Filippo De' Neri (commonly called in English St. Philip Neri), a saint of the Roman Catholic church, born in Florence in July, 1515, died in Rome, May 26, 1595. He was the adopted heir of a rich uncle, but secretly left his house and went to Koine, and while fulfilling there the duties of tutor studied philosophy, theology, and canon law. In 1538 he sold all that he possessed, distributed the proceeds among the poor, and devoted himself to serving the sick in the hospitals and the pilgrims who flocked to Rome. He founded, with the help of Ignatius Loyola, a guild of nobles, to provide hospitality for pilgrims, and obtain lodging and work for destitute young people, in June, 1551, he received holy orders, took up his abode in the monastery of San Girolamo, and gave his whole time to instructing youth and children. Several young clerics joined him in this labor, and stationed themselves each morning and evening on Sundays and festivals before the door of some church, rang a bell to attract the crowd, sang psalms and hymns, or persuaded people to enter the chapel. To make these assemblies more attractive, he invited the most eloquent men to preach, and the best singers and musicians volunteered their services. He had dramas, with music, on Scriptural subjects, performed in an adjoining monastery.
The efforts of the guild were next directed to securing permanent employment for the reclaimed. The aid of such companions as Baronius and Salviati, afterward cardinals, enabled Philip to found a society of priests, called from their prayer meetings and sacred concerts "the Priests of the Oratory," which soon had branches in many cities. This foundation was approved by Gregory XIII. in 1575. (See Oratorians.) Philip was canonized in 1022 by Gregory XV., and his feast is celebrated on May 20. His literary remains consist of letters, poems, and advice to youth. - See F. W. Faber, "Spirit and Genius of St. Philip Neri" (London, 1850).