Neri, Saint Donna Filippo

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Neri, Saint Donna Filippo

Neri, Saint Donna Filippo, outstanding Roman Catholic churchman; b. Florence, July 21, 1515; d. Rome, May 26, 1595. He was educated in Florence, and by 1534 was in Rome. In 1548 he founded the Confraternità della Ss. Trinita, and in 1551 he took Holy Orders. He began giving lectures on religious subjects and holding spiritual exercises in his living quarters at S. Girolamo della Carità in 1552; by 1554 he was active in the oratory of the church there. These meetings invariably ended with the singing of hymns, or laudi spirituali, for which the poet Ancina wrote many of the texts, while Giovanni Animuccia, maestro di cappella at the Vatican and music director of the Oratory, set them to music. In 1575 the Congregation of the Oratory, as a seminary for secular priests, was officially recognized by Pope Gregory XIII, and in 1578 the Congregation transferred its headquarters to the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella. Neri, however, remained at S. Girolamo until 1583; Victoria lived with him there, serving as chaplain. Neri was also a friend and spiritual adviser of Palestrina. From the musical practice of the Oratory there eventually developed the form that we know as “oratorio.” It was not until about 1635–40 that this form actually began to receive the title of oratorio, from the place where the performances were given. Neri was beatified on May 25, 1615, and canonized on March 12, 1622.


P. Bacci, Vita di S.F. N., fiorentino (Rome, 1622; Eng. tr., 2 vols., 1903); L. Ponnelle and L. Bourdet, Saint Philippe Néri et la société romaine de son temps (1515–1595) (Paris, 1918; Eng. tr., 1932); G. Incisa della Rocchetta and N. Vian, eds., Il primo processo per S.F. N. nel codice vaticano latino 3789e in altri esemplari delVarchivo dell’Oratorio di Roma, Studi e Testi, CXCI, CXCVI, CCV, CCXXIV (Rome, 1957–63); M. Trevor, Apostle of Rome: A Life of Philip N., 1515–1595 (London, 1966).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire