This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26 -- St. Philip Neri

May 18 was the feast of St. Felix of Cantalice, whose very good friend and colleague in street preaching was St. Philip Neri. St. Felix was sometimes a Clown for Christ, sporting a goofy haircut or aping around the streets to get attention before launching into serious preaching. Philip too enjoyed joking, using humor to teach lessons of faith and humility. In the picture at right, he is holding a small dog that he stole from one of the cardinals. When wealthy aristocrats turned to him for guidance, he made them take the dog for a walk before helping them so they could learn some humility.

Speaking of cardinals, Philip was offered a red cap, but declined. Turning down a bishopric seems pretty common, almost an obligatory sign of humility that was more often than not followed by insistence that one take the job. Turning down a cardinalship, however, is the real deal. They don't ask again, and you walk away from all the power and privilege that the Church has to offer.

Philip came to the priesthood at the relatively late age of thirty-five, having received a vision of a burning globe that enlarged his heart when he swallowed it. [Insert middle-age crisis / heartburn joke here.] He had a mind to preach in India, but another vision told him that Rome needed him more. The Eternal City had already become the cesspool of corruption that was to disgust Martin Luther so; Philip's preaching earned him the designation "Apostle of Rome," an ironic name since Rome of all places should not have needed evangelization. (Yeah, I made that word up.)

Philip is the patron of the US Army Special Forces. According to a website explaining the St. Philip Neri Award Program, "St. Philip Neri was selected as the Patron Saint of Special Forces because he embodied the traits of the ideal Special Forces Soldier, Selfless, Superb Teacher, and Inspirational Leader."


  1. A better reason why St. Phillip Neri is the Patron Saint of US Army Special Forces is because he was one of the leaders of the counter-reformation (countering Martin Luther's Reformation) and counter-insurgency is the Special Forces' raison d'ĂȘtre (reason for being).

    1. That's interesting information, and I was looking for something that explained it more. Thank you, and God bless.