The Devil Wears Prada as do Saints
There is a rather cynical verse that says “To live with the saints above is heavenly, blessed, and glory, but to live with the saints on earth is a very different story.” It is much how I pictured being married to a Cher, Dolly Parton or Goldie Hawn. Gals with tremendous talents and immense interest in maintaining their looks. Imagine the time and effort that goes into these gals leaving the bathroom, much less the house to enter the world at large? It must be exhausting for them, and those they live with!
One saint about whom that could never be said was Phillip Neri because he was exactly what we want our saints to be; humorous and fun loving.
Phillip Neri lived in the mid 1500’s Italy and believed one gets closer to God through joy, laughter and music. He even named his new order of clergy, Oratorio, after complex pieces of music like Hendel’s Messiah. The Oratorio church is named for his order of priests.
To join St. Phillip Neri’s order a lad had to be at least 35 years old as Phillip only wanted priests that had lived full lives before becoming priests. To live to be 35 in 1500’s Italy was a fully lived life indeed!
In art Phillip Neri is often depicted with a Pomerarian on his lap much like a James Bond villain. Phillip forced new recruits to walk said dog through the village knowing the villagers would taunt a grown man with such a silly dog and it would teach them humility. Plus, he had a sense of humor!
On a recent tour was woman from Honduras that designs fashion in Manhattan. We were chatting about St. Phillip Neri and having mid-life changes of careers/focus and she told me about a fellow designer (he of handbags) that one day opted to become a Oratorio priest.
Upon joining the order he elicited a host of theological questions from Miss Honduras but none as important as what will become of his designer handbag collection? She grew misty eyed just thinking about all those Prada, Chanel, etc. handbags without a proper home. Luckily he put his designs in storage just in case the life of poverty and service lost its luster. She still keeps tabs on his, and his handbags’, whereabouts!