Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Special Mass for a Miracle of St Philip Neri

Among the many miracles worked by St Philip Neri in his lifetime was the raising to life of Paolo Massimo, the 14-year old son of his friend Prince Fabrizio Massimo, on March 16, 1583. St Philip had tended the boy spiritually during his long illness, and was sent for when it became clear that he was about to die. He was then living fairly close by at the church of San Giorolamo della Carità, but he was celebrating Mass when the messenger arrived, and the boy died before he could finish and be informed. Coming to the Palazzo Massimo, he prayed at the boy’s bedside, sprinkled holy water on his face, and, like the Prophet Elijah, breathed upon his face. He then called his name loudly twice, and Paolo Massimo returned to life.

On seeing his spiritual father at his bedside, the boy asked to confess a sin that he had forgotten; St Philip heard his confession and absolved him of his sins. His family were then allowed back into the room, and witnessed the boy conversing with St Philip for a half an hour, as if he were in perfect health. Paolo’s mother and sister had died a few years earlier, and so St Philip asked him if he were now willing to die, at which the boy replied that he wished to see his mother and sister in Paradise. St Philip then said to him, “Go, and be blessed, and pray to God for me,” at which Paolo Massimo died peacefully in his arms.

In commemoration of this miracle, a special feast is celebrated each year on March 16 in the chapel of the Palazzo Massimo, which is still owned and lived in by the same family, and opened to the public on this one day of the year. Priests celebrate Mass all morning long at one of the chapel’s three altars; a main Mass, usually celebrated by a Cardinal, is also organized and served by the Institute of Christ the King. A proper Mass for the feast was granted by Bl. Pope Pius IX at the behest of Francesco Cardinal Massimo, a member of the family. Photography is generally not allowed at the Masses, but a friend of mine who attended the event yesterday, Mr John Egan, was allowed to photograph the pages of Missal supplment with the proper Mass of the day, and has graciously agreed to share this liturgical curiosity with our readers.

Introit (Ps. 129) Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Let thy ears be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant. V. Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption. Glory be. Out of the depths.
The Prayer O God, who give us to rejoice by the merits and intercession of Blessed Philip, Thy confessor, grant in Thy mercy that we who through him ask Thy benefits, may obtain the gift of Thy grace. Through our Lord etc.
The Epistle is taken from Mass of Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent, 4 Kings 4, 25-38, in which the Prophet Elisha raises from the dead the son of the Sunamite woman.
The Gradual (Ps. 70) O Lord, I will be mindful of thy justice alone. Thou hast taught me, O God, from my youth: and unto old age and grey hairs, O God, forsake me not. V. By thee have I been confirmed from the womb: from my mother' s womb thou art my protector. Of thee shall I continually sing.
The Tract (also from Ps. 70, but here incorrectly not labelled separately from the Gradual.) I am become unto many as a wonder, and Thou a strong helper; let my mouth be filled with Thy praise, that I may sing thy glory. V. But I will always hope; and will add to all thy praise. V. Thou hast taught me, O God, from my youth: and till now I will declare Thy wonderful works, until I show forth Thy arm to all the generation that is to come.
The Gospel is Luke 7, 11-16, the raising of the widow of Naim’s son, taken from the same Mass as the Epistle.
The Offertory (Luke 20) Now that the dead rise again, even Moses showeth, at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. But He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto Him.
The Secret God, who establish and rule Thy people, though these offerings take away the sins by which it is assailed; that ever pleasing unto Thee by the prayers of Blessed Philip, it may also secure under Thy defense. Through our Lord etc.
The Preface (as stated in the decree below, this proper preface for St Philip was first granted to the Congregation of the Oratory in the Kingdom of Spain in 1803.) Truly it is worthy and just ... eternal God, who by the gifts of Thy grace, made the Blessed Philip to burn with the fire of love. And he, inflamed with this ineffable charity, established a new congregation for the profit of souls, and fulfilled in his works the saving counsels which he gave to others. We therefore beseech Thy clemency, that Thou give us joy in his festivity, drive us on by the example of his holy life, teach us by word of his preaching, and protect us by his pleasing supplication. And therefore with the Angels etc.
The Communion (Ps. 40) But do thou, O Lord, have mercy on me, and raise me up again: and I will requite them. By this I know, that thou hast had a good will for me: because my enemy shall not rejoice over me.
The Postcommunion May the ears of Thy mercy be open, o Lord, to the prayers of Thy supplicants; and that Thou may grant what they desire to those who ask, at the intercession of Blessed Philip Thy Confessor, cause them to ask for those thing that please Thee. Through our Lord etc.
The decree by which permission was given in 1846 to celebrate the Mass commemorating the miracle..

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: