Saint Philip Neri

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By Catholic Digest Staff

Saint Philip Neri
Feast Day: May 26


Known for his wisdom, spontaneity, and extraordinary sense of humor, Philip Neri is a perfect fit for being the patron saint of joy. As a young boy growing up in Florence during the 1500s, he developed a delightful sense of humor. Aside from laughter, Philip also enjoyed praying to God and turned away from worldly success as a teenager to embrace the Lord. His favorite time to pray was at night, when he walked the streets and meditated in churches and catacombs. One evening he experienced a ball of pure light enter his heart, and was filled with energy to do God’s work. He served at the hospital of the incurables and spoke to everyone he met about the Lord. In 1551 he was ordained, and young men sought him out for his wise counseling. Soon large crowds of youths gathered, regarding him as a spiritual role model. Philip and a fellow priest built an Oratory to meet with the crowds, and created structured discussions. At Carnival time, to keep the youths away from the sinful celebration, Philip organized a pilgrimage to the Seven Churches complete with a picnic and music. Among his many spiritual talents, his ability to bring people to God and instill humility in them was remarkable. Philip was known for using practical jokes and even played jokes on himself. The more reputable he became for his holiness, the more silly and light-hearted he acted. One thing he did take seriously was the hours he spent in prayer, and he always received distressed individuals who sought his advice. When people asked him how to pray he replied, “Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you.”

Catholic Digest Staff