Philip Neri, Saint

Philip Neri, Saint nāˈrē [key], 1515–95, Italian reformer. His original name was Filippo Romolo de' Neri. From boyhood he was religious, and in 1533 he went to Rome to study. From about 1537 on, he devoted his time to working among the people of Rome, visiting the sick, and frequenting crowded places to talk to people about the need of religion. In 1548, with his confessor, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity to care for pilgrims and convalescents. He preached (although still a layman) with great success at the exercises of the society. In 1551 he was ordained. He went to the Church of San Girolamo, where the priests conducted city missionary work. St. Philip's confessional was constantly frequented, and his informal meetings for men and boys wrought a religious awakening in Rome. So great was his personal effect on individuals of every class that he is called the Apostle of Rome. He built an oratory over the church and conducted exercises with vernacular prayers and hymns for the people. Concerts of sacred music were also included, and from those the oratorio derives its name. His community of secular priests was canonically established in 1575; this was the beginning of the Congregation of the Oratory. In 1593 he resigned his position as superior of his community. Besides the extraordinary revivification of the faith, he is credited with extension of vernacular services and of the exposition of the Sacrament. Feast: May 26.

See L. Bouyer, The Roman Socrates (tr. 1958).

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