Philip of Jesus, OFM M (RM)
(also known as Philip de las Casas
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, May 1, 1571; died in Nagasaki, Japan, 1597; beatified by Pope Urban VIII; canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1862; feast day formerly February 5.
The life of Saint Philip points again to the importance of the domestic church--the family. Early in life Saint Philip ignored the pious teachings of his immigrant Spanish family, but eventually he entered the Reformed Franciscan Convent of Santa Barbara at Puebla, Mexico--and soon exited the novitiate in 1589. Grieved at the inconstancy of his son, Philip's father sent him on a business trip to the Philippines.
Like many of us, Philip sought to escape God's love in worldly pleasures but the Hound of Heaven tracked him down. Gaining courage by prayer, Philip was again able to follow his vocation, joined the convent of Our Lady of the Angels in Manila in 1590, and took his vows in 1594. The richest cargo Philip could have sent back to Mexico couldn't have pleased his father more than the message that Philip had been professed a friar. Alonso de las Casas obtained directions from the commissary of the order that Philip should be sent to Mexico to be ordained a priest.
He embarked with other religious on the Saint Philip in July 1596 but storms shipwrecked them in Japan. Amid the storm, Philip saw over Japan a white cross, in the shape used in that country, which after a time became blood-red, and remained so for some time. It was an omen of his coming victory.
The ship's captain sent Philip and two others to the emperor to gain permission for them to continue their voyage, but they could not obtain an audience. He then continued to the Franciscan house in Macao to see if they could apply pressure. In the meantime, the pilot of the Saint Philip had excited the emperor's fears of Christians, causing him to contemplate their extermination.
In December, officers seized a number of the Franciscan fathers, including Philip, three Jesuits, and several of their young pupils. When Philip had that they were to die, he responded with joy. His left ear was cut off, and he offered the first fruit of his blood to God for the salvation of Japan.
The martyrs were taken to Nagasaki, where crosses had been erected on a high hill. When Philip was led to the one on which he was to die, he knelt down, clasped it, and exclaimed, "O happy ship! O happy galleon for Philip, lost for my gain! Loss--no loss for me, but the greatest of all gain!" He was bound to the cross, but the footrest under him gave way, so that he was strangled by the cords that bound him. While repeating the name of Jesus, he was the first of the group to die. Philip was 25. Miracles attested the power before God of these first martyrs of Japan (Benedictines, Butler, Delaney).
Saint Philip is the patron of Mexico City, Mexico.