Saints & Sacraments: St. Philip Neri, a patron for Confirmation

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Italian priest Philip Neri had a deep devotion to the Holy Spirit. One evening while praying in the catacombs of Rome, he experienced a personal Pentecost. The Holy Spirit entered his heart and filled him with the love of God and immense joy.

Empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Philip Neri brought the people of 16th-century Rome back to the faith. Today the Holy Spirit continues to enrich and renew the Church.

Philip Neri’s life

PHILIP NERI (1515-1595)
Feast day: May 26
Patron saint of joy, Rome, and U.S. Army Special Forces

Many citizens of Rome had grown indifferent to the Catholic faith and were in need of spiritual renewal. Philip Neri, a layman, possessed a burning desire to share his love of God. His cheerfulness, joy, and friendliness won him friends and followers throughout the city.

He invited groups of men to join him in works of charity. Together they helped the poor
and cared for the sick in hospitals. Philip Neri guided people back to the faith by his witness
and encouragement.

After being ordained a priest, Philip Neri brought more souls back to God through his preaching and the sacraments. He is known as the “saint of joy” and the “apostle of Rome.”

Saint activities

■ Do you radiate joy to others? Follow St. Philip Neri’s example by being cheerful and joyful!
■ Read Pope Francis’ letter The Joy of the Gospel.
■ Celebrate Philip Neri’s feast day, May 26. Plan a picnic with friends, play games, laugh, and have fun!

The sacrament of Confirmation

A Sacrament of Initiation, Confirmation seals us with the gift of the Holy Spirit we received at Baptism. Confirmation strengthens us to witness and defend the faith. It leaves an indelible spiritual mark on our soul to show we belong to Christ and the Church.

Candidates select the name of a saint who inspires them to live a life of holiness. They also choose a sponsor to support them on their journey of faith.

A bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation. During the Rite of Confirmation, candidates renew their baptismal promises. They receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the laying on of hands and are anointed with sacred chrism, a holy oil.

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit — wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge,
piety, and fear of the Lord — help us to live as disciples of Jesus.

Sacrament activities

■ Read the account of the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). How did the Holy Spirit empower them in their ministry?
■ Pray to the Holy Spirit, asking for his gifts and graces.
■ Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. How do you recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit in others? How do you use your gifts?

At-home activities

Volunteer together as a family for a parish- or community-sponsored service project.

Philip spent many hours in prayer each day. Parents: Pray with your family at dinner and before bedtime. Bless your children. Trace the sign of the cross on their forehead and say, “God bless you.”


Barbara Yoffie, MRE, is a director of religious education and saint enthusiast. She is the author of the Saints and Me! series from Liguori Publications.

This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, October 2019


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