25 May 2010

St. Philip Neri: the Roman Socrates

 Your One Stop Spot for All Things St. Philip Neri. . .

Basic biographical/historical info. . .NB. the entry under "Political Activity"

My favorite modern biography of Philip:  The Fire of Joy

A maxim a day keeps the Devil away!  Philip Neri sayings for everyday of the year.
EWTN: Philip Neri

Patron Saint Index with lots of links

Saint of the Day: Philip Neri, saint and joker

The Toronto Oratory

The London Oratory, Brompton

At Catholic Fire: Philip Neri, humorous saint

. . .and the Chiesa Nuova, Philip Neri's church in Rome. Only in Rome can you call a 16th century church a "new church"! Philip is buried in a side chapel there. I've visited frequently, asking for a better sense of humor for dealing with the enemies of the Church.

And today is my 46th birthday. My mother denies it, refusing to believe that she has a 46 year old son!  Though she did tell me on the phone recently that I am starting to look my age. 

I am often asked why a Dominican would choose "Philip Neri" as his religious name. I wish there were some mystical, mysterious story to tell. There isn't. When I was going through RCIA, my pastor urged us all to take confirmation names. He suggested that we look at the saints honored on our birthdays for inspiration. He reasoned that picking a name from a saint celebrated on our birthday would help us to remember to imitate that saint. I picked "Philip Neri" for no other reason than that May 26th is his feast day. When I joined the Order, we were told we could use a religious name. One of the brothers asked me my confirmation name and suggested that I make it my religious name. With just a little research into Philip Neri's life, I found quite a lot I wanted to imitate!  

Though I cringe when my name is shortened to "Fr. Phil," there is one diminutive of the great saint's name I don't mind. . .Philip's closest friends used "Pippo" as a term of endearment for him.  Here's an article by the French Oratorian, Fr. Louis Bouyer that includes a couple of funny stories about the saint.

Philip knew many of the great Dominicans of his day. He was a renowned preacher and confessor. He worked tirelessly among the spiritually defeated youths of Rome. He was a practical joker and an outrageous spiritual director. When he died, an autopsy revealed that his heart had grown too big for this body. An apt description of this saint of Christ's joy! Philip was canonized along with Theresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola.

Follow HancAquam ------------>


  1. Such an appropriate name to have chosen on your confirmation!
    God bless!

  2. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Happy Birthday!
    I didn't know St. Philip Neri carried a joke book in his pocket.
    I think you did well picking out a saint. Mine was picked out the same way, St. Francis de Sales..

  3. Happy birthday! Ad multos annos!


  4. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Happy Birthday and Happy Feast Day!
    (St. Philip Neri is my patron saint of the year as well, so every time I remember to ask for his prayers, I pray for you too)
    Ad multos annos!

  5. The Pittsburgh Oratory:


    The Oratorians that I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing for roughly ten years now.

  6. Any truth to the story that St. Philip Nery hollowed out part of his breviary to keep a jar of Nutella handy?

  7. Do you know this tribute to him, from "The Loveletters of Phyllis McGinley"?

    When Philip Neri walked abroad
    Beside the Tiber, praising God
    They say he was attended home
    By half the younger set of Rome.
    Knight, novice, scholar, boisterous boy,
    They followed after him with joy,
    To nurse his poor and break his bread,
    And hear the funny things he said.
    For Philip Neri (by his birth
    A Florentine) believed in mirth,
    And held that virtue took no harm
    That went with laughter arm-in-arm.
    Two books he read with most affection-
    The Gospels and a joke collection;
    And sang hosannas set to fiddles,
    And fed the sick on soup and riddles.
    So when the grave rebuke the merry,
    Let them remember Philip Neri
    (Fifteen-fifteen to ninety-five),
    Who was the merriest man alive,
    Then dying at eighty or a bit
    Became a Saint by holy wit.

  8. Dismas, vicious and unsubstantiated rumors! The Nutella was in the missal...the breviary was his Oreo stash.

  9. Happy birthday, father. And happy name day, too.
    We had osso buca in celebration of the feast, there being a great devotion to St. Philip Neri in our home.

  10. DenverGregg10:03 PM

    Hsppy Birthday to a fellow forty-six-year old big fella!