Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. At the age of 18, Philip was sent to his uncle, Romolo, a wealthy merchant at San Germano, a Neapolitan town near the base of Monte Cassino, to assist him in his business, and with the hope that he might inherit his uncle’s fortune. He gained Romolo’s confidence and affection, but soon after coming to San Germano Philip had a religious conversion. From then onward, he no longer cared for things of the world, and decided in 1533 to live in Rome.
While in Rome, he studied philosophy and theology, and tutored young boys. Eventually Philip became bored of learning, so he sold all of his books, gave the money he received from them to the poor, and visited the sick under the guidance of the Augustinians.
Later, he co-founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity and began to preach, and many people converted thanks to Philip’s preaching and example. He was ordained in 1551.
Many people came to him for confession. He also began to work with youth. Pope Gregory XIV wanted to make Philip a cardinal, but the priest declined.
He then founded the Congregation of the Oratory, also known as the Oratorians, dedicated to preaching and teaching, and they still exist today.
He died May 27, 1595, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. He is the patron of Rome and the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Catholic News Agency