1515 AD (Florence, Italy) – 1595 AD (Rome, Italy)
If you had lived in Rome around five hundred years ago, you could have met a very funny and friendly man. At first he would have looked no different from any other pedestrian in that great city. But, as soon as you’d start talking to him, you’d realize that he was special and you’d feel as if you were talking to Jesus himself. Do you know anyone who makes you feel like that?
Saint Philip Neri had a great sense of humor, but was also a very smart and humble man. At first he didn’t want to become a priest, because he though of himself as unworthy of it and later in life, when the pope wanted to give him a great honor, he was very reluctant and only accepted it out of obedience.
What was most important to him was to bring Jesus to the people he met. When he first came to Rome, he started looking after the many poor street children. He’d play football with them, tell them entertaining stories and make sure that they felt Jesus’s love through him. He and his friends also looked after the many pilgrims who came to Rome every year and after the sick, who were well enough to leave hospital, but not well enough yet to go back to work. And Saint Philip did all of this with a big smile on his face! Shall we try that too?
“A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.”