The Priestly Heart of the Virgin, St. Philip Neri 1515 – 1595

St. Philip Neri was from a noble family of Florence Italy.  He gave up a large inheritance to follow Jesus.  He was friends with St. Ignatius of Loyola.  And he wanted to go work for salvation of souls in India with St. Francis Xavier.  But his spiritual director told him that St. John the Evangelist had appeared to him and told him that Rome was to be his India. 

180_St. PhillipNeri_01He bagan the Brotherhood of the Little Oratory, where priest would pray, work and live together.  That is why he is said to have started the Oratorians.

He always maintained sexual innocence and his virginity.  But he was fiercely tempted by his flesh and the devil.  But he won these battles by fasting and beating himself with a chain.

He saw so many Catholics leaving the true Church of Jesus because of a falsified history of the Church (Magdeburg Centuries).  So he asked one of the Oratortians, Baronius, to write a true historical account of christianity.  It took him 30 years to write “Ecclesiastical Annals”.

The greatest miracle that happened to St. Philip was when God manifested His love to him.  “In the catacomb of St. Sebastian, St. Philip Neri kept the long vigils and there received many consolations.  A few days before Pentecost in 1544, the miracle of his heart took place. “While he was with the greatest earnestness asking of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and thereupon he was suddenly surprised with such a fire of love, that, unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, bared his breast to temper in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a violent tremour; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart, a swelling about as big as a man’s fist, but neither then nor afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain or wound.”8

 Tissue Around St. Philip Neri’s Heart

When the doctors examined his body after death, they discover that the saint’s heart had been dilated so much under this powerful impulse of love, that in order that it might have sufficient room to beat, two ribs had been miraculously broken and curved in the form of an arch.  His skin projected out, in his chest, about the size of a man’s fist.  From this time on, until his death, his heart would beat violently whenever he performed any spiritual action.

Once, when they thought that St. Philip was dying, Cardinal Baronius brought him Viaticum (Holy Communion, food for on the way through death to eternal life.  Via – way, cum -with, ti – you).  He showed this great love he felt from God and for God.  “Behold my Love, my Love! He comes, the only delight of my soul. Give me my Love quickly.”

He was often sick and another time when he was dying from a severe fever, Our Lady appeared and healed him.  He was heard to say; “O most holy Mother of God, what have I done that you should vouchsafe to come to me?”  And after the healing, he asked those who were with him; “Did not you see the Blessed Mother of God, who by her visit hath driven away my distemper?”

5St. Philip Neri’s Death Mask

He converted many men from a life of sin by getting them to:

1) Pray.

2) Reflect on death.

3) Meditate on a soul in hell.

4) Truly acknowledge the actual state of their soul.

5) Meditate on eternity,

6) Showing them the emptiness of sin.

7) Having them imagine a person dying, or a body lying in a grave.

7Crucifix St. Philip Neri Looked At As He Died

He could miraculously read the secrets of others hearts.  In particular, he could tell hidden sins of impurity by the stench which such sinners exhaled.   Several testified after his death that; “he perceived such a horrid stench coming from the person infected with this filthy vice, and said that he never found any thing so annoying as this.”

9Incorrupt Body of St. Philip Neri

After his death, a man with a loathsome running ulcer on his neck took the saints hand and touched it to the ulcer.  Immediately it was miraculously healed.  We need to remember that literally thousands and thousands of similar miracles have happened by the intercession to God by these saints.  So many people have had been healed by touching the bodies of God’s saints (Relics).  May St. Philip Neri and all the saints, do great miracles for us.  May we have faith in God, who does wondrous things through His holy people.

We are so fortunate to be traditional Catholics and have the lives of the saints to encourage us.  St. Philip Neri saw the evils in the Church and the world.  But he always stayed cheerful.  He is so well known for his joy and happiness.  May we who are so concerned about Holy Mother Church, also have his faith and trust so that we can be seen as filled with God’s love and joy no matter what is happening.