Why Saint Philip?

The question implies ‘why did the Institute choose Saint Philip as its patron?’ It seems rather to be the other way round: St Philip appeared to choose the Institute. When Father Gerald Goesche first came to know the Old Mass, in the French abbey of Le Barroux, he was struck by its beauty. This was the Mass of the saints throughout the centuries and nothing had to be interpreted or added to it. He found that it revealed his vocation more profoundly. But what were the consequences of this experience? He considered at first entering the abbey of Le Barroux. However, for this he found neither the necessary vocation to the Benedictine life, nor to life as a Frenchman…

But there, at the very beginning, was St Philip. Father Goesche knew of the Oratory in Rome, and Brompton Oratory in London: here were communities of secular priests, of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri - a Catholic oasis in large cities. Here, they offered shelter to interested faithful and to those longing for the faith. It was to be a long journey from those days in the early 1990s in Southern France until 2004, when the Institute was established by the Holy See, modelled on the oratory - ‘ad instar oratorii’.

St Philip and his oratory were not only a model for a community of secular priests. His love for the saints and martyrs of the Church offered a source of true reform and renewal. He had made Rome his mission field: and so, why not import this great Italian saint to the German capital? To Berlin, where people relish an Italian lifestyle but know so little about the Catholic life which is so central to that country’s culture. A touch of St Philip’s Romanitá was just what was needed here!

This great Saint lovingly celebrates his daily mass and is untiring in his hearing of confessions. He is a vigorous spiritual teacher who promotes profound knowledge of the Faith. You can behold him leading processions and popular devotions in Rome and beyond. St Philip, known for his joyfulness, the man who became a child with the children and yet remained a wise man was just the patron who could make it clear that the Institute would not bring the Old Mass as a threat. It is as if his patronage chimes with the words of the late Pope, John Paul II, ‘Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ’ and the humble style and intellectual sublimity of Pope Benedict XVI blends perfectly with the humility of St Philip whose heart and mind were set alight by the Holy Spirit.


Das Institut baut auf Ihre Spende

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