Oratorian Saints

Saint Philip Neri

Rome in the 1530s was a city struggling to recover after the sack of 1527, a place of poverty, material, moral and spiritual. In particular, the clergy were at a low ebb, often living and behaving disreputably.

By the end of the century, all this had changed, and this was largely through the work of St Philip Neri.Philip came to be known as the ‘Apostle of Rome’, but was born in Florence in 1515. Turning his back on a career in business with his uncle in Monte Cassino, he arrived in Rome in 1535, a city where, apparently, he had no prospects and knew nobody. So how did he come to wield the influence he ultimately did? He started his life in Rome teaching the two sons of a Florentine compatriot, in return for a room and food, and a place to study.

This allowed him the time and freedom for his intense life of prayer to grow. He used to spend many hours, even whole nights praying, sometimes in church porches, sometimes in the catacombs of San Sebastiano outside the city. It was here, on Pentecost Sunday in 1544, that Philip experienced his own Pentecost. As he reluctantly confided many years later, it appeared to him that a globe of fire had descended from heaven and penetrated his heart, so that for the rest of his life he could feel it palpitating, throbbing with divine Love. An examination after his death confirmed his heart to be abnormally large, so much so that it had forced two ribs apart to make space for it.

Philip’s prayer bore practical as well as spiritual fruit. ‘When shall we begin to do good?’, he used to say, and, over the years he gathered together a group of people who, after meeting Philip, did indeed want to do something worthwhile. A particular area where help was badly needed was in the grim hospitals of Rome, where patients were dependent on volunteers for basic nursing, cleaning and food. In the Jubilee year of 1550, many poor pilgrims made their way to Rome, and Philip and his companions in what they called the Confraternity of the Holy Trinity made it their business to care for their needs too. That year, Philip was persuaded — somewhat reluctantly — to be ordained a priest, which duly happened on 23rd May 1551. After this, he found a home at the church of San Girolamo della Carita, where he and his companions used to meet informally for prayer, discussion, and recreation together, before going off to minister to the needy. Soon, large crowds were coming to these gatherings, so Philip devised a pattern for them: four talks, some music, and vocal prayers. And so what we would recognise today as the Oratory was born.

Philip’s success aroused jealousy in some quarters: he and the Oratory were subjected to more than their fair share of suspicions and difficulties, but throughout it all he remained faithful to his own advice, non dubitare, ‘don’t worry’, confident that God, who had begun the good work in him, would bring it to completion. And his trust paid off: a rather dilapidated church, Santa Maria in Vallicella, was given to the Oratory by the Pope, and it was rebuilt on a grand scale: even today, it is still known as the Chiesa Nuova, the New Church. Some of Philip’s companions had been ordained to assist him in his ministry, and together they were organised into the Congregation of the Oratory.

St Philip died on 25th May 1595. By that time, he had become the friend and confessor of countless people, including Popes and Cardinals (and had himself refused a Cardinal’s hat). He used, even in old age, to spend many hours in the confessional, bringing pardon and peace to all who came to him: his penances were perfectly suited to the needs of his penitents, and never harsher than they could bear. He was always available to those in need, and used to say that the porter’s bell was to him like the voice of God. He saw what others might regard as these distractions from prayer as ‘leaving Christ for Christ’. Above all, perhaps, he is known for his joy in the service of Christ: the attractive character of the ‘Saint of Joy’ brought people flocking to him, and through him to a renewed vigour in faith. His practical jokes and eccentricities were many: whether he was sending the future Cardinal Baronius to taste countless different wines before buying the smallest amount possible of one, organising a procession of noblemen carrying pots and pans through the streets to the Chiesa Nuova, or shaving off half his beard, his aim was simple: to change Rome for the better, to draw everyone he could closer to Christ, to allow others to share in something of that joy which he himself experienced.

O God, you do not cease to exalt your faithful servants with the glory of holiness: mercifully grant that the Holy Spirit may inflame us with the same fire that miraculously penetrated the heart of your priest Saint Philip. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Luigi Scrosoppi

  • Born on August 4, 1804 in Udine, Italy
  • Died on April 3, 1881 (aged 79) in Udine, Italy
  • Founded the Sisters of Providence in 1845
  • Became an Oratorian in 1846
  • Elected Provost on November 9, 1856
  • Beatified on October 4, 1981 by Pope John Paul II in Rome
  • Canonized on June 10, 2001 by Pope John Paul II in Rome
  • Feast day on October 5
Saint Joseph Vaz

  • Born on April 21, 1651 in Benaulim, Goa (Portuguese Empire)
  • Became an Oratorian on September 25, 1685
  • Died on January 16, 1711 (aged 59) in Kandy, Kingdom of Kandy
  • Beatified on January 21, 1995 in Sri Lanka by Pope John Paul II
  • Canonized on January 14, 2015 in Sri Lanka by Pope Francis
  • Feast day on January 16
Blessed John Henry Newman

  • Born in London on February 21, 1801
  • Ordained an Anglican priest on May 29, 1825
  • Received into the Roman Catholic Church on October 9, 1845
  • Ordained a Roman Catholic priest on May 30, 1847
  • Became an Oratorian in 1848 and on February 2, 1848 established the first English Oratory
  • Created Cardinal on May 12, 1879 by Pope Leo XIII
  • Died on August 11, 1890 (aged 89) in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  • Beatified on September 19, 2010 in Birmingham, England by Pope Benedict XVI
  • Feast day on October 9
Blessed Salvio Huix Miralpeix

  • Born on December 22, 1877 in S. Margherita di Vellors (Gerona)
  • Ordained a priest on September 19, 1903
  • Became an Oratorian in 1907 in the Vic Oratory (Catalonia, Spain)
  • Appointed bishop of Ibiza on April 28, 1927
  • Transferred on January 29, 1935 to the diocese of Lerida
  • Beatified in Tarragona, Spain on October 13, 2013
  • The first Oratorian martyr
  • Feast day on November 6
Blessed Sebastian

  • Born on March 9, 1629 in Verduno, Italy
  • Joined the Oratory of Turin on May 26, 1651
  • Ordained a priest on February 24, 1652
  • The Turin Oratory possess some 22 volumes of his writings.
  • Died on January 30, 1711 in Turin, Italy
  • Beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on August 31, 1834
  • Feast day on January 30
Blessed Antony Grassi

  • Born in Fermo, Italy on November 13, 1592
  • Became an Oratorian on October 11, 1609
  • Ordained a priest on December 17, 1617
  • Elected Provost in the Oratory of Fermo in 1635
  • Died on December 13, 1671
  • Beatified by Pope Leo XIII on September 30, 1900
  • Feast day on December 15
Blessed Juvenal Ancina

  • Born in Fossano in 1552
  • Became an Oratorian in 1575
  • Ordained a priest on June 4, 1583
  • He is the first Oratorian indicated in the book of ordinations of the diocese of Rome as belonging to the Congregation of the Oratory.
  • Died in Fossano on April 4, 1638
Venerable Cesare Baronius

  • Born in Sora, Italy on October 30, 1538
  • Ordained a priest on May 27, 1564 in S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini
  • Succeeded Saint Philip Neri as superior in 1593
  • Wrote the twelve volumes “The Ecclesiastical Annals”, which established Baronius as the Father of modern Church history.
  • Created Cardinal on June 5, 1596 by Pope Clement VIII
  • Died on June, 30 1607 (aged 68) in Rome, Italy
  • Declared Venerable on January 12, 1745 by Pope Benedict XIV
  • Feast day on January 12


Other Oratorian Saints

Saint Francis of Sales:

  • Born on August 21, 1567
  • Died on December 28, 1622 (aged 55)
  • Ordained a priest on December 18, 1593
  • Beatified on January 8, 1661 by Pope Alexander VII
  • Canonized on April 8, 1665 by Pope Alexander VII
  • Proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1887 by Leo XIII
  • Feast day on January 24.
  • Founded and first Provost of the Oratory in Thonon, France erected by Pope Clement VIII with the Bull “Redemptoris et Salvatoris nostri” in 1598


Venerable Francesco Maria Cardinal Tarugi:

  • Born on August 25, 1525 in Montepulciano, Italy
  • Attended the exercises of the Oratory in 1565
  • Ordained a priest in 1571
  • Consecrated Archbishop of Avignone on December 22, 1592
  • Created cardinal on June 4, 1596 by Pope Clement VIII
  • Died on June 11, 1608


Venerable Giovanni Matteo Ancina:

  • Born in Fossano in 1552
  • Became an Oratorian in 1575
  • Ordained a priest on June 4, 1583
  • He is the first Oratorian indicated in the book of ordinations of the diocese of Rome as belonging to the Congregation of the Oratory.
  • Died in Fossano on April 4, 1638


Venerable Father Bartolomeo de Quental:

  • Born on August 23, 1626 in Fenaes (Azores Archipelago), Portugal
  • Ordained a priest in Lisbon in 1652
  • Founded of the Oratory in Portugal
  • As a missionary, he was present at the Congregation of the Oratory of Pernambuco (Brazil) and Goa (India).
  • Died in Lisbon on December 21, 1698


Venerable Father Giovanni Battista Trona:

  • Born in Frabosa Soprana on October 18, 1682
  • Ordained a priest on September 19, 1705
  • Became an Oratorian in 1720
  • Died on December 13, 1750, in the house of the Oratory
  • Declared Venerable on May 15, 1927


Servant of God Fr. Giorgio Guzzetta:

  • Born in Piana dei Greci on April 23, 1682
  • Entered in the Congregation of the Oratory in Palermo
  • Ordained a priest in December 1706
  • Founded the Congregation of the Oratory in Piana in 1716
  • Died on November 21, 1756 in Palermo


Servant of God Fr. Marco Antonio Ribaudengo:

  • Born in Trapani on November 1, 1703
  • Became an Oratorian in 1727
  • Died on August 7, 1764


Servant of God Fr. Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro:

  • Born in Mexico City on August 25, 1709
  • Entered in the Congregation of the Oratory on May 26, 1730
  • Ordained a priest in San Miguel de Allende in 1740
  • Died on March 22, 1776
  • The process for canonization began in 1864


Venerable Fr. Ignazio Capizzi:

  • Born in Bronte, on the slopes of Etna, in 1708
  • Ordained a priest in 1736
  • Father Ignazio Capizzi, whose heroic virtues were recognized in 1858, and which Blessed Pius IX defined as “the Saint Philip Neri of Sicily”, is one of the protagonists of the religious history of Palermo in the eighteenth century.
  • Died on September 27, 1783 in Palermo


Servant of God Fr. Emilio Venturini (1842-1905):

  • Became an Oratorian in 1858
  • Ordained a priest in 1864
  • He died, almost suddenly, on the night between December 1 and 2, 1905 invoking the name of Jesus and Mary.


Venerable Mons. Giovanni Battista Arista:

  • Born in Palermo on April 2, 1862
  • Ordained a priest on June 25, 1888 fascinated by the example of St. Philip Neri
  • Appointed Bishop of Sebaste by Pope Leo XIII in
  • Appointed Bishop Auxiliary of Acireale in 1904
  • Died on September 27, 1920
  • On June 1, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed him Venerable.


Servant of God Fr. Giulio Castelli:

  • Born in Turin on June 27, 1846
  • Educated in the Oratory of San Filippo Neri
  • Ordained a priest on March 13, 1869
  • In love with the Oratory ideal and worried about the sad situation in which many Italian Congregations were living, Fr. Castelli, with the approval of Pope Leo XIII, planned and implemented in Rome a college for the formation of the new candidates for the Oratorian life.
  • Died in Cava de ‘Tirreni on July 21, 1926


Venerable Father Filippo Bardellini (1878-1956):

  • Became an Oratorian in 1901
  • Ordained a priest on August 10, 1904
  • Died on August 24, 1956
  • On April 12, 2003, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him Venerable.


Venerable Father Raimondo Calcagno:

  • Born in Chioggia on April 17, 1888
  • Became an Oratorian priest on March 28, 1914
  • Died on July 18, 1964 in Chioggia
  • On November 7, 2014, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree on the heroic virtues of Father Calcagno.


Servant of God Ferdynand Machay:

  • Born on December 9, 1914 in Jabłonka, Poland
  • Became an Oratorian on June 20, 1933
  • Died on September 6, 1940 in Wisnicz, Poland
  • His cause of beatification was inserted into a group of 105 potential Polish martyrs who lived under Nazism, headed by the diocesan priest Henryk Szuman, who also includes his Oratorian brother Father Jan Chryzostom Michał


Servant of God Jan Chryzostom Michalkowski:

  • Born in Wiwer, Poland on October 2, 1914
  • Ordained a priest on June 29, 1938
  • Exhausted by hunger and inhumane work, he died in the Dora sub-camp on December 26, 1943.


Servant of God Agustì Mas Folch:

  • Born on December 6, 1866 in Barcelona, Spain
  • Ordained a priest in 1890
  • He was appointed as a Provost of the Barcelona Oratory in 1933
  • Died on March 16, 1937 in Montcada, Spain
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