St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saint Philip Neri, Priest
(Memorial)
May 26



Alphaeus (AC)
1st century. In Matthew 10:3, Alphaeus is mentioned as the father of Saint James the Less. The Greeks commemorate his holiness on this day. Apocryphal book embellish the few details we know or can deduce about his life, but they are not worthy of belief (Benedictines).


Becan of Cork (AC)
6th century. The Irish Saint Becan lived as a hermit near Cork during the time of Saint Columba (Benedictines).


Berencardus of Saint Papoul, OSB (AC)
(also known as Berenger)

Born near Toulouse, France; died 1293. Berencardus was a monk of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Papoul in Languedoc. After his ordination, he was the novice-master, almoner, and master of works (operarius) noted for his charity and patience (Benedictines).


Eleutherius, Pope M (RM)
Born in Nicopolis, Epirus, Greece; died in Rome, May 24, c. 189. Although Eleutherius, son of Habundius, was Greek, he became a deacon in Rome and was elected pope about 174 to succeed Saint Soter. He is known only for his decree that any food fit for humans was suitable for Christians-- probably issued against the rigorism of the Gnostics and the Montanists. The story of his sending missionaries to Britain is abandoned by most modern scholars (Benedictines, Delaney).


Blessed Eva of Liége V (AC)
Died c. 1266; cultus confirmed in 1902. Eva lived in Liége as a hermit under the Cistercian Rule. On the death of Blessed Juliana of Mount Cornillon, she successfully continued Juliana's work of promoting the institution of the liturgical feast of Corpus Christi (Benedictines).


Felicissimus, Heraclius and Paulinus MM (RM)
Died 303. This trio was martyred under Diocletian, probably at Todi, Umbria, Italy, where their relics are still venerated (Benedictines).


Fugatius and Damian (RM)
(also known as Phaganu, Fagan, or Ffager and Diruvianus, Deruvian, Dyfan) 2nd century. Fugatius and Damian are the missionaries allegedly sent by Pope Saint Eleutherius to Britain (Benedictines).


Guinizo of Monte Cassino, OSB (AC)
Born in Spain; died c. 1050. Guinizo became a Benedictine at Monte Cassino and remained there as a hermit on the holy mountain after the abbey was destroyed (Benedictines).


Blessed John Hoan M (AC)
Born at Kim-long, Cochin-China (Vietnam), c. 1789; died near Dougl Hoi, 1861; beatified in 1909. John worked zealously as a priest until his martyrdom by beheading under Yu-Duc (Benedictines).


Lambert Péloguin of Vence, OSB B (AC)
Born near Riez, France, c. 1080; died 1154. A Benedictine of Lérins, Saint Lambert became bishop of Vence in Provence in 1114 and governed the diocese for forty years. His relics are still enshrined in Vence (Benedictines).


Mariana de Paredes y Flores of Quito V (AC)
(also known as the Lily of Quito and Mariana of Jesus)

Born in Quito, Ecuador (then a part of Peru), 1618; died May 26, 1645; canonized 1950. Mariana's story very closely resembles that of Saint Rose of Lima. Hers, too, was a life of penance, solitude, ecstasies, and prophecy. Rose's parents were Spanish nobles, who died while she was still young. She was raised by her elder sister and her husband. Early in life, Mariana was attracted to religious things. At the age of 12, she wanted to evangelize Japan. She tried her vocation as a religious. When the vocation failed, she became a Franciscan tertiary and a solitary in her sister's home under the direction of her Jesuit confessor.

Like Saint Rose, Mariana, the "Lily of Quito" who called herself Mariana of Jesus, ministered to the needy and taught Indian children in her home. Mariana's penitential practices, however, were even more startling than those of Rose. In fact, they were so extravagant that they seem to be the product of morbid fanaticism and appear to be more the result of a hagiographer's exaggeration than of a Jesuit's spiritual direction. She ate hardly anything and slept for only three hours a night for years. She had the gift of prophecy and a reputation for performing miracles.

During an epidemic in Quito following an earthquake in 1645, Mariana publicly offered her life in expiation for the sins of others, and in fact died soon after the epidemic began to abate. She, Saint Rose, and others like them were simply seeking to follow Christ in his spirit and his sufferings, but the means were not always prudently chosen, and such saints pose delicate questions of religion and psychology (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Keyes).


Blessed Matthew Phung M (AC)
Born at Ke-lay, Cochin-China (Vietnam), c. 1801; died near Dong- hoi, northern Cochin-China, 1861; beatified 1909. Matthew was a native catechist, who was beheaded for the faith (Benedictines).


Odulvald of Melrose, Abbot (AC)
Died 698. Odulvald was a Scottish nobleman--the governor of the province of Laudon. He renounced the world in order to enter Melrose Abbey, where he found his joy in singing the verses of the Psalmist about our delivery from slavery. Eventually, he became abbot of Melrose, where he was noted for his continued advancement in spiritual fervor, his gift of tears, and constant prayer. His sighs after heaven were crowned with a joyful and happy death ten years after that of Saint Cuthbert (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Blessed Peter Sanz, OP BM (AC)
Born in Asco, Catalonia, Spain, 1680; died at Fu-tsheu, China, in 1747; beatified in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII.

The viceroy of Peking wrote this about the five martyrs that included Peter Sanz: "What are we to do with these men? Their lives are certainly irreproachable; even in prison they convert men to their opinions, and their doctrines so seize upon the heart that their adepts fear neither torments nor captivity. They themselves are joyous in their chains. The jailors and their families become their disciples, and those condemned to death embrace their religion. To prolong this state is only to give them the opportunity of increasing the number of Christians."

Peter Sanz was among the first group of martyrs in Tonkin, which also included Bishop Francis Serrano, Father Joachim Royo, Father John Alcober, and Father Francis Diaz.

Peter Sanz was professed a Dominican at Lerida when he was 18 (1697). He was ordained in 1704, volunteered for the Chinese missions, and was sent to Manila, The Philippines, in 1713. After studying the language for two years, he entered China where he spent 31 years evangelizing the Chinese before he was captured. In 1730, he was nominated vicar apostolic of Fukien and titular bishop of Mauricastro. When a renewed persecution of Christians flared up in 1746, he was accused of breaking the laws by converting thousands to Christianity by a man to whom he had refused to lend money, according to one account.

The five men, bound together by their vows and their work, were brought more closely together during their imprisonment at Foochow. Fathers Serrano, Alcober, and Diaz were captured first, and tortured to reveal the whereabouts of Bishop Sanz. They did not break down, but the bishop and Father Royo, hearing about the torture, surrendered in the hope of sparing their brothers' suffering, says another account.

The five priests were dragged in chains to the emperor's court, where they were subjected to frightful torments. All of them, with a catechist named Ambrose Kou, were sentenced to death in December 1746. During the long imprisonment, a Dominican, Father Thomas Sanchez, managed to see them. He brought them some clothes and a little money, and all the news he could find.

On May 25, 1747, Bishop Sanz was beheaded at Fu-tsheu. Even the pagans were impressed with his gentle demeanor as he was led out to die, and a fellow prisoner who had been converted in prison, followed him closely through the mob, openly proclaiming his sanctity. As the headsman prepared to swing the axe, the venerable bishop looked at him and said, "Rejoice with me, my friend; I am going to heaven!"

"I wish I were going with you!" blurted out the unhappy man.

Laying his head upon the block, the bishop preached his last sermon: "If you want to save your soul, my friend, you must obey the law of God!" Pagan friends of the priests scurried through the crowd, gathering up the relics which they saved for the Christians. Many of these people, including the executioner, were later baptized.

On October 20, 1747, after the death of Sanz, word arrived that Father Serrano was had been appointed titular bishop of Tipsa and coadjutor to Blessed Peter Sanz. At that point, he and the others were summarily executed at Fukien (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy).


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).


Priscus (Prix) and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 272. Priscus, a Roman military officer, several soldiers under his command, and a number of citizens of Besançon were martyred under Aurelian near Auxerre, France, where they had hidden themselves from the persecution. The Martryology of Jerome mentions Priscus as a martyr and testifies to his early cultus. Their relics were discovered by Saint Germanus of Auxerre, who built churches in memory of them, which helped to diffuse the cultus (Benedictines, Farmer).


Quadratus the Apologist B (RM)
Died c. 130. Possibly a disciple of the apostles, Quadratus is believed to have been bishop of Athens. Eusebius calls him a man of God and testifies that he was endowed with an eminent gift of prophecy and that his words were confirmed by miracles. Quadratus is believed to have been the author of the first Christian apology- -a defense of Christianity addressed to Emperor Hadrian, which re- ignited the flames of faith that had been doused by intense persecution. This apologia has been lost (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).


Quadratus of Africa M (RM)
Date unknown. Quadratus, a martyr in proconsular Africa, was the subject of a panegyric sermon by Saint Augustine of Hippo (Benedictines).


Blessed Regintrudis of Nonnberg, OSB Abbess (AC)
Died c. 750. Fourth abbess of Nonnberg near Salzburg, Austria (Benedictines).


Simitrius and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 159. A band of 23 Roman martyrs, who were arrested while assembled for prayer in the titulus or church of Saint Praxedes. They were beheaded without a trial (Benedictines).


Zachary of Vienne BM (RM)
Died c. 160. Saint Zachary is said to have been the second bishop of Vienne in Gaul,and to have died a martyr under Trajan (Benedictines).



About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.