Apostle of Rome
St. Philip Neri is known chiefly as the founder of the Roman Congregation of the Oratory. This did not come about, however, by any human plan or mind, but only in the course of Providence, which waited for many years of Philip’s long life to accomplish this lasting work. Born on July 21, 1515, he grew up in Florence, where he was known as “Pippo Buono” – good little Philip – and was educated by the Dominican friars of San Marco. Even during those turbulent times for both his home city and for much of Europe, Philip managed to hear the call of God to something higher than the worldly success both his father’s and his uncle’s business may have promised him. By divine guidance he sought out Rome, and worked and carried on there for several years among the Romans and his fellow Florentines in such a way of holiness and inner joy as to lift their spirits in those dark hours. While Sts. Peter and Paul are the classic “Apostles of Rome,” Philip came to be considered the “second Apostle of Rome,” for the singular renewal God enacted there through him.