Acts 20.17-27; Psalm 67; John 17.1-11
St Philip Neri (1515-95) was born in Florence but spent most of his life in Rome, where in the catacombs in 1544 he had a mystical experience when he ‘felt himself divinely filled with the power of the Spirit.’ He has been called the ‘Second Apostle of Rome’ (after St Peter) because of his foundation of a society for secular clergy (i.e., those not in religious orders) known as the Congregation of the Oratory. He was noted for his work among the sick and the poor of the city, and with prostitutes.
The Oratory began as a series of evening meetings with hymns, prayers, readings from Scripture and the Church fathers, and a lecture on some theological question. The movement grew and attracted adherents from every class of society. St Philip (whom Pope St John
Paul II termed ‘the apostle of joy’) had an easy, conversational manner. Fr Frederick Faber, C.O. (1814-63), the founder of the London Oratory, considered St Philip ‘emphatically a modern gentleman … acquainted with what was going on in the world and taking a real interest in it.’
St Philip died on 25th May 1595, the Feast of Corpus Christi that year, after a day of hearing confessions and receiving visitors.