On March 12th, 1622, Pope Gregory canonized Philip Neri, along with Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila and Isidore the Farmer – or, as the Oratorian joke goes, ‘four Spaniards and a saint’. But in all saintly seriousness, these five signify an era of great holiness, offering a spiritual foundation for the modern world that was then coming to be: Jesuits, Carmelites, Oratorians and Isidore, a layman. Saint John Henry Newman – himself an Oratorian – wrote an insightful essay (which I will post if I can find it) on the contrast, and complementarity, between the way of Saint Ignatius and that of Saint Philip, who knew each other during their lives. The motto of the former is ad maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God – while that of Saint Philip is amare nesciri – love to be unknown. Ignatius wanted Philip to join his fledgling ‘company’, but the future ‘apostle of Rome’ knew that his vocation, and those called to his own more unique path – even if he did once desire to go to the ‘Indies’ to offer his life for Christ – was not there, even if he spiritually directed those who did enter the Jesuits. Ignatius called him a ‘tolling bell’, calling others to missionary work’.
This day marks the close of the 400 hundredth year of their canonization, with a special indulgence offered by the Oratorians for visiting one of their houses.
We may pray to these five great saints, to discover and to persevere in whatever path we are or have been called, an so give glory to God, and meet them in heaven when our own work and earthly pilgrimage are done. +