Filippo och Anden

I år sammanfaller början av pingstnovenan med den helige Filippo Neris festdag. Han dog 26 maj 1595 och är en fantastisk bekantskap som jag rekommenderar varmt. Citaten nedan kommer från Giacomo Pietro Baccis biografi över helgonet, skriven några decennier efter hans död.

‘One night the Saint was near S. Sebastian’s, at the place called Capo di Bove; he was alone, walking and praying as he walked, which was his usual custom: before him he saw three demons of horrible shapes endeavouring to frighten him and hinder his devotions; but he made game of them, and pursuing his way without further notice of them, they disappeared. Philip had other combats and temptations, while he was leading this solitary life, but, like a good soldier of Christ, he came victorious out of all of them’

‘This mode of life Philip adhered to for a long time; and when he was twenty-nine years old God gave him, among other graces, a miraculous palpitation of the heart, and a no less wonderful fracture of his ribs, which happened as follows: One day a little before the feast of Whitsuntide [Pingstdagen], he was making his accustomed prayer to the holy Ghost, for whom he had such a devotion, that he daily poured out before him most fervent prayers, imploring His gifts and graces. When he was made priest, he always said at mass, unless the rubric forbid it, the prayer Deus cui omne cor patet [O God, to whom every heart is open, every wish is spoken, and from whom no secret is hidden, purify our inmost thoughts by the infusion of Thy Holy Spirit; that we may love Thee perfectly and praise Thee worthily]. Now, while he was importunately demanding of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to the saint a ball of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and therewith he was, all suddenly, surprised by such a flame of love, that he was unable to bear it, and threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, he bared his breast, to abate in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of an unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a vehement tremour; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart a tumour about as big as a man’s fist, but neither then nor over afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain.’

‘Marcello Ferro, a Roman cleric of noble family, and who enjoyed a rich benefice in Rome, used to dress in coloured clothes like a layman, and with great show of vanity. In the cloister of the Minerva he saw a young man who was one of Philip’s penitents; the youth, entering into conversation with him, said to him, “One Father Philip from San Girolamo is in the habit of coming here to vespers and compline; O if you were but to speak to him, what a happy thing it would be for you.” The cleric, moved by God, believed the young man’s words, and prayed him with much importunity to introduce him to Philip. Meanwhile the Saint entered the church with Giovanni Battista Salviati, Costanzo Tassone, Giovanni Animuccia, and others of his own people. Marcello following them, saw that Philip, as soon as ever he knelt down, covered his face with his hands and began weeping, and that he trembled (in his usual way) during the whole of compline, which made him wonder exceedingly. When compline was over he had a long conversation with Philip, who invited him to San Girolamo to hear the sermons. The good father knew well enough that he was a cleric, yet for the fifteen or sixteen days that he was continually coming to him, he never gave him the least reprimand for dressing in that style; but simply endeavoured by prayer and other means to breed real compunction in him. After that time, the young man, becoming ashamed of his dress, discontinued it of his own accord, and made a general confession, during which Philip kept his eyes fixed on heaven, and trembling in his usual manner, disclosed to the young man the secrets of his heart, and manifested to him his sins as plainly as the penitent could disclose them himself, and before giving him absolution he fell upon his neck, and said, “O my son, do not resist the Holy Ghost; God wishes to save you.” Marcello gave himself up entirely to the holy father, and became one of his most intimate and favourite penitents.’

‘One of his penitents once asked him to teach him how to pray: he replied, “Be humble and, obedient, and the Holy Ghost will teach you.” To those who were beginners in the spiritual life, he used to recommend the perusal of devout books and Lives of the Saints as a good help in prayer, adding, however, that they were not to read out of curiosity, or in a hurry, but with pauses, and a little at a time, stopping awhile whenever they found themselves moved to compunction or devotion. He said that in prayer we ought to obey the Spirit of God, and follow His motions, whatever our own previous purpose might have been; and when, for example, He draws us to meditate on the Passion, we ought not to desire to meditate on some other mystery.’

‘When S. Francesca Romana was canonized in 1608, a poor woman, named Maria della Volta, who had often received great alms from Philip, went into S. Peter’s, and calling him to mind, she burst into tears and cried out, “And when will my Father Philip be canonized? for if Santa Francesca carried wood upon her head to give alms of it to the poor, my Father Philip has countless times come to my house with his bosom loaded with bread, and I know too how he carried wine, and oil, and other things to many poor people.”

In speaking of this poor Maria della Volta, I must not omit to mention, that Philip taught her, her mother, and several others to say forty-nine Paters and Aves devoutly every day in honour of the Holy Ghost, from Holy Saturday to Whitsuntide; and he said it was a most excellent devotion for obtaining favours from God. He taught the same poor woman mental prayer, though the task required no little patience and charitable perseverance. He accomplished it by showing her how to take the Lord’s Prayer to pieces, and pause on each of the words or petitions, considering first of all what a thing it was to have God for her Father in heaven, and so on through the rest of the prayer; and after this he gave her a rosary-book, to enable her to learn how to meditate on the Passion.’

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