May 26, 2011

May 26: Saint Philip Neri

O God, who never cease to bestow the glory of holiness on the faithful servants you raise up for yourself, graciously grant that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire with which he wonderfully filled the heart of Saint Philip Neri.

[Original Latin text: Deus, qui fideles tibi servos sanctitatis gloria sublimare non desistis, concede propitius, ut illo nos igne Spiritus Sanctus inflammet, quo beati Philippi cor mirabiliter penetravit.]

~ Missale Romanum 1975 editio typica altera (Via Fr. Z's Blog)

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 
The Virgin Appearing to St Philip Neri
Museo Diocesano, Camerino 
Saint Philip Neri was the gracious, cheerful Rome’s apostle of the sixteenth century, but at the same time he is one of the glories of Florence, where he was born of an illustrious Christian family, in 1515. His peculiar charisma was a burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him and that made him one of the most beloved saints in Christendom. I have to say I have always loved him since I was a little boy in Rome (where I grew up), because my Religion teacher, an old cheerful man, Father Contenti (which in Italian means “happy” in plural…), would often tell us kids stories and anecdotes about him—some of my most cherished memories ever!

What is not commonly known is that he was also a very good friend, admirer, counselor, and confessor for many years of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the greatest composer of liturgical music of all time—it was in his arms that the great composer breathed his last. That’s why I think a good way to celebrate him is to listen to this sublime Alma Redemptoris Mater mottetto:

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