St. Philip Neri

St. Philip worked in the Church in very difficult times. Through the Holy Spirit he brought about and extraordinary renewal of the Church, particularly in its very center, Rome. Even today St. Philip’s spirituality attracts the attention of seekers of God. Core of this spirituality focuses on an unpretentious return to the lifestyle of the first Disciples of Christ: a life of Gospel simplicity, authentic happiness, sincere love of one’s neighbor, and preferential love for the poor and emarginated. St. Philip was born with a very charming nature and a natural goodness filled with grace. He was known as Pippo Buono (Good Little Philip). His native city Florence endowed him with an instinct for democratic freedom. In the convent of San Marco he participated actively in the most beautiful liturgies of the time: songs, arts, preaching and symbolism. Near to Gaeta, Italy, there is unique wonder of the world, Montagna Spaccata (Split Montain). Contemplating the crevices of the mountain plunging into the Mediterranean Sea, his gaze was drawn toward infinite, filling him with mystery and immersing him in God. He never lost this sense of wonder. At Monte Cassino, the venerable Benedictine monastery, he discovers the secrets of governance and management of community life: living together bonded by love, governed by majority, in respect and harmony, and possessing all what is needed to be truly independent and self-sufficient. He comes to Rome only to find a city consumed by all sorts of vices, by poverty, misery, illness and abandonment. He sells everything he owns to help others. During the vigil of Pentecost in 1544, the Holy Spirit fills him with fire. His heart expands, divine love fills his heart. This constitutes the central event of Philip’s life: his Pentecost. Philip reflects on the difficult situation in which Christ’s Church struggles, and urged by the Spirit he initiates the great reform to bring the center of Christianity back to the original charism of the first Christians “who had but one heart and one soul”, his humble contribution to reform the evangelical spirit and Christian life.