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Religious Figure Facts: St. Philip Neri , The Oratory

Philip was ordained a deacon in 1551 after he passed all the minor orders. On May 23, he was given the title of ‘priest.’ In this article, you are introduced to Philip’s Oratory, which focused on prayers, hymns, and readings from Scripture, but also pushed the envelope of religious preaching in his time.

16) At one point in time, Philip wished to travel to India as a missionary, but his friends convinced him to remain in Rome, as there was too much work to be done in the city.

17) After deciding not to travel to India, Philip chose to settle down with a few friends at a hospital named San Girolamo della Carita. This would mark the path to the naming of the Oratory, for which he is most connected to.

18) Philip’s Oratory started out with a few evening meetings in a hall. Participants were treated to prayers, hymns, and readings from Scripture. Lectures and religious discussions also took place. Musical selections were chosen based upon their connections to scenes linked to sacred history. These were called oratorios. Later on, members of the society would embrace religious mission throughout Rome. This included the preaching of sermons that took place in the evening. The members would visit many different churches about the city , an idea that had not been done before.

19) In 1564, the Florentines asked Philip to leave San Girolamo so that he could supervise their church in Rome, called the San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. At the time, it was a brand new structure. Philip expressed apprehension, but with the blessing of Pope Pius IV, he took on the challenge. However, he was allowed to still continue his charge of San Girolamo. The activities of the Oratory did not cease.

20) In 1577, a new church was consecrated, where Philip organized another society comprised of secular priests that would become a part of the Congregation of the Oratory. He took on the role of the superior, after he was first elected for a term of three years. In 1587, he was nominated superior for life. It was Philip’s wish that the congregations that formed would be able to govern on their own. He had no desire to take on the responsibility of ‘general.’

Maxims of St Philip Neri  

A maxim is an expression of a general truth or principle, and St Philip Neri had a great deal attributed to him, including those listed below:

One of the very best means of obtaining humility, is sincere and frequent confession.

·    Men are generally the carpenters of their own crosses.

·    When a scrupulous person has once made up his mind that he has not consented to a temptation, he must not reason the matter over again to see whether he has really consented or not, for the same temptations often return by making this sort of reflections.

·    A virtuous life consists in mortifying vices, sins, bad thoughts, and evil affections, and in exercising ourselves in the acquisition of holy virtues.

·    Let us be humble and keep ourselves down:- Obedience! Humility! Detachment!