St. Philip Neri was a Christian missionary who gave up his early life as businessman to dedicate his life to God. He founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers. St. Philip Neri is venerated as the patron of Rome, the US Special Forces, humor, and joy.. He was born on July 21, 1515 to a family of four children. At the age of 18, he was visiting a wealthy relative in hopes of inheriting the family business. However, it was here that he experienced a vision that changed his life. St. Philip Neri credits this encounter with God where he was called to live for and serve Jesus and the Church as the reason for his Christian conversion. Following this, Philip left Florence for Rome. He spent the following two years in solitary, dedicating a lot of time to prayer. After studying theology and philosophy at St. Augustine’s monastery, Philip set out to help the poor in Rome. He was known for his warm personality and sense of humor, spreading the love of God to every corner of Rome. He spent his days helping the needy, and spent the nights for praying. Philip who had accomplished so much was finally ordained to priesthood in 1551. He founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory to encourage his fellow pilgrims and other priests to deepen their faith, together. The organization was officially recognized by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575. Philip was described as "all things to all men.... When he was called upon to be merry, he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy, he was equally ready...”. Philip was respected and loved throughout Rome, a trusted advisor to popes, kings, cardinals and just as important to the poor. On May 25, 1595, Philip’s physician informed him of his crippling health. At midnight of May 26, he passed away at 80 years of age. St. Philip Neri was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen