St. Philip Neri (1515-1595)
Feast Day: May 26
Canonization: March 12, 1622
Known as “The Third Apostle of Rome,” St. Philip Neri is among the great saints of the Counter Reformation, best known for founding the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of teaching priests.
He was born in Tuscany into a noble Florentine family, and as a youth moved to Rome after a mystical experience caused him to lose interest in worldly ideals. There he studied under the Augustinians and ministered to the sick, poor, and outcast.
Following years of lay apostolic labor, Philip became a priest in 1551. Five years later, he founded the Oratory, developed from a series of evening catechetical conferences hosted by its priest-members throughout Rome – which became known all over Italy.
Philip’s humility and humor spurred his friendships with Ignatius of Loyola, Pius V, and Charles Borromeo. He died at age 80, on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1595, after hearing confessions. Pope Paul V beatified him in 1615. Seven years later, Pope Gregory XV canonized him. He is patron of Rome, humor, joy, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the United States Special Forces.