesiastical authorities. In 1562, the Florentines inRome begged him to accept the office of rector of their church, S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, but he was reluctant to leave S. Girolamo. At length the matter was brought before Pius IV, and a compromise was arrived at (1564). While remaining himself at S. Girolamo, Philip became rector of S. Giovanni, and sent five priests, one of whom was Baronius, to represent him there. They lived in community under Philip as their superior, taking their meals together, and regularly attending the exercises at S. Girolamo. In 1574, however, the exercises began to be held in an oratory at S. Giovanni. Meanwhile the community was increasing in size, and in 1575 it was formally recognised by Gregory XIII as the Congregation of the Oratory, and given the church of S. Mariain Vallicella. The fathers came to live there in 1577, in which year they opened the Chiesa Nuova, built on the site of the old S. Maria, and transferred the exercises to a new oratory. Philip himself remained at S. Girolamo till 1583, and it was only in obedience to Gregory XIII that he then left his old home and came to live at the Vallicella.

The last years of his life were marked by alternate sickness and recovery. In 1593, he showed the truegreatness of one who knows the limits of his own endurance, and resigned the office of superior which had been conferred on him for life. In 1594, when he was in an agony of pain, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and cured him. At the end of March, 1595, he had a severe attack of fever, which lasted throughout April; but in answer to his special prayer God gave him strength to say Mass on 1 May in honour of SS. Philip and James. On the following 12 May he was seized with a violent haemorrhage, and Cardinal Baronius, who had succeeded him as superior, gave him Extreme Unction. After that he seemed to revive a little and his friend Cardinal Frederick Borromeo brought him the Viaticum, which he received with loud protestations of his own unworthiness. On the next day he was perfectly well, and till the actual day of his death went about his usualduties, even reciting the Divine Office, from which he was dispensed. But on 15 May he predicted that he had only ten more days to live. On 25 May, the feast of Corpus Christi, he went to say Mass in his little chapel, two hours earlier than usual. "At the beginning of his Mass", writes Bacci, "he remained for some time looking fixedly at the hill of S. Onofrio, which was visible from the chapel, just as if he saw some great vision. On coming to the Gloria in Excelsis he began to sing, which was an unusual thing for him, and sang the whole of it with the greatest joy and devotion, and all the rest of the Mass he said with extraordinary exultation, and as if singing." He was in perfect health for the rest of that day, and made his usual night prayer; but when in bed, he predicted the hour of the night at which he would die. About an hour after midnight Father Antonio Gallonio, who slept under him, heard him walking up and down, and went to his room. He found him lying on the bed, suffering from another haemorrhage. "Antonio, I am going", he said; Gallonio thereupon fetched themedical men and the fathers of the congregation. Cardinal Baronius made the commendation of his soul, and asked him to give the fathers his final blessing. The saint raised his hand slightly, and looked up to heaven. Then inclining his head towards the fathers, he breathed his last. Philip was beatified by Paul V in 1615, and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622.

It is perhaps by the method of contrast that the distinctive characteristics of St. Philip and his work are brought home to us most forcibly (see Newman, "Sermons on Various Occasions", n. xii; "Historical Sketches", III, end of ch. vii). We hail him as the patient reformer, who leaves outward things alone and works from within, depending rather on the hidden might of sacrament and prayer than on drastic policies of external improvement; the director of souls who attaches more value to mortification of the reason than to bodilyausterities, protests that men may become saints in the world no less than in the cloister, dwells on the importance of serving God in a cheerful spirit, and gives a quaintly humorous turn to the maxims of ascetical theology; the silent watcher of the times, who takes no active part in ecclesiastical controversies and is yet a motive force in their development, now encouraging the use of ecclesiastical history as a bulwark againstProtestantism, now insisting on the absolution of a monarch, whom other counsellors would fain exclude from the sacraments (see BARONIUS), now praying that God may avert a threatened condemnation (see SAVONAROLA) and receiving a miraculous assurance that his prayer is heard (see Letter of Ercolani referred to by Capecelatro); the founder of a Congregation, which relies more on personal influence than on disciplinary organization, and prefers the spontaneous practice of counsels of perfection to their enforcement by means of vows; above all, the saint of God, who is so irresistibly attractive, so eminently lovable in himself, as to win the title of the "Amabile santo".

Sources

GALLONIO, companion of the saint was the first to produce a Life of St. Philip, published in Latin (1600) and in Italian (1601), written with great precision, and following a strictly chronological order. Several medical treatises were written on the saint's palpitation and fractured ribs, e. g. ANGELO DA BAGNAREA's Medica disputatio de palpitatione cordis, fractura costarum, aliisque affectionibus B. Philippi Nerii. . .qua ostenditur praedictas affectiones fuisse supra naturam, dedicated to Card. Frederick Borromeo (Rome, 1613). BACCI wrote an Italian Life and dedicated it to Gregory XV (1622). His work is the outcome of a minute examination of the processes of canonization, and contains important matter not found in GALLONIO. BROCCHI's Life of St. Philip, contained in his Vite de' santi e beati Fiorentini (Florence, 1742), includes the saint's pedigree, and gives the Florentine tradition of his early years; for certain chronological discrepancies between GALLONIO, BACCI, and BROCCHI, see notes on the chronology in ANTROBUS' ed. of BACCI. Other Lives are by RICCI (Rome, 1670), whose work was an enlargement of BACCI, and includes his own Lives of the Companions of St. Philip; MARCIANO (1693); SONZONIO (1727); BERNABEI (d. 1662), whose work is published for the first time by the BOLLANDISTS (Acta SS., May, VII); RAMIREZ, who adapts the language of Scripture to St. Philip in a Latin work called the Via lactea, dedicated to Innocent XI (Valencia, 1682); and BAYLE (1859). GEOTHE at the end of his Italien. Reise (Italian Journey) gives a sketch of the saint, entitled Filippo Neri, der humoristische Heilige. The most important modern Life is that of CAPECELATRO (1879), treating fully of the saint's relations with the persons and events of his time. There is an English Life by HOPE (London, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago). An abridged English translation of BACCI appeared in penal times (Paris, 1656), a fact which shows our Catholic forefathers' continued remembrance of the saint, who used to greet the English College students with the words, "Salvete, flores martyrum." FABER's Modern Saints (1847) includes translations of an enlarged ed. of BACCI, and of RICCI's Lives of the Companions. Of the former there is a new and revised edition by ANTROBUS (London, 1902). CAPECELATRO's work has been translated by POPE (London, 1882). English renderings of two of St. Philip's sonnets by RYDER are published at the end of the recent editions of BACCI and CAPECELATRO, together with translations of St. Philip's letters. These were originally published in BISCONI's Raccolta di lettere di santi e beati Fiorentini (Florence, 1737); but since that time twelve other letters have come to light.

Ritchie, Charles Sebastian. "St. Philip Romolo Neri." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 26 May 2017 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12018b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. For the Reverend David Martin, Priest, of the London Oratory.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.



Corrado Giaquinto. XVIIIe. La Vierge Marie et Saint Philippe de Néri
MAY 26.—ST. PHILIP NERI.

PHILIP was one of the noble line of Saints raised up by God in the sixteenth century to console and bless His Church. After a childhood of angelic beauty, the Holy Spirit drew him away from Florence, the place of his birth, showed him the world, that he might freely renounce it, led him to Rome, modelled him in mind and heart and will, and then, as by a second Pentecost, came down in visible form and filled his soul with light and peace and joy. He would have gone to India, but God reserved him for Rome. There he went on simply from day to day, drawing souls to Jesus, exorcising them in mortification and charity, and binding them together by cheerful devotions; thus, unconsciously to himself, under the hands of Mary, as he said, the Oratory grew up, and all Rome was pervaded and transformed by its spirit. His life was a continuous miracle, his habitual state an ecstasy. He read the hearts of men, foretold their future, knew their eternal destiny. His touch gave health of body; his very look calmed souls in trouble and drove away temptations. He was gay, genial, and irresistibly winning; neither insult nor wrong could dim the brightness of his joy.

Philip lived in an atmosphere of sunshine and gladness which brightened all who came near him. " When I met him in the street," says one, "he would pat my cheek and say, ' Well, how is Don Pellegrino ?' and leave me so full of joy that I could not tell which way I was going." Others said that when he playfully pulled their hair or their ears, their hearts would bound with joy. Marcio Altieri felt such overflowing gladness in his presence that he said Philip's room was a paradise on earth. Fabrizio de Massimi would go in sadness or perplexity and stand at Philip's door; he said it was enough to see him, to be near him. And long after his death, it was enough for many, when troubled, to go into his room, to find their hearts lightened and gladdened. He inspired a boundless confidence and love, and was the common refuge and consoler of all. A gentle jest would convey his rebukes and veil his miracles. The highest honors sought him out, but he put them from him. He died in his eightieth year, A.D. 1595, and bears the grand title of Apostle of Rome.

REFLECTION.--Philip wished his children to serve God, like the first Christians, in gladness of heart. He said this was the true filial spirit ; this expands the soul, giving it liberty and perfection in action, power over temptations, and fuller aid to perseverance.

INTERCESSORY PRAYER -- If you have a specific spiritual need or know someone who is ill and in need of healing, ask Saint Philip to obtain help for you from God.

SOURCE : http://jesus-passion.com/Saint_Philip.htm


Saint Philip Neri


St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) is known as the Apostle of Rome. With his distinctly joyous and personal manner, he was one of the influential figures of the Catholic Reformation. His special contribution was the creation of the Congregation of the Oratory.
Philip Neri was born in Florence on July 21, 1515, the son of a lawyer. As a boy, Philip befriended the Dominicans at the convent of S. Marco. In 1532 or 1533 he went to San Germano (Cassino) to learn business under the tutelage of an uncle, but, repelled by commercial affairs and feeling a pronounced desire for a life of close union with God, he left San Germano after a few months and went to Rome. There he studied philosophy and theology at Sapienza University and Sant’Agostino. He made friends easily and met regularly with some of them at the church of S. Girolamo della Carità for discussion, prayer, and the reception of Holy Communion. S. Girolamo became his home for 32 years. On May 23, 1551, after 18 years in Rome, Philip was ordained a priest. His room, the center for the intimate and prayerful meetings, became known about 1554 as the “Oratory.”
Philip, who dreaded formalism and loved spontaneity, gave his little groups a definite character. Scripture readings, short commentaries, brief prayers, and hymns were the usual program. Giovanni Palestrina wrote much of the musical setting for the scriptural texts, the motets, and the laudi spirituali, which gave rise to the term “oratorio.” This kind of apostolate suffered under the stern pontificates of Paul IV and Pius V. But Philip numbered among his friends some of the great saints of the age: Charles Borromeo, Francis de Sales, Felix of Cantalice, Camillus de Lellis, and Ignatius of Loyola. As more priests became his followers, Philip, who did not wish a tightly organized group united by religious vows, created a congregation of secular priests living in community. In 1575 Pope Gregory XIII approved the Congregation of the Oratory.
Philip’s famous walks especially won him the title Apostle of Rome. Surrounded by a laughing and joking group, he penetrated all corners of the city, radiating gaiety by his simple friendship and playful wit. Beneath his external life were the deep foundations of an intense spirit of prayer and love for the priestly offices of hearing confessions and offering the Mass. For hours at a time, he received an abundance of unusual supernatural gifts when he was wrapped in ecstasy. In 1575 S. Maria in. Vallicella became the Oratorians’ church. Philip moved there in 1583, and there he died on May 26, 1595.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/philip-neri/


Philip Neri, Founder (RM)

Born in Florence, Italy, July 22, 1515; died in Rome, May 26, 1595; canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.



"A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than one that is cast down." --Saint Philip Neri.
Saint Philip, son of Francis Neri, a notary, is one of the most lovable of the saints. Some people find great inspiration in the more popular saints, like Francis of Assisi, but I love this prankster who shows me that to be holy does not necessarily mean to be dour. Of all the saints, Philip Neri was one of the happiest and most original. Everyone loved him and consulted him. Nature had endowed him with a rich and cheerful temperament and he always saw the best side of things. He loved music and poetry and was a skilled amateur psychologist.

His mother died when he was young, but his father, a Florentine notary, remarried and the stepmother was good to the children. Even during his happy childhood he possessed a free and enquiring mind and a pure and eager spirit. There was nothing good in this world that lay outside his interest, and his life was spent in pursuit of truth and virtue.

Indeed, the world to him with all it offered of interest and wonder was a foretaste of eternal happiness, and he could never be too grateful to God for His goodness. His cup, he said, was full and running over, and goodness and mercy followed him all his days. "Enough, Lord, enough," he cried, out of sheer exuberance of his spirit. "Hold back, I implore, the floods of Your grace." And again, "I am but a mortal, I cannot bear so much joy!"

Philip was educated by and came under the influence of the Dominicans at San Marco, where Savonarola had been a friar within living memory. At 18, he was sent to San Germano, to a relative who it was hoped would pass on his prosperous business to Philip. There he worked as an assistant to a merchant at the foot of Monte Cassino. Soon after his arrival, however, he had a mystical experience that caused his conversion, and from then on he was indifferent to material things.

In 1533, he went to Rome, departing without money. He sought shelter there with Galeotto Caccia, a customs official, whose sons he tutored. He lived like a monk in the attic room for two years, praying for whole days and nights. He then began taking philosophy and theology at the Sapienza and at Sant'Agostino, and he studied for three years, while unobtrusively rendering service to his neighbors.
He then abruptly abandoned his studies, sold most of his books, and began to preach on the streets and in the markets to Romans, whose religious fervor had grown lukewarm; the city was corrupt and the Church reflected the current malaise of secular society. During his street-corner preaching, he engaged in conversations with all ranks of people and influenced many to work with the sick in hospitals and to visit the Seven Churches.

He spent much time in prayer, especially at night in the catacomb of Saint Sebastian on the Appian Way. In 1544, he experienced a vision there in which a globe of fire entered his mouth and dilated his heart; permanent physical effects of this experience were said to be found after his death.

With his confessor, Father Persiano Rossa, he founded in 1548, the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity with 14 poor laymen who met for spiritual exercises in the Church of San Salvatore in Campo. The group popularized the devotion of the Forty Hours in Rome and looked after needy pilgrims. This work eventually evolved into the hospital of Santa Trinita dei Pellegrini, which in the jubilee year of 1575 cared for 145,000 pilgrims.

Philip was ordained in 1551 at the insistence of one of his friends. He went to live with Father Rossa at San Girolamo della Carita, where he worked primarily as a confessor to even the highest dignitaries of the Church. He was a witty and shrewd man, and aided by a gift for reading consciences, he converted many. He apparently delighted in practical jokes but was always very gentle.

On one occasion, when a woman confessed to him her love of gossip and spreading slander and scandal and asked him how she could cure herself of the habit, he replied: "Go to the nearest market-place, buy a chicken just killed, and pluck its feathers all the way as you come back to me." Greatly astonished, she did what he asked, and returned to him with the plucked chicken. "Now go back," he said, "and bring me all the feathers you have scattered." "But I cannot," she replied, "that is impossible. I cast the feathers carelessly and the wind carried them away. How can I recover them?" He answered: "You cannot. And that is exactly like your words of scandal. They have been carried about in every direction. You cannot recall them. Go and slander no more."

The saint considered going on a foreign mission, but a Benedictine of Saint Paul's convinced him that his apostolate was in Rome. He is said to have experienced ecstasies so often while saying Mass that his servers sometimes left the church for a couple of hours and returned to continue serving after he had recovered.

A room was built over the nave of San Girolamo for the people who attended his informal spiritual conferences. Here also he organized enterprises for the relief of the sick and needy. He and his priest followers grew to be called Oratorians, because they rang a little bell to summon attendees to the gatherings. The music called "oratorio" was named for the Oratorians, because they used music in their services based on biblical or other religious themes, sung by solo voices and a chorus.

During Saint Philip's lifetime, he and his Oratory became a center of religious life in the city, and he became the most popular figure in Rome. He would later be called "the Second Apostle of Rome." In 1564, Philip became rector of San Giovanni Church at the direction of which had been given to him by his fellow Florentines in Rome. There he installed five of his young, ordained disciples, including Cesare Baronius, the historian. They were to share a common table and common worship.

Philip drew up a simple rule of life, but he forbade them to bind themselves by vows or to give up their property. The congregation grew and in 1575 received approval from Pope Gregory XIII. The pope gave them the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella. Philip wished to rebuild the ancient church. Contributions flowed in for this work--including donations from Charles Borromeo and the pope. In 1577, the Congregation of the Oratory was transferred to the new church, the Chiesa Nuova.

Philip remained in San Girolamo, having grown attached to his rooms, and did not move to the new location until 1583 or 1584, when he did so according to the wish of the pope. By this time he was known as "the Apostle of Rome" and was venerated by popes, cardinals, rulers, and ordinary people. Although he made himself available to his followers, he continued to live and eat alone. He was consulted by the rich and poor, powerful and helpless for his spiritual wisdom. He was credited with performing miracles and had the gift of prophecy.

But Saint Philip did not escape criticism and opposition: Some were shocked by the unconventionality of his speech and actions and of his missionary methods. He sought to restore healthy and vigorous life among the Roman Christians quietly, working from within. He was not clerically-minded--the path of perfection was for lay people as well as for clergy and religious. He preached more about love and spiritual integrity than about physical austerity.

The virtues that shone in him were impressed upon others: love of God and man, humility and sense of proportion, gentleness and gaiety--'laughter' is a word of frequent occurrence where Saint Philip Neri is concerned. Like Saint Thomas More, he is notably marked by that cheerfulness that is supposed to distinguish every saint, but which is more apparent in some than in others.

In 1593, he averted a conflict between France and the Holy See by influencing the decision to absolve the former Protestant Henry IV of Navarre. That same year he resigned as superior because of ill health. He died of hemorrhage, his last act being to raise his hand to bless his followers. He was buried in the Chiesa Nuova (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Gill, Poncelle, Trevor, White).

In art, Saint Philip is an Oratorian priest with a rosary. Sometimes the Virgin Mary appears to him (Roeder). He is often in red carrying a lily or with lilies around him (White).



St. Philip Neri, Confessor

From his life, written in 1601, by F. Antony Galloni, one of the most intimate and learned of his disciples, five years after his death; and again by James Baccius, printed at Rome in 1645. See his new life collected from several other authentic memoirs, printed at Venice in 1727. Sen also certain corrections of this saint’s history, published at Florence in 1761 by Dominic Maria Manni, member of the academy of Apatists, and Papebroke, t. 6, Maij, p. 461.

A.D. 1595

PERFECT charity, which distinguishes all the saints, rendered this great servant of God a bright star in the church in these later ages. He was born at Florence in 1515, and was son of Francis Neri, a lawyer, and Lucretia Soldi, both descended of wealthy Tuscan families. From five years of age he was never known in the least tittle wilfully to transgress the will of his parents. Once, indeed, a sister disturbing him on purpose whilst he was reciting the psalter with another sister, he gently pushed her away; for which action his father chid him; and this he bewailed with many tears as a great fault. He was very patient in sickness, and so mild that he seemed not to know what anger was. When he was only eleven years old he visited the churches very much, and prayed and heard the word of God with singular devotion. Such was his piety, his reverence, and respect to superiors, and his humility, sweetness and affability to all, that he was exceedingly beloved, and was commonly called good Philip. Having finished his grammar studies when he was eighteen years of age, he was sent by his father to an uncle, (who lived near Mount Cassino, and was very rich by traffic,) not to learn his business, but to be his heir. But Philip feeling in his soul ardent desires perfectly to follow Jesus Christ, and fearing the dangers of dissipation and of entangling his soul in the world, soon left his uncle, and went to Rome in 1533. There being taken into the house of Galleotto Caccia, a Florentine nobleman, in quality of preceptor to his children, he led so edifying a life, that the reputation of his sanctity was spread very wide, and reached Florence. Ordinarily he ate only once a day, and he could hardly be brought to add to bread and water, a few olives and a small quantity of herbs. He spent much time retired in a little chamber, passing sometimes whole nights in prayer; in which exercise he was favoured with abundant spiritual delights. His pupils made an admirable progress, under his care, both in virtue and learning; and in the mean time he studied philosophy and divinity in such a manner as to distinguish himself in the schools. Everybody sought his acquaintance, but in this particular he was very cautious and reserved for fear of falling into bad company, or at least of losing any part of his precious time. It is the observation of a modern philosopher, that one quarter of an hour a day given to superfluous and unprofitable conversation, amounts to a very considerable part of the longest life, in which the necessities of age and nature make always large abatements, and reduce action to a short span, in which we are to lay in provisions for eternity. This reflection made the saint extremely solicitous to husband well all his moments. Philip gave to his neighbour only that time which duty, mutual edification, and charity required.

He was moreover sensible that even saints complain that they return from company less fit for prayer, and seldom without some wounds in their soul; and that the idle conversation of the world always blows upon our hearts that contagious air of vanity, pride, and love of pleasure which it breathes; and which is always so much the more dangerous, as its poison is the more secret. Notwithstanding his precautions, the devil found means to play upon him his wicked agents. Certain lewd young men made an assault upon his chastity by impudent discourse; but he spoke to them with so much piety and strength that he softened their hardened hearts into compunction, and converted them to God. Against temptations he armed himself by prayer, fasting, and humility; yet he sometimes felt assaults or buffets of the flesh till fifty years of age; but for the thirty last years of his life was as free from all rebellion of that domestic enemy as if he had been without a body, as he declared to Cardinal Baronius; pouring forth at the same time a torrent of tears for his sloth and ingratitude in making no return to God, as he said, for the grace by which he had always preserved his virginity spotless in mind and body. He practised a universal mortification of his senses, often even in the smallest things; saying, that frequent self-denial in little things is necessary for us, that we may conquer in greater conflicts. To such a degree did he carry his love of holy poverty, that when he came first to Rome he would accept of nothing from his fond father but two or three shirts; and he kept nothing in his little room but a poor bed, a few books, and a little linen, which hung upon a cord against the wall. To all kinds of pastime he was an utter stranger, contriving to find necessary relaxation and exercise in works of charity and devotion, as in going from one church to another, and visiting hospitals. Even during the course of his studies he gave a great deal of his time to prayer, and every day visited all, or at least some of the seven churches appointed to be visited by pilgrims, which were several miles asunder, and some of them without the city. 1 He often spent the whole night in prayer before the door of some private church, and especially over the relics of the martyrs in the cemetery of Calixtus; often, when overpowered by sleep, he took a little rest on the ground in a porch of one of the seven churches. Whilst he was yet a young student in philosophy, he never called to mind the sufferings of Christ, or reflected on the sins and ingratitude of men, or cast his eyes upon a crucifix without melting into tears. After he completed the course of his theology, he took some time for the study of the holy scriptures, and of the fathers, the two sources and eyes of that science. The canons and laws of the church, containing the precepts and admonitions of her pastors and councils, are a necessary and excellent rule for the direction of manners among Christians; and a skill in some parts of the canon law is very requisite in a pastor of souls. St. Philip therefore made the study of the canon law a part of his care; and became in a short time an oracle in all sacred studies, to whom many learned professors resorted for advice in their difficulties. The saint always recommended and promoted exceedingly these studies among his disciples; and to encourage them, he afterwards commanded his pious and learned scholar Cæsar Baronius, 2 who had entered the oratory of St. Philip at eighteen years of age, to compile his annals of the Church; in the beginning of which work he was to him a great assistance, and a daily spur, as Baronius acknowledges, 3 who calls him the first author and original contriver of his annals.

St. Philip was one of the best scholars of the age; but being desirous to approach nearer and nearer to Jesus Christ, whose sweet attractions he continually felt in his soul, at twenty-three years of age he sold even his books for the relief of the poor. Often in prayer he was so overwhelmed with spiritual joy and sweetness as not to be able to stand. Sometimes he was heard as he lay prostrate on the ground to cry out: “Enough, O Lord, enough; withhold a little at present, I beseech you, the torrent of your sweetness.” And another time: “Depart from me, O Lord; depart from me. I am yet a mortal man, and am not able to bear such an abundance of celestial joy. Behold I die my dear Lord, unless you succour me.” He used often to say: “O God, seeing you are so infinitely amiable, why have you given us but one heart to love you, and this so little and so narrow?” It is believed that if God had not, on such occasions, abated or withdrawn his consolations, he must have died through excess of joy, as he himself averred. Humility made him most industrious to conceal his knowledge or science, and much more the extraordinary gifts of grace; for he in all things sought his own contempt. Had not his heart been perfectly empty of itself, the divine love could never have found room in it to overflow in such abundance. So impetuous and so sensible was this love in his breast that it frequently discovered itself in a wonderful manner in his countenance and in the violent palpitations of his heart; for, as St. Francis of Sales shows in his book of the love of God, and as experience convinces, violent affections of the mind produce strange effects on the body. 4 Galloni testifies that the divine love so much dilated the breast of our saint in an extraordinary rapture, that the gristle which joined the fourth and fifth ribs on the left side was broken; which accident allowed the heart and the larger vessels more play; in which condition he lived fifty years. In the midst of a great city, he led for some years almost the life of a hermit. For a long time he ate only bread with a few olives, herbs, or an apple, drank only water, and lay on the bare floor. His earnest desire of loving God more perfectly, by being united to him in glory, made him languish continually after that blessed hour when his soul should be freed from the prison of his body, and taking her flight to its origin and centre, should drown itself in the ocean of all good. He was wont to say, that to one who truly loveth God nothing can happen more grievous than delays of his enjoyment, and than life itself. But then the will of God, and the love of penance and suffering made this delay itself a subject of comfort, in which he also rejoiced with St. Paul, 5 inasmuch as by living on earth he was able still to labour in bringing souls to God.

His insatiable zeal for the salvation of others drew him often to the Exchange and other public places in the city, to seek opportunities of gaining some soul to God, or at least of preventing some sin; in which he did wonders, and whilst yet a layman quite changed the face of several public places. He often visited the hospitals, there to comfort, exhort, and serve the sick. He lamented to see the custom of waiting on poor sick persons disused in the world; a practice extremely conducive to inspire sentiments of humility and charity. He, therefore, desired very much to revive it, and with that view commenced the confraternity of the Blessed Trinity in Rome, with the assistance of his confessarius, who was a very holy priest named Persiano Rosa. He laid the first foundation of this pious establishment with fourteen companions, in 1548, in the church of our Saviour Del-Campo. He settled the most admirable economy and good order for receiving, serving, and instructing the sick and pilgrims. In this place St. Philip made pious discourses, and held conferences several times every day, and often till late at night, by which he reclaimed great numbers from vice, and conducted many to an eminent perfection. In the year of the jubilee, 1550, he translated this confraternity to the church of the Holy Trinity, and erected a new hospital under the name of the Blessed Trinity, which to this day subsists in the most flourishing condition, and is one of the best regulated hospitals in the world. Several cardinals and princes come thither out of devotion in the evenings, to wash the feet, and to serve with their own hands the pilgrims, and especially the sick. Sometimes six hundred waiters on an evening are assembled together to perform this act of humility. The ladies wait on the female patients in another hospital. St. Philip, not content with the care of hospitals, laid himself out in relieving the distressed in all parts of the city. It happened that as he was carrying an alms in a stormy night for secrecy, he fell into a deep ditch; but was preserved by God from receiving any hurt.

Humility made the saint sometimes think of devoting himself to the service of God in a laical state. But being desirous to employ his labours in the best manner he could in the care of souls, he deliberated with himself what state to choose for this end. On this occasion he was not only persuaded, but most urgently pressed and compelled by his confessor Rosa, to enter into holy orders. After a long preparation, he was ordained priest in June 1551, being thirty-six years old almost complete. From which time he chose his dwelling in a small community, at the church of St. Jerom, where Rosa and certain other very virtuous priests lived. Every one ate by himself, and fasted according to his strength and devotion. Here Philip mitigated the austerities of his former life, and allowed himself a slender breakfast in the morning; and for his supper a couple of eggs, or a mess of broth, or a few herbs or beans; he seldom ate any flesh, and rarely fish. But when he ate abroad, which was very seldom, he took what was set before him, to avoid singularity; but never touched more than one thing; and seemed to eat without any relish for his food. He lived in a little unfurnished room, attending only to his devotions and to the winning of souls to God. In saying his first mass he was so overpowered with spiritual consolations, that on account of the shaking of his hands and whole body, he was scarcely able to pour the wine and water into the chalice; and this continued during the rest of the sacrifice, especially at the elevation and communion, and he was often obliged to lean on the altar, being otherwise in danger of falling down. He said mass every day, unless hindered by some grievous sickness; and then he always received the holy communion. He often fell into raptures at the altar, particularly after communicating, also after mass. On this account, he was sometimes two hours in saying mass; for which reason, towards the end of his life, he performed that function privately in a domestic chapel. The delight he found in receiving the holy sacrament is inexpressible. The very remembrance of that divine banquet, when he took an empty chalice into his hand, made him melt in tender sentiments of love. Galloni mentions several extraordinary raptures with which the saint was favoured in prayer, and testifies that his body was sometimes seen raised from the ground during his devotions some yards high, 6 at which time his countenance appeared shining with a bright light. 7

St. Philip was not less eminent in zeal for the divine honour and in charity for men, than in the gifts of contemplation. Soon after he had received the priesthood, he was ordered by his superiors and confessarius to hear confessions, for which function he was by a long preparation excellently qualified. And so great was his desire of gaining souls to God, that he was never weary of this employment; though beginning early in the morning, he often spent in it almost the whole day. Even after mass, when called to this duty, he contented himself with a short thanksgiving, and went immediately to attend this office of charity, preferring the comfort of others to his own most favourite time of devotion. Nor is it credible how many souls he drew out of the mire of sin, and moved to embrace a life of singular perfection. Charity taught him innumerable devices to win the most hardened. The sight of a Jew, who happened one day to speak to him, pierced him with so deep a sentiment of compassion for his soul that for three whole weeks he never ceased weeping and praying for him till he saw him baptized. By displaying the terrors of death and the divine judgments, he softened the most obdurate sinners if they once listened to him. Those who shunned him for fear of the remedy of their spiritual diseases, he often gained by addressing himself to God in their behalf in fervent prayers. One he converted by desiring him to say seven times every day the Salve Regina, kissing the ground in the end, and adding these words: To-morrow I may be among the dead. Those who were engaged in criminal habits, he cured by enjoining them every evening, with some prayer, a short reflection on death, or a short representation to themselves of a soul in hell, and an imaginary entertainment or dialogue with her on her state, on eternity, the emptiness and extravagance of sin, and the like; or such a representation of a person dying, or of a carcass laid in the grave. He had an excellent talent for exciting penitents to compunction, and in inspiring them with a sovereign abhorrence of all sin; also with assisting them to discover the occasions and sources of sin, and to cut them off. In this consists very much the fruit of repentance; the occasions and approaches of the evil must be retrenched; the cancer must be entirely extirpated with every string of its root; the least fibre left behind will push forth again, and with more vigour than before. Here the penitent must not spare himself, whatever it costs him; though he part with an eye or a foot. It is by the neglect of this precaution that so many conversions are false and counterfeit; and that relapses are so frequent. Our skilful director was careful to lay the axe to the root; and not content to draw souls out of Sodom, he obliged them to quit the neighbourhood, and fly to the mountains, to the greatest distance from the danger. With this precaution, the other remedies which he applied all produced their desired effect. The saint, by the lights which the purity of his affections and his spirit of prayer were the means of obtaining, and by his learning and singular experience in the paths of virtue, conducted fervent souls in the maxims of heroic perfection. He sometimes miraculously penetrated the secrets of the hearts of others; and in particular knew hidden sins of impurity by the stench which such sinners exhaled, as several testified after his death. To one he said, that “he perceived such a horrid stench to come from the person infected with this filthy vice, that he never found anything so noisome.” To some who had criminally concealed such sins in confession, he said: “To me you cast forth an ill savour; you are fallen into such a sin of impurity; cast out the poison by confession.” His thirst for the salvation of souls made him earnestly desire to go to the Indies; but he was dissuaded by those whom he consulted, who told him that Rome was his Indies; a large field for all his zeal and labour, which would furnish him with an ample harvest.

The saint received all who resorted to him in his chamber, and was wont to instruct them by daily conferences, with incredible unction and fruit. Evil eyes could not bear so great a light; and certain envious and malicious persons derided his devotion at mass, and his other actions, and by the most contumelious discourses, and outrageous slanders insulted his person, and blackened his reputation; all which he bore with meekness and silence, never once opening his mouth in his own defence, or complaining of any one, but rejoicing to see himself meet with scorn and contempt. Often when he was reviled he exulted with joy. One of these slanderers was so moved by seeing the cheerfulness of the saint’s countenance, and his invincible patience, whilst another cursed and reproached him in the most bitter terms, that he was converted upon the spot, undertook the defence of the servant of God, and entered upon a penitential and edifying course of life. The author of all these injuries and affronts, moved also at the saint’s patience and mildness, of his own accord came to him, and upon his knees begged his pardon, which St. Philip willingly granted him; and most kindly embracing him, received him into the number of his children. The man of God said, that if we ask of God patience and humility, we ought to rejoice and thank him when he sendeth us occasions of exercising those virtues, which are not to be obtained but by crosses and frequent acts of them. Another time, when he had opened his oratory, certain persons accused him of pride and ambition, and that he loved and affected to be followed by the people. Upon which complaints the vicar of Rome gave him a sharp reprimand, forbade him to hear confessions for fifteen days, and to preach without a new license: he moreover threatened him with imprisonment, if he did not leave his new ways of proceeding. The saint modestly answered, that he was most ready to obey his superiors in whatever they should command him. He excused the authors of his troubles in the best manner he was able, and with cheerfulness said to his friends, that God had permitted him to be so treated that he might become humble. By his patience and modesty this storm blew over, and after an inquiry into his conduct, leave was given him to live after his wonted manner, and to draw sinners to God by such means as his prudence should suggest. After which, his chamber began to be frequented by many of the prime nobility, to the singular profit of their souls. His charity for all seemed to have no bounds; but when he did but look on notorious wicked men, he could hardly contain the abundance of tears which compassion moved him to shed.

Desiring by all means in his power to help his neighbour, he by his conferences laid the foundation of the Congregation of Oratorians in 1551. Several priests and young ecclesiastics associating themselves with him, began to assist him in his conferences, and in reading prayers and meditations to the people in the church of the Holy Trinity. They were called Oratorians, because at certain hours every morning and afternoon, by ringing a bell, they called the people to the church to prayers and meditations. In 1564, when the saint had formed his congregation into a regular community, he preferred several of his young ecclesiastics to holy orders; one of whom was the famous Cæsar Baronius, whom for his eminent sanctity Benedict XIV. by a decree dated on the 12th of January, 1745, honoured with the title of Venerable Servant of God. At the same time he formed his disciples into a community, using one common purse and table, and he gave them rules and statutes. He forbade any of them to bind themselves to this state by vow or oath, that all might live together joined only by the bands of fervour and holy charity; labouring with all their strength to establish the kingdom of Christ in themselves by the most perfect sanctification of their own souls, and to propagate the same in the souls of others, by preaching, instructing the ignorant, and teaching the Christian doctrine. The general he appointed to be triennial; but was himself, much against his will, chosen general for life, though he afterwards found means to obtain a release from that burden, by alleging his age and infirmities. This happened in 1595, when Baronius was chosen his successor, though that great man left nothing unattempted to remove the burden from his shoulders. 8

St. Philip, who dated the foundation of his oratory in 1564, obtained of Pope Gregory XIII. the approbation of his congregation in 1575. Its constitutions were afterwards confirmed by Paul V. in 1612. The same Gregory XIII. bestowed on the saint the church of our Lady of Vallicella, which was newly built in a finished taste by exquisite architects, whence it is called the New Church. St. Philip took possession of it in 1583; but his congregation still continues to serve also the hospital of pilgrims of the Holy Trinity. The saint lived to see many houses of his Oratory erected at Florence, Naples, San Severino, Anxur, Lucca, Firmo, Panormo, Fano, Padua, Vicenza, Ferrara, Thonon, &c. 9 He established among his followers the rule of obedience, and a total abnegation of their own will, saying: “This is the shortest and most assured way to attain to perfection.” He was so great a lover of poverty, that he earnestly desired always to live destitute of worldly goods, and in a suffering state of indigence. He strictly ordained that none of his congregation should have to do with the purse of their penitents, saying: “It is impossible to gain both their souls and their goods.” This holy man lived equally reverenced and beloved by the Popes Pius IV. and V., Gregory XIII. and XIV., and Clement VIII., and by other great men, particularly by St. Charles Borromeo. Among other miracles, when he himself lay sick of a fever and his life seemed despaired of, he was suddenly restored to health by a vision of the Blessed Virgin, in which he fell into a wonderful rapture, and cried out, “O most holy Mother of God, what have I done that you should vouchsafe to come to me?” Coming to himself, he said unawares to four physicians that were present: “Did not you see the Blessed Mother of God, who by her visit hath driven away my distemper?” But immediately perceiving that he had discovered his vision, he besought them not to disclose it to any one. This was attested upon oath by Galloni and four physicians who were present. Under the sharpest pains in his sickness, no complaint, groan, or stir, ever was observed in him; only he was sometimes heard softly to repeat these words: Adauge dolorem, sed adauge patientiam, increase my pains, but increase withal my patience. On several occasions he exactly foretold things to come. Baronius and others testified that they had heard several predictions from his mouth which the events always confirmed.

St. Philip was of a sickly constitution, and was usually visited every year by one or two sharp fevers, which sometimes held him a long time; yet he lived to a good old age. In 1595 he lay all the month of April sick of a very violent fever; and in the beginning of May was taken with a vomiting of blood, discharging a very large quantity. Cæsar Baronius gave him extreme unction; and when the hæmorrhage had ceased, Cardinal Frederick Borromeo brought him the viaticum. When the saint saw the cardinal entering his chamber with the holy sacrament, to the amazement of all who were present, he cried out with a loud voice and abundance of tears: “Behold my Love, my Love! He comes, the only delight of my soul. Give me my Love quickly.” He repeated with the cardinal in the most tender sentiments of devotion and love those words, Domine non sum dignus, adding, “I was never worthy to be fed with thy body; nor have I ever done any good at all.” After receiving the viaticum, he said: “I have received my physician into my lodging.” He had procured many masses to be said for him, and in two or three days seemed perfectly recovered, said mass every day, heard confessions as usual, and enjoyed a good state of health. He foretold to several persons, and frequently, his approaching death, and the very day of it, as they declared upon oath. 10 On the three last days of his life, he was overwhelmed with more than ordinary spiritual love, especially on the day that he died, on which he counted every hour, waiting for the end of the day, which he foresaw to be the moment in which his soul would ingulf itself into the ocean of immortal bliss. Being taken with another fit of vomiting blood whilst Baronius was reading the recommendation of the soul, he with great tranquillity expired just after midnight, between the 25th and 26th of May, 1595, being near fourscore and two years old. His body was opened, and the place where his ribs were burst, and the skin projected to the bigness of a man’s fist, was seen by many. His heart and bowels were buried among his brethren, but his body was enshrined, and found uncorrupted seven years after. One Austin Magistrius, who for many years had been troubled with loathsome running ulcers in his neck, which physicians had judged incurable, hearing of the death of the saint, went to the church where his body was exposed; and after praying long before his hearse, applied his blessed hands to his sore neck and found himself immediately cured, which miracle five eye-witnesses attested upon oath. Other like miracles, several testified by the oaths of the parties, are related by Galloni the disciple of the saint, and an assistant of Baronius in compiling his annals; also by Baccius and others. Seven years after the saint’s death, in 1602, Nerus de Nigris, a Florentine gentleman, built a sumptuous chapel beautified with costly ornaments in the Church of the Oratory, and the holy man’s body, which was found entire, was removed into it. Many miracles were wrought at his tomb, and by his intercession. 11 He was canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622.

St. Philip, inflamed with the love of God and a desire of praising him worthily, after offering him all the affections of his soul, and the homages of all his creatures, seeing in their poverty and inability nothing equal to his infinite greatness, comforted himself in finding in the mass a means of glorifying him by a victim worthy of himself. This he offered to him with inexpressible joy, devotion, and humility, to praise and honour his holy name, to be a sacrifice of perfect thanksgiving for his infinite benefits, of expiation for sin, and of impetration to obtain all graces. Hence in this sacrifice he satiated the ardent desires of his zeal, and found such an excess of overflowing love and sweetness in the closest union of his soul with his divine Redeemer.

Note 1. These seven churches are the Vatican and Lateran Basilics, St. Mary Major, and that of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, situated on the different sides of the city: St. Laurence’s extra muros, two miles out of the city on the Tiburtin road, St. Paul’s on the Ostian road, five miles from the old Forum, now called Campo Vaccino, and St. Sebastian’s on the Appian road. These churches are all enriched with relics of the most celebrated martyrs, &c. [back]

Note 2. Baronius was afterwards created cardinal in 1596, by Clement VIII. and died in 1607. Notwithstanding some mistakes in history unavoidable in first essays of that nature, all must applaud his undertaking, and admire both the work, and the great erudition, and immense application and labour of this parent of the annals of Church history. [back]

Note 3. Annal. t. 8, præf. [back]

Note 4. These effects the natural economy of the human body explains, though the cause be obscure, depending on the unknown laws of the union of the soul and body. As anger, and much more hatred and grief, contract the human vessels, make the motion of the fluids languid and sluggish, and create obstructions in the glands which are the seeds of various distempers; so joyful hope, (the most healthful temper of mind,) joy, and divine love, which is always regular, dilate the heart and vessels, accelerate the motion of the fluids, increase the spirits, and exceedingly promote a good habit of body, which envy, jealousy, inordinate fear, and the like affections very much disturb. See Cheyne, Boerhaave, Heister. [back]

Note 5. Phil. ii. 24. [back]

Note 6. Galloni, vit. c. 20. [back]

Note 7. We find the same authentically attested of many other servants of God. St. Ignatius of Loyola was sometimes seen raised in prayer two feet above the ground, his body at the same time shining with light. The like elevations are related in the lives of St. Dominick, St. Dunstan, St. Philip Beniti, St. Cajetan, St. Albert of Sicily, B. Bernard Ptolomæi, institutor of the Congregation of our Lady of Mount Olivet, Aug. xxi., B. Robert of Palentin, Aug. xviii. &c. in the Bollandists of St. Francis of Assisium in his life by Chalippe and others. Many of the authors of these lives, persons of undoubted veracity, testify that they were themselves eye-witnesses of this fact; others were so careful and diligent writers, that their authority cannot be questioned. Thus Trivet tells us, that St. Richard, then chancellor to St. Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, one day opening softly the chapel door, saw his archbishop raised high in the air, with his knees bent, and his arms stretched out; but falling gently to the ground, and seeing his chancellor, he complained to him that he had hindered him of great spiritual delights and comfort. Trivet, Annal. p. 73, ad ann. 1240. Dom. Calmet, an author still living, and a severe and learned critic, assures us that he knows a religious man, who, in devout prayer, is sometimes involuntarily raised in the air, and remains hanging in it without any support. Also that he is personally acquainted with a devout nun to whom the same had often happened. Calmet, Diss. sur les Apparitions, chap. 21. See the life of St. Teresa, written by herself, how notwithstanding her resistance, her body sometimes was raised from the ground. Whether these persons and others to whom the like may have happened were raised by the invisible ministry of angels, or by any supernatural operation immediately derived from God, is uncertain, and probably what they themselves could not determine, any more than St. Paul could perceive whether he was carried up into heaven in his body or out of his body.

  It is objected to these miracles, that Eunapius, a Platonic philosopher who in 380 wrote the lives of Porphyrius and Jamblichus, relates that the latter was often raised ten cubits into the air, and was seen surrounded with a bright light. But this historian in credulity and malice against the Christians surpassed Porphyrius and Jamblichus themselves; and his testimony in relating such idle dreams can have no weight with any serious reader. By the pretended rapture of Jamblichus, it was his aim to forge a prodigy which might seem to rival the Transfiguration of Christ, and probably the favours granted to several saints, like this related of St. Philip. We must observe that those heathen Platonic philosophers, who in the first age of the gospel laid claim to Theurgy or a magic power, never attempted to perform any miracle in a public authentic manner: their historians were remote in time, produce no sufficient vouchers in confirmation of the prodigies they relate, and overset themselves by the ridiculous absurdity of their histories, and their inconsistencies both with themselves and with the most certain monuments of those ages. It was only with a view to discredit the incontestible miracles, which proved our holy religion to be the work of God, that they had recourse to imposture, and to the illusions of magic. For this Porphyrius of Tyre, in 270, laid down pretended rules of divination; and his scholar Jamblichus above mentioned, in Syria, under Constantine the Great, published a book Of Mysteries, which is only a heap of enthusiasm and abominable folly concerning the miraculous effects of the Theurgy, and the purification of the soul, till by a transformation it is united to the celestial powers. Both these impostors seriously relate of Pythagoras, that he was saluted by rivers, and that he could remember all the several bodies his soul had animated, and how he had been a tree, a girl, a fish, and that very Euphorbus the Trojan, who was slain by Menelaus; with many other tales still more ridiculous, unknown to Diogenas, Laërtius, or any former writer, above eight hundred years from the death of Pythagoras. Philostratus, under the Emperor Severus, in 206, another of the same class, wrote the life of Apollonius Tyanæus, above one hundred years after his death, containing an account of his pretended prodigies.

  But the view of all these writers was only to oppose such forgeries to the true and evident miracles of Christ and his followers, the reality of which they were not able to contest. And such are the inconsistency and absurdity of their vague idle stories, that to rank them with the fables of Ovid’s Metamorphoses would be doing them too much honour. How unjust is it to put the most authentic Christian miracles upon a level with such ridiculous forgeries! These their pretensions far from weakening, serve to corroborate the evidence for the Christian miracles, inasmuch as by them it appears to what wretched shifts the most ingenious, the most implacable, and the most learned adversaries of our religion were driven. Certainly the reality and evidence of our miracles left no room for cavil, seeing philosophers of the greatest penetration, abilities, and power could find no other expedient to gratify their inveterate malice against us, than by pretending to rival our miracles by the grossest forgeries. It is, however, no way unreasonable to allow that Apollonius Tyanæus and some others might, by the divine permission, effect certain wonderful things, as Tillemont and Fleury seem not unwilling to grant; though the authority of the vouchers is by no means cogent. The empire of the devil, though much restrained from the time of the death of Christ to the coming of Antichrist, which is implied by his being said to be bound, (Rev.
xx. 2, 3,) is not so far abridged that he is not suffered by special permissions of God, to use his natural power to tempt men to sin; and also sometimes, though very rarely, to endeavour to seduce them by lying signs, in which he would fain mimic the finger of God. But on these occasions he always bears the visible marks of his imposture, by which his works may be distinguished from those of God. Among these, a secret spirit of pride is always a certain proof of his artifice. Hence those who lay down rules for the discernment of spirits, unanimously teach, that in visions, rapts, or extraordinary favours, everything is to be ascribed to the illusion of the devil or the force of imagination, if the person coveted or was fond of such extraordinary favours, which is always a grievous presumption and dangerous snare: likewise, if under them he seemed puffed up, if he divulged them, or willingly spoke of them, except for private advice or necessity. For the Holy Ghost, especially in such favours, always inspires by his gifts, and requires the most profound humility, love of the closest secrecy, and perfect obedience to the advice of spiritual superiors, even against a person’s own judgment. Such favours, if doubtful as to their origin, must always be disregarded. Persons must also be convinced that sanctity no way consists in them; must set no high value on them, and labour only to advance by every means in sincere humility, meekness, and charity; rejoicing not in them, but in the divine grace and mercy. (Luke x. 20.) This St. Philip perfectly understood, and was endowed with a singular gift of discerning spirits. He sharply reproved those who seemed to be delighted with visions, and was wont to exhort such persons to contemn them as dangerous snares, affirming, “That nothing is more pernicious than such mad mockeries of the devils, who easily transform themselves into angels of light.” He inculcated, “That persons ought to be only solicitous to correct their manners, and subdue their passions.” [back]

Note 8. See the life of Card. Baronius published with the letters, and censure of Molina, by Raymundus Albericius, in 2 vols. 4to. at Rome, in 1759. [back]

Note 9. The Oratorians in Italy are called Philippini, and are not religious men, but secular priests living in communities. This congregation flourishes in that country with learned and eminent men, from whose zealous labours in teaching youth, and in all the functions of the ministry, the public reap much advantage.

  The French Oratory is an institute formed upon the plan of the Italian Oratory, but differing in several material points. The founder was the learned and pious Cardinal Peter de Berulle. That great man was descended of a noble family of Champagne. His father, Claude, was a counsellor or judge in the parliament of Paris, and his mother, Louisa Seguier was, by her exemplary piety, an additional ornament to the long line of great statesmen and prelates, which in her family had for many ages served their country. After the decease of her virtuous consort she became a Carmelite nun, in which austere Order she died in the arms of her pious son, in the seventy-eighth year of her age. Peter, when only eighteen years old, wrote an excellent book on Self-Denial. He at first turned his thoughts towards a religious life; but being desirous to serve his neighbour, at last entered among the secular clergy, and after a retreat of forty days spent in assiduous prayer and great austerities, in a convent of Capuchins, received holy orders in 1599. In saying his first mass he fell into raptures in the presence of many persons. From his infancy he was a fervent lover of humility, mortification, retirement, and prayer; and his whole life was a perfect model of these virtues. Though he was a most learned divine, yet out of humility he would never take the degree of doctor. He refused the bishopricks of Laon and Nantes, and the abbacy of St. Stephen of Caen; also the honour of being preceptor to the dauphin of France, though he was very much pressed to take upon him that charge. The king once finding all his endeavours in vain to oblige him to accept of a bishopric, said with warmth, he would take care that he should be compelled to consent, by one who was greater than himself, meaning the pope. Berulle resolutely answered, that if he were pressed any more upon that head, he would leave his majesty’s dominions. He converted the Count of Laval, and many other Calvinists, and employed himself with great zeal in the direction of souls. He settled in France the Teresian or Carmelite nuns, whom he brought from Spain in 1603, and was himself many years the confessarius of those chaste spouses of Christ in their nunnery, which, for his sake, the queen mother, Mary Medicis, built for their use in Paris.

  This servant of God formed certain priests in the perfect spirit of their holy state, and by the strong persuasions of St. Francis of Sales, venerable Cæsar de Bus, and F. Coton, and by the repeated commands of his bishop, Cardinal de Retz founded the French Oratory in 1611. He worked with his own hands in building their first chapel, and carried himself hods of mortar; for he sought every opportunity of humiliation. The French Oratorians are a congregation of priests who live in voluntary poverty, obedience, and the laborious functions of their state, according to the spirit of Jesus Christ. They are not religious men, but can of their own accord leave the Congregation; which was confirmed by Paul V. in 1613. The holy founder, notwithstanding his reluctancy, was often employed in public affairs. When the marriage of the Princess Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV. of France, with Charles I. king of England, was concluded, the French king sent the Abbé Berulle to Rome to procure a dispensation on account of the difference of religion, on which occasion the then Pope Urban VIII., after conversing often with the holy man, said: “Mr. Berulle is not a man but an angel.” And he gave orders to his nuncios in France to follow in all things his advice, and to do nothing without it. He sent a cardinal’s hat to meet him upon his return into France, with an express command to accept it. Berulle received the hat at Paris in 1627. King Louis XIII. sent him into England to conduct thither his sister Henrietta Maria; and he there gained the esteem and veneration of the whole court, though his stay was very short. We are assured, says Perrault, that what chiefly determined Louis XIII. and his council to undertake the siege of Rochelle, was a revelation which this cardinal had, that it would be successful. Berulle wrote many excellent works of piety, which were published in one volume, folio, by his learned and holy successor in the Oratory, F. Bourguoin, who has prefixed to them his life. In his writings we admire his wonderful zeal and piety, his love of perfect self-denial and profound humility; and the most tender devotion to our divine Redeemer, and his sacred passion; also to the Blessed Virgin and St. Mary Magdalen. Notwithstanding his dignity of cardinal, and his great authority in the church and state, he never departed from his first plan of life, or from the simplicity, modesty, poverty, and temperance of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. He said mass every day with the most tender and edifying devotion, and died of an apoplexy at the altar, just before the consecration, whilst he was offering to God the sacrifice of his heart, together with the immaculate victim he was going to consecrate.
Whence the epigram:—

Cæpta sub extremis nequeo dum sacra sacerdos
Perficere; at saltem victima perficiam.

See his life by Perrault, Hommes Illustr. by Bourguoin, and by Habert de Cerisy. Cardinal Berulle died in 1629, fifty-five years old. He is buried in the stately church of the Oratorians in the street of St. Honoré in Paris; and in the rich and beautiful church of his dear Carmelite nuns, in the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, in which he was accustomed to pass many hours in prayer and heavenly contemplation, is placed a fine marble statue admirably finished, representing him on his knees at prayer before the altar. Over against this statue is the justly admired picture of St. Mary Magdalen, the masterpiece of Le Brun, exhibiting the true portraiture of the famous Duchesse de la Vallière, who made her religious profession in this austere house in 1675, and after a most penitential and holy life, died in 1710. Her spirit is expressed in her book, entitled, Reflections on the Divine Mercy. In this chapel the cardinal kindled in his meditations the glowing sentiments of devotion to St. Mary Magdalen, and of divine love, humility, and compunction, which he expresses in his writings on her illustrious virtues.


  Nothing is of greater importance in the church than that clergymen be formed in the perfect spirit of their holy state. And it must be acknowledged that it is not easy to imagine anything better adapted to this purpose than the original institute of the French Oratory. The example indeed of this spirit is of all means the most powerful to communicate it to others. This help none so perfectly possessed as those pastors who had the happiness of conversing with, and being formed by the apostles, or the most eminently holy apostolic men among their disciples, the Ignatiuses, the Polycarps, the Simeons, &c. Yet the first Oratorians had an admirable example of this spirit before their eyes in their holy founder; and in all the constitutions and exercises of their institute the greatest external helps, especially in those of prayer and holy meditation, which are the soul of an interior life. These Cardinal Berulle was chiefly solicitous to direct, so as to instil the most perfect spirit of Christ, or of his humility, meekness, patience, entire disengagement from the world or view to its interests, (which is called the spirit of poverty,) ardent zeal, and love both of God and our neighbour. This holy spirit was eminently inherited by F. Condren, the second, and by F. Bourguoin, third general of the French Oratory. The former, out of that profound humility for which he was most remarkable in all his actions, never would print anything during his life, and refused with invincible resolution the dignity of cardinal, and the archbishoprics of Rheims and Lyons. Something, indeed, of his writings has been published since his death, which happened in 1641. From his edifying life, written by F. Amelot, it appears how eminently he was replenished with the spirit of God and the science of the saints; with how tender a piety he was endowed, and with how extraordinary a talent in directing souls in the paths of Christian perfection. F. Bourguoin, who died in 1662, and left five volumes of very pious meditations on the life of Christ, &c., was not inferior to his predecessor in reputation for sanctity. The most tender devotion to our blessed Redeemer, and assiduous meditation on the mysteries of his Incarnation, were the characteristic virtues of these holy men and their colleagues. Among these, John Baptist Gault being consecrated bishop of Marseilles, in a short time reformed that whole diocess, finished the hospital begun by M. de Gondy for the galley-slaves, spent much of his time in comforting and instructing them, and by his astonishing meekness and patience overcoming the obstinacy of the most hardened and most insolent, whom he would attend in their voyage or expedition at sea. He died on the 23d of May, 1643, in the odour of sanctity, and his tomb is visited in a chapel of the cathedral by great crowds of devout Christians, and the chapel filled with votive tokens for favours received of God. His life is written by several hands. F. Le Jeune, surnamed the Blind Father, because he lost his sight whilst he was preaching at Rouen, in the thirty-fifth year of his age, though he continued his missions and preaching to his death, in 1672, the eightieth year of his age, was not less illustrious by the sanctity of his life, than by the wonderful success of his sermons. See the Discourse on his life by M. Ruben, in 8vo.; also Lamy, 7me Entretien sur les Sciences, p. 224.

  The happy influence of the zeal, holy example, and perfect spirit of these pious clergymen was not confined to their own congregation. M. Olier, who founded the seminary of S. Sulpice, at Paris, in 1642, entirely reformed that vast parish and many other parts of France, and by his missionaries planted the faith at Montreal in America, was formed to perfect virtue, and directed in his pious establishments by F. Condren. His life, written by F. Giry, presents us in a short portraiture the most accomplished model both of an ecclesiastical spirit, and of an interior life in all its states, whether of spiritual dryness and desolation, of contemplation, or of all the various functions of the ministry. His letters and other short tracts breathe the most cordial sentiments of charity and true piety.

  F. Eudes, brother to Mezeray the French historian, was a perfect imitator of Cardinal Berulle, and F. Condren, and upon their spirit formed both his own in all maxims of true piety, and that of the Congregation of reformed secular clergy which he instituted at Caën in 1643, and which still subsists under the name of Eudistes in Normandy, Paris, Senlis, &c. They obey their superior without any vow, and are employed in the direction of several episcopal seminaries. The tender devotions and spirit of piety of Cardinal Berulle, are pathetically expressed in F. Eudes’s excellent book, entitled Le Royaume de Jesus Christ.

  F. Bernard, surnamed the Poor Priest, son to a counsellor of the parliament of Burgundy (afterwards Lieutenant-general of Chalon upon the Saöne) was much assisted after his conversion to God by the pious counsels of F. Condren. He was one of the most eminent contemplatives of his age; and the grand prior of Clugni gave public evidence that he saw this servant of God once, in the chapel of the Jesuits’ college at Paris, raised above two feet from the ground for a considerable time together. So great was his love of abjection and the cross, that he thus addressed himself to our Redeemer: “The first of thy priests asked as a great favour that he might stay with you upon Mount Thabor, and I who am the last of thy ministers entreat thee to suffer me to remain at the foot of thy cross, suffering and dying if you please, provided I suffer and die by you.” So perfect was his spirit and love of poverty that Cardinal Richelieu could not prevail upon him to accept of any benefice for himself or any other, or to ask of him any other favour than that some loose boards in the bottom of the cart on which he attended criminals to execution might be mended, that they might pray without distractions from the fear of falling in the way. The fruit of his inflamed extemporary sermons several times in the week was inexpressible. He died in 1641, was buried in the chapel of the hospital De la Charité, and the court and clergy of France have often solicited his beatification. See his life by M. Gauffre, F. Giry, and F. Lempereur, Jesuit.

  To omit many other instances, that of sister Mary of the Incarnation has too close a connection with the history of Cardinal Berulle to be passed over.



  A virtuous lady of Paris was a great assistant to the cardinal in his pious foundations, especially that of the Carmelite nuns. Her name was Barbara Aurillot, by marriage Acharie. Having lived in the world remarkable for her great charities, devotions, and mortifications, being a widow, she was professed a lay-sister in the poor house of the Carmelite nuns in Amiens; for she declined the great nunnery in Paris, in founding which she had been greatly instrumental. It is not to be expressed with what reluctance the nuns consented to receive a person of her quality, their mistress and foundress in France, as a servant; and Dr. Du Val, joint superior with Berulle, and the nuns opposed the design; but Berulle, discerning in her request a sincere spirit of humility, would not have her lose the merit of that virtue, and prevailed that her request should be granted. She with joy undertook to serve in the kitchen, and as second sister in keeping the house clean. She was called, in religion, Mary of the Incarnation, and is regarded as foundress, under Cardinal Berulle of the French Teresian nuns. After her solemn vows, she was removed to Pontoise, and there died in 1618, fifty-two years old. See her edifying life by F. Hervé the Oratorian. [back]

Note 10. See Galloni and Baccius, l. 4, c. 2. [back]

Note 11. See an account of several testified upon oath by competent vouchers in Baccius, l. 5. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


San Filippo Neri Sacerdote

Firenze, 1515 - Roma, 26 maggio 1595

Figlio di un notaio fiorentino di buona famiglia. Ricevette una buona istruzione e poi fece pratica dell'attività di suo padre; ma aveva subito l'influenza dei domenicani di san Marco, dove Savonarola era stato frate non molto tempo prima, e dei benedettini di Montecassino, e all'età di diciott'anni abbandonò gli affari e andò a Roma. Là visse come laico per diciassette anni e inizialmente si guadagnò da vivere facendo il precettore, scrisse poesie e studiò filosofia e teologia. A quel tempo la città era in uno stato di grande corruzione, e nel 1538 Filippo Neri cominciò a lavorare fra i giovani della città e fondò una confraternita di laici che si incontravano per adorare Dio e per dare aiuto ai pellegrini e ai convalescenti, e che gradualmente diedero vita al grande ospizio della Trinità. Filippo passava molto tempo in preghiera, specialmente di notte e nella catacomba di san Sebastiano, dove nel 1544 sperimentò un'estasi di amore divino che si crede abbia lasciato un effetto fisico permanente sul suo cuore. Nel 1551 Filippo Neri fu ordinato prete e andò a vivere nel convitto ecclesiastico di san Girolamo, dove presto si fece un nome come confessore; gli fu attribuito il dono di saper leggere nei cuori. Ma la sua occupazione principale era ancora il lavoro tra i giovani. San Filippo era assistito da altri giovani chierici, e nel 1575 li aveva organizzati nella Congregazione dell'Oratorio; per la sua società (i cui membri non emettono i voti che vincolano gli ordini religiosi e le congregazioni), costruì una nuova chiesa, la Chiesa Nuova, a santa Maria "in Vallicella". Diventò famoso in tutta la città e la sua influenza sui romani del tempo, a qualunque ceto appartenessero, fu incalcolabile.

Patronato: Giovani

Etimologia: Filippo = che ama i cavalli, dal greco

Martirologio Romano: Memoria di san Filippo Neri, sacerdote, che, adoperandosi per allontanare i giovani dal male, fondò a Roma un oratorio, nel quale si eseguivano letture spirituali, canti e opere di carità; rifulse per il suo amore verso il prossimo, la semplicità evangelica, la letizia d’animo, lo zelo esemplare e il fervore nel servire Dio.

Filippo Neri nasce a Firenze il 21 luglio 1515, e riceve il battesimo nel "bel san Giovanni" dei Fiorentini il giorno seguente, festa di S. Maria Maddalena. 


La famiglia dei Neri, che aveva conosciuto in passato una certa importanza, risentiva allora delle mutate condizioni politiche e viveva in modesto stato economico. Il padre, ser Francesco, era notaio, ma l'esercizio della sua professione era ristretto ad una piccola cerchia di clienti; la madre, Lucrezia da Mosciano, proveniva da una modesta famiglia del contado, e moriva poco dopo aver dato alla luce il quarto figlio. 

La famiglia si trovò affidata alle cure della nuova sposa di ser Francesco, Alessandra di Michele Lenzi, che instaurò con tutti un affettuoso rapporto, soprattutto con Filippo, il secondogenito, dotato di un bellissimo carattere, pio e gentile, vivace e lieto, il "Pippo buono" che suscitava affetto ed ammirazione tra tutti i conoscenti. 

Dal padre, probabilmente, Filippo ricevette la prima istruzione, che lasciò in lui soprattutto il gusto dei libri e della lettura, una passione che lo accompagnò per tutta la vita, testimoniata dall'inventario della sua biblioteca privata, lasciata in morte alla Congregazione romana, e costituita di un notevole numero di volumi. La formazione religiosa del ragazzo ebbe nel convento dei Domenicani di San Marco un centro forte e fecondo. Si respirava, in quell'ambiente, il clima spirituale del movimento savonaroliano, e per fra Girolamo Savonarola Filippo nutrì devozione lungo tutto l'arco della vita, pur nella evidente distanza dai metodi e dalle scelte del focoso predicatore apocalittico. 

Intorno ai diciotto anni, su consiglio del padre, desideroso di offrire a quel figlio delle possibilità che egli non poteva garantire, Filippo si recò da un parente, avviato commerciante e senza prole, a San Germano, l'attuale Cassino. Ma l'esperienza della mercatura durò pochissimo tempo: erano altre le aspirazioni del cuore, e non riuscirono a trattenerlo l'affetto della nuova famiglia e le prospettive di un'agiata situazione economica.

Lo troviamo infatti a Roma, a partire dal 1534. Vi si recò, probabilmente, senza un progetto preciso. Roma, la città santa delle memorie cristiane, la terra benedetta dal sangue dei martiri, ma anche allettatrice di tanti uomini desiderio di carriera e di successo, attrasse il suo desiderio di intensa vita spirituale: Filippo vi giunse come pellegrino, e con l'animo del pellegrino penitente, del "monaco della città" per usare un'espressione oggi di moda, visse gli anni della sua giovinezza, austero e lieto al tempo stesso, tutto dedito a coltivare lo spirito. 

La casa del fiorentino Galeotto Caccia, capo della Dogana, gli offrì una modesta ospitalità - una piccola camera ed un ridottissimo vitto - ricambiata da Filippo con l'incarico di precettore dei figli del Caccia. Lo studio lo attira - frequenta le lezioni di filosofia e di teologia dagli Agostiniani ed alla Sapienza - ma ben maggiore è l'attrazione della vita contemplativa che impedisce talora a Filippo persino di concentrarsi sugli argomenti delle lezioni. 

La vita contemplativa che egli attua è vissuta nella libertà del laico che poteva scegliere, fuori dai recinti di un chiostro, i modi ed i luoghi della sua preghiera: Filippo predilesse le chiese solitarie, i luoghi sacri delle catacombe, memoria dei primi tempi della Chiesa apostolica, il sagrato delle chiese durante le notti silenziose. Coltivò per tutta la vita questo spirito di contemplazione, alimentato anche da fenomeni straordinari, come quello della Pentecoste del 1544, quando Filippo, nelle catacombe si san Sebastiano, durante una notte di intensa preghiera, ricevette in forma sensibile il dono dello Spirito Santo che gli dilatò il cuore infiammandolo di un fuoco che arderà nel petto del santo fino al termine dei suoi giorni. 

Questa intensissima vita contemplativa si sposava nel giovane Filippo ad un altrettanto intensa, quanto discreta nelle forme e libera nei metodi, attività di apostolato nei confronti di coloro che egli incontrava nelle piazze e per le vie di Roma, nel servizio della carità presso gli Ospedali degli incurabili, nella partecipazione alla vita di alcune confraternite, tra le quali, in modo speciale, quella della Trinità dei Pellegrini, di cui Filippo, se non il fondatore, fu sicuramente il principale artefice insieme al suo confessore P. Persiano Rosa.

A questo degnissimo sacerdote, che viveva a san Girolamo della Carità, e con il quale Filippo aveva profonde sintonie di temperamento lieto e di impostazione spirituale, il giovane, che ormai si avviava all'età adulta, aveva affidato la cura della sua anima. Ed è sotto la direzione spirituale di P. Persiano che maturò lentamente la chiamata alla vita sacerdotale. Filippo se ne sentiva indegno, ma sapeva il valore dell'obbedienza fiduciosa ad un padre spirituale che gli dava tanti esempi di santità. A trentasei anni, il 23 maggio del 1551, dopo aver ricevuto gli ordini minori, il suddiaconato ed il diaconato, nella chiesa parrocchiale di S. Tommaso in Parione, il vicegerente di Roma, Mons. Sebastiano Lunel, lo ordinava sacerdote. 

Messer Filippo Neri continuò da sacerdote l'intensa vita apostolica che già lo aveva caratterizzato da laico. Andò ad abitare nella Casa di san Girolamo, sede della Confraternita della Carità, che ospitava a pigione un certo numero di sacerdoti secolari, dotati di ottimo spirito evangelico, i quali attendevano alla annessa chiesa. Qui il suo principale ministero divenne l'esercizio del confessionale, ed è proprio con i suoi penitenti che  Filippo iniziò, nella semplicità della sua piccola camera, quegli incontri di meditazione, di dialogo spirituale, di preghiera, che costituiscono l'anima ed il metodo dell'Oratorio. Ben presto quella cameretta non bastò al numero crescente di amici spirituali, e Filippo ottenne da "quelli della Carità" di poterli radunare in un locale, situato sopra una nave della chiesa, prima destinato a conservare il grano che i confratelli distribuivano ai poveri.

Tra i discepoli del santo, alcuni - ricordiamo tra tutti Cesare Baronio e Francesco Maria Tarugi, i futuri cardinali - maturarono la vocazione sacerdotale, innamorati del metodo e dell'azione pastorale di P. Filippo. Nacque così, senza un progetto preordinato, la "Congregazione dell'Oratorio": la comunità dei preti che nell'Oratorio avevano non solo il centro della loro vita spirituale, ma anche il più fecondo campo di apostolato. Insieme ad altri discepoli di Filippo, nel frattempo divenuti sacerdoti, questi andarono ad abitare a San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, di cui P. Filippo aveva dovuto accettare la Rettoria per le pressioni dei suoi connazionali sostenuti dal Papa. E qui iniziò tra i discepoli di Filippo quella semplice vita famigliare, retta da poche regole essenziali, che fu la culla della futura Congregazione. 

Nel 1575 Papa Gregorio XIII affidò a Filippo ed ai suoi preti la piccola e fatiscente chiesa di S. Maria in Vallicella, a due passi da S. Girolamo e da S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, erigendo al tempo stesso con la Bolla "Copiosus in misericordia Deus" la "Congregatio presbyterorm saecularium de Oratorio nuncupanda". Filippo, che continuò a vivere nell'amata cameretta di San Girolamo fino al 1583, e che si trasferì, solo per obbedienza al Papa, nella nuova residenza dei suoi preti, si diede con tutto l'impegno a ricostruire in dimensioni grandiose ed in bellezza la piccola chiesa della Vallicella.

Qui trascorse gli ultimi dodici anni della sua vita, nell'esercizio del suo prediletto apostolato di sempre: l'incontro paterno e dolcissimo, ma al tempo stesso forte ed impegnativo, con ogni categoria di persone, nell'intento di condurre a Dio ogni anima non attraverso difficili sentieri, ma nella semplicità evangelica, nella fiduciosa certezza dell'infallibile amore divino, nella letizia dello spirito che sgorga dall'unione con Dio. Si spense nelle prime ore del 26 maggio 1595, all'età di ottant'anni, amato dai suoi e da tutta Roma di un amore carico di stima e di affezione. 

La sua vita è chiaramente suddivisa in due periodi di pressoché identica durata: trentasei anni di vita laicale, quarantaquattro di vita sacerdotale. Ma Filippo Neri, fiorentino di nascita - e quanto amava ricordarlo! - e romano di adozione - tanto egli aveva adottato Roma, quanto Roma aveva adottato lui! - fu sempre quel prodigio di carità apostolica vissuta in una mirabile unione con Dio, che la Grazia divina operò in un uomo originalissimo ed affascinante. 

"Apostolo di Roma" lo definirono immediatamente i Pontefici ed il popolo Romano, attribuendogli il titolo riservato a Pietro e Paolo, titolo che Roma non diede a nessun altro dei pur grandissimi santi che, contemporaneamente a Filippo, aveva vissuto ed operato tra le mura della Città Eterna. Il cuore di Padre Filippo, ardente del fuoco dello Spirito, cessava di battere in terra in quella bella notte estiva, ma lasciava in eredità alla sua Congregazione ed alla Chiesa intera il dono di una vita a cui la Chiesa non cessa di guardare con gioioso stupore. Ne è forte testimonianza anche il Magistero del Santo Padre Giovanni Paolo II che in varie occasioni ha lumeggiato la figura di san Filippo Neri e lo ha citato, unico dei santi che compaiano esplicitamente con il loro nome, nella Bolla di indizione del Grande Giubileo del 2000.



Autore: Mons. Edoardo Aldo Cerrato CO


Fonte:


Voir aussi : http://www.dieu-parmi-nous.com/NIC/Saint.Philippe.Neri.pdf