Thursday, 25 January 2007

The saintly student

Reading Antonio Gallonio's Life of St Philip Neri this morning, I came across this wonderful description of our Holy Father's life as a student, and thought I would share it with you:

"While Philip was occupied in his secular education, he did associate with his fellow students from time to time, and had long discussions and arguments with them about obscure points of natural science, but he was at the same time extraordinarily fond of being alone, and spent long periods in nightly vigil. As Saint Paul recommends, he discerned the invisible things of God through the means of visible things, and scrutinised His eternal power and divinity to the furthest extent possible for a mortal man doomed to die.
He often did the round of the Seven Churches of Rome, with no one to keep him company: these churches were the ones most distinguished for their liturgyand the indulgences granted by the Popes...Whenever an opportunity occurred to curb the irrational desires and longings of his mind, he seized upon it eagerly, striving always to gain mastery over himself. That is why he was always advising his sons to try to conquer themsleves even in the most trivial matters , if they wanted to be able to overcome in the greater struggles."

This is thought to be the earliest known life of St Philip, and is a fairly recent translation by Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory (it is also the first English translation). The Life of St Philip Neri is published by Family Publications, Oxford. Warmly recommended!

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