PHILIP Neri, a native of Florence, remarkable from his childhood upwards for the singular beauty and purity of his character, came to reside at Rome, at the age of eighteen, in 1533. For some years he was tutor to the children of a Florentine nobleman living in Rome. His life was one of habitual selfdenial, penance, and prayer. A thirst for doing good consumed him; and by degrees he gathered round him a number of men, young and old, whom he animated by his discourses to a greater zeal for God and hatred of evil, and to a more exact regularity of life than they had known before. This he did while still a layman; but on the advice of his confessor he received holy orders, and was ordained priest in 1551. For a short time after his ordination he received in his own chamber those whom he had won to God,! and instructed them on spiritual things; then, during seven years, in a larger room. Out of these colloquies was gradually perfected the plan of evening exercises, which is to this day practiced by the congregation,plain sermons being preached, hymns sung, and popular devotions used, in a regular order, on every weekday evening except Saturday. The number of persons attending the exercises still increasing, he obtained (1558) from the administration of the Church of St. Jerome leave to build over one of the aisles of that church a chapel, to which he gave the modest name of an "oratory," whence arose the name of the congregation. About this time many persons afterwards eminent in the Church and the world joined him, amongst whom were Caesar Baronius, the ecclesiastical historian, and Francis Maria Tarugi, afterwards Cardinals, Lucci, Tassone, etc. Six years later, the FIorentines living in Rome having requested him to undertake the charge of the Church of St. John the Baptist which they had just built, the saint (1504) caused Baronius and others of his followers to remove thither and to receive ordination. From this date the commencement of the congregation is reckoned. Their numbers increasing, it seemed desirable to the Fathers to have a house of their own. The old church of the Vallicella, situated in the heart of Rome, was ceded to them in 1575; and St. Philip at once caused the present magnificent church, called the "Chiesa Nuova," to be commenced on the site. The Fathers removed to the Vallicella in 1577 on the completion of the church; St. Philip joined them in 1583. Gregory XIII. had approved and confirmed the erection of the congregation in 1575. The constitutions of the societywhich St. Philip desired should be composed of simple priests, without vows, but agreeing to a rule of lifewere approved by Paul V. in 1612. St. Philip died in 1595, was beatified in 1615, and canonized in 1622. The rule of the congregation from the first was that each house should be independent, the only exception being made in favor of certain Italian oratories (Naples, San Severino, and afterwards Lanciano), which were at first administered by the mother house at Rome.
The Oratory was introduced into England in 1847 by Dr. (now Cardinal) Newman, who, during his long sojourn in Rome following upon his conversion, had studied closely the work of the holy founder and become deeply imbued with the spirit of his institute. The first house was at Mary Vale, i.e. Old Oscott, and was transferred, after a temporary sojourn at St. Wilfrid's, Staffordshire, to Alcester Street, Birmingham, in January, 1849. A short time later a house was opened at King William Street, Strand, London, by F. Faber, with several other Fathers who belonged to the Birmingham congregation, and were still subject to Father Newman. In October, 1850, the London house was released from obedience to Birmingham, and erected into a congregation with a superior of its own. It was finally transferred to Brompton, where it is now erecting a large domed church. The Oratory at Birmingham has remained under the directionever since his elevation to the purpleof its illustrious founder, and has become a great center for the midland counties of Catholic preaching and education.
The following passage embodies a portion of the cardinal's conception of St. Philip's work. "He was raised up," writes Cardinal Newman, "to do a work almost peculiar in the Church." Instead of combating like Ignatius, or being a hunter of souls like St. Cajetan, "Philip preferred, as he expressed it, tranquilly to cast in his net to gain them; he preferred to yield to the stream and direct the currentwhich he could not stopof science, literature, art, and fashion, and to sweeten and sanctify what God had made very good and man had spoilt. And so he contemplated as the idea of his mission, not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of doctrine, nor the catechetical schools: whatever was exact and systematic pleased him not; he put from him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David refused the armor of his king. No; he would be but an ordinary individual priest as others; and his weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light, and fervor, and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat him self down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials from without. He did not so much seek his own as draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and they in their gay worldly dresses, the rich and the wellborn as well as the simple and the illiterate, crowded into it. And they who came remained gazing and listening till, at length, first one and then another threw off their bravery, and took his poor cassock and girdle instead; or, if they kept it, it was to put poor haircloth under it, or to take on them a rule of life, while to the world they looked as before."
HISTORY OF THE
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
THE special and formal devotion of the Heart of
Jesus, which is now so popular in the Church, owes its origin to a
Visitation nun, the Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, who lived in the latter part of the seventeenth century, Her biographers relate that our Lord Himself appeared to her and declared that this worship was most acceptable to Him; and her director, the Jesuit, Father de la Colombiere, preached the devotion at the Court of St. James, and zealously propagated it elsewhere. The most popular book in defense of the new devotion was that of Father Gallifet, S.J., "De Cultu SS. Cordis Jesu in variis Christiani orbis partibus jam propagato." It was published with a dedication to Benedict XIII. and with the approval of' Lambertini (afterwards Benedict XIV.); the French translation appeared in 1745, at Lyons. On February 6, 1765,1 Clement XIII. permitted several churches to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart which was extended in 1856 to the whole Church.
It is generally kept on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. In England, Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Portugal, indeed, throughout the Catholic world, the devotion and the feast found a ready and enthusiastic acceptance. However, the worship of the Sacred Heart encountered keen opposition, particularly from the Jansenists. They who practiced it were nicknamed "Cardiolatrae" or "Cordicolae," and charged with Nestorianism, as if they worshipped a divided Christ, and gave to the created humanity of Christ worship which belonged to God alone. The Jansenist objections were censured as injurious to the Apostolic See, which had approved the devotion, and bestowed numerous indulgences in its favor by Pius VI. in his condemnation of the Jansenist synod of Pistoia. This condemnation was issued in the bull "Auctorem fidei," bearing date August 28, 1694. A further approval of the devotion was implied in the beatification of Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1864
The bull "Auctorem fidei " contains the following explanation of the principle on which the devotion rests, an explanation which is at once authoritative and clear. The faithful worship with supreme adoration the physical Heart of Christ, considered "not as mere flesh, but as united to the Divinity." They adore it as "the Heart of the Person of the Word to which it is inseparably united." It is of course absurd to speak of this principle as novel, it is as old as the belief in the hypostatic union, and it was solemnly defined in 431 at the Council of Ephesus. All the members of Christ united to the rest of His sacred humanity and to the eternal Word are the object of divine worship. If it be asked further, why the heart is selected as the object of special adoration, the answer is, that the real and physical heart is a natural symbol of Christ's exceeding charity, and of his interior life. Just as the Church in the middle ages turned with singular devotion to the Five Wounds as the symbol of Christ's Passion so in these later days she bids us have recourse to His Sacred Heart: mindful of the love wherewith He loved us "even to the end." Nothing could be made of the fact, if it were a fact, that the devotion actually began with Blessed Margaret Mary, for though the doctrine of the Church cannot change, she may and does from time to time introduce new forms of devotion. But the special devotion to the Heart of our Savior is as old at least as the twelfth century, while early in the sixteenth the Carthusian Lansperg recommended pious Christians to assist their devotion by using a figure of the Sacred Heart.
(An account of the theology of the devotion will be found in Card. Franzelin, "De Incarnatione," and of the propagation of the devotion in the admirable Life of Blessed Margaret Mary by F. Tickell, S. J. Both the doctrines and the history are exhaustively treated by Nilles, "De Rationibus Festorum Sacratissimi Cordis Jssu et Purissimi Cordis Mariae," 1873.)
HISTORY OF THE
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
THE principles on which the devotion rests are the same (mutatis mutandis) as those which are the foundation of the Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart. Just as Catholics worship the Sacred Heart because it is united to the Person of the Word, so they venerate (with hyperdulia) the heart of Mary because united to the person of the Blessed Virgin. In each case the physical heart is taken as a natural symbol of charity and of the inner life, though of course the charity and virtues of Mary are infinitely inferior to those of her Divine Son.
The devotion to the Immaculate Heart was first propagated by John Eudes, founder of a congregation of priests called after him Eudistes. Eudes died in 1680. The Congregation of Rites in 1669, and again in 1726, declined to sanction the devotion. However, a local celebration of the feast was permitted (but without proper Mass and office) by Pius VI. in 1799; and in 1855 Pius IX. extended the feastwhich is kept with a special Mass and office, either on the Sunday after the Octave of the Assumption or on the third Sunday after Pentecostto the whole Church. The Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart established some twenty years earlier at the church of Notre Dame des Victoires, in Paris, did much to spread the devotion and make it popular.
(Nilles, "De Rationibus Festorum SS. Cordis Jesu et Purissimi Cordis Mariae.")
1 The Congregation of Rites had refused to sanction the feast in 1697 and 1729 .
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