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Why St. Philip Neri is called the Apostle of Rome

saint Philip Neri

Didier Descouens | CC BY-SA 4.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/26/22

St. Philip Neri lived in the 16th century. He is known as the Apostle of Rome, called by God to evangelize the Eternal City.

St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, and later in life felt called to become the Apostle of Rome.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Philip Neri renounced his family’s nobility and felt called by God to go to Rome.

[H]e would often withdraw for prayer to a little mountain chapel belonging to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, built above the harbor of Gaeta in a cleft of rock which tradition says was among those rent at the hour of Our Lord’s death. It was here that his vocation became definite: he was called to be the Apostle of Rome. In 1533 he arrived in Rome without any money. He had not informed his father of the step he was taking, and he had deliberately cut himself off from his kinsman’s patronage.

Initially St. Philip spent his ministry in Rome as a layman, organizing local groups and leading others in prayer.

After 17 years in Rome as a layman, he began to doubt his vocation. This led to a heavenly vision that confirmed his apostolate.

In 1550 a doubt occurred to him as to whether he should not discontinue his active work and retire into absolute solitude. His perplexity was set at rest by a vision of St. John the Baptist, and by another vision of two souls in glory, one of whom was eating a roll of bread, signifying God’s will that he should live in Rome for the good of souls as though he were in a desert, abstaining as far as possible from the use of meat.

St. Philip was eventually ordained a priest and surrounded himself with a group of disciples who would later become the Brothers of the Little Oratory.

He remained in Rome for the rest of his life, and his example of holiness affected many in the city, later earning him the title of Apostle of Rome.

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