On May 26th, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Philip Neri, who said, "Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always be in good spirits."
Download a primary activity in English or Spanish to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Philip Neri.
Philip Neri was born on July 22, 1515. He lived during the Renaissance, a resurgence of learning, affecting philosophical thought, science and art. This was also a time of great exploration of the world. His life and work coincided with the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther. At a time when the Catholic Church was embattled in the Reformation, Philip Neri achieved a spiritual renewal in the Church’s capital city of Rome. He has been called both the “Apostle of Rome” and the “saint of joy.”
Philip Neri was well-liked because he was gentle, kind, and had a warm personality. He had a wonderful sense of humor and used this gift when helping others.
He was well-liked because he was gentle, kind, and had a warm personality. He had a wonderful sense of humor and used this gift when helping others. His two favorite books were the Bible and a joke book. He used his gifts of charm and humor to teach others about Jesus. He shared joy and kindness with the poor and helped them find food and homes.
In 1544, Phlip Neri had a mystical experience while praying in the Catacombs of San Sebastian. A globe of fire miraculously entered his chest and enlarged his heart, breaking his ribs. This experience changed him for life.
Even before he became a priest in 1551, Philp Neri increased the faith of many He spent seventeen years serving as a layman in Rome before being officially ordained. Though he was well known for his cheerfulness, he was a serious preacher and a confessor.
As a priest, Phililp Neri began the Congregation of the Oratory in 1575. This group, dedicated to preaching and teaching, was also known as the Oratorians. The Oratorians are still active today. A famous Oratorian, Cardinal John Henry Newman, described the approach that Philip Neri employed in inspiring so many people from so many walks of life: “cor ad cor loquitor” or, in English, “heart speaks to heart.”
Philip died after a long illness, in May of 1595. The entire city of Rome mourned. Because of Philip, many people's faith was increased. Philip Neri was beatified in 1615 by Paul V and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV.
Philip used humor to solve many problems and to help other people. We can follow his example and use joy and humor to help others.
Philip Neri also began a tradition that continues today. He organized and led walks to important Churches in the city. These walks included music, singing, and laughter and drew many people.. Through these little pilgrimages, people of all ages visited important churches in the city while they connected with each other and strengthened their faith.
Philip used humor to solve many problems and to help other people. We can follow his example and use joy and humor to help others. Download a primary activity in English or Spanish to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Philip Neri.
Looking for more resources about popular saints for kids? Check out our free printables in the Sadlier Religion Catechetical Resource center.