5th CENTENARY OF THE BIRTHS OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS AND SAINT PHILIP NERI

5th CENTENARY OF THE BIRTHS OF SAINT TERESA OF JESUS AND SAINT PHILIP NERI  

This year marks five hundred years since the births of two Saints of the Catholic Church, Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint Philip Neri. Both Saints worked in various ways to promote a spiritual renewal within religious life. One founded an order and rules for the Discalced Carmelites, while the other founded the Congregation of the Oratory, initially concerned primarily with daily practices, more than the establishment of behavioural norms. Saint Teresa of Jesus, born in Avila, Spain, founded a small community of sisters with the objective of restoring adherence to the earlier, stricter rule of her order as a way to strengthen contemplative life. Balancing an ideal equilibrium of meditation with apostolic work, her witness to holiness was such that many young women asked to embrace this way of life. She was given permission to found convents throughout Castile and consolidated her efforts by responding to another intuition, that of having for her sisters confessors and spiritual fathers who answered to the same rule of the Discalced Carmelites. Born in Florence, Saint Philip Neri left for Rome around the age of twenty with the intention of developing his spiritual life there in the holy city. Initially as a layman and later after his ordination when he became known as a priest of the streets, he succeeded in gaining an enormous following and respect through the simple practice of basic virtues. His greatest intuition was that of “embracing” all people without distinction, learning to understand and share daily life in order to lead every soul to God through the simplicity of the Gospel message. He invented the oratory as a place for poor young people to meet and play under the protective wing of the Church.