Saint Philip Neri

Born in 1515 in Florence as the son of a notary, St Philip was destined to go into business. After his conversion he decided to go to Rome and study theology and philosophy, after which he ministered as a layman, assisting pilgrims who had newly arrived in the city and patients in hospitals. In 1551 he was ordained as a priest; the meetings he had organized for secular priests and clerics in his mission-room developed into a community of secular priests, the Congregation of the Oratory in 1564 and originated a new type of spiritual music – the oratorio. Philip continued to receive both persons of importance as well as the poor, became an advisor to popes and cardinals, while remaining a very ordinary man; he refused to be made cardinal on a number of occasions, enjoyed jokes and anecdotes and composed songs for children. He died in 1595 and was canonized in 1622. He is the patron saint of humorists, helps to prevent infertility in women and diseases of the limbs and protects against earthquakes.


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