Philip Neri was born in Florence in 1515 and educated by the Dominicans. He experienced conversion at the age of 16 and left for Rome, where he lived a life of seclusion and poverty. He studied philosophy and theology for three years before choosing to re-evangelize Rome, where Christianity had declined and was sadly in need of reform. He spent his days talking to people about God's love, and his nights in prayer. In 1548 he helped found a confraternity of laymen to minister to needy pilgrims, leading to the establishment of a now-famous Roman hospital, Santa Trinita dei Pellegrini. In 1551, his confessor insisted Philip be ordained. As a confessor himself, he was much sought after for his spiritual wisdom. Disciples flocked to him and he founded the congregation of the Oratorians, which was formally approved in 1575. Pope Gregory XIII gave them an ancient church In Rome, which they rebuilt and occupy to this day. Philip's sermons were famous for their wisdom and good humour. He said, ""I will have no sad spirits in my house. Cheerful people are more easily led to perfection."" He died at the age of 80, much loved and respected, and is still known as the "Apostle of Rome." Philip Neri is the patron of home missions, supported in Canada through the Catholic Missions in Canada.
In 596, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine— prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome — and about 40 monks to evangelize England. The group was well received by King Ethelbert of Kent, who later became a saint himself. Augustine was soon made bishop and instructed to develop a hierarchy for England and to substitute Christian feasts for pagan celebrations. Apart from the Welsh refusal to accept either Augustine or the Roman traditions he proposed, the mission was successful. Augustine established a Benedictine monastery at Canterbury. The first archbishop of Canterbury, the 'Apostle of the English,' Augustine continued to work for the faith in Britain until his death in 604.
This feast, commemorating the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth, has been celebrated in the Roman liturgy since the 8th century. Found in Luke's Gospel, this event is one of rejoicing in the wonders God has done, as both the barren Elizabeth and the young Virgin Mary fine themselves with child. Each woman experiences an out pouring of the Holy Spirit: Elizabeth's response is to declare Mary and her child blessed; and Mary's response is the hymn of praise, the Magnificat.
Justin was of pagan Greek origin born in Samaria about the year 100. He trained as a philosopher but later converted to Christianity. Justin was a persuasive Christian apologist, travelling and teaching widely about Christianity. Denounced to the authorities, Justin and his companions were brought to trial. Court records reveal how they declared themselves Christians, refusing to sacrifice to the gods. They were condemned to death and martyred about the year 165. Of his writings, two of his Apologies survive, as well as a Dialogue in which he tells of his conversion.
Little is known about Marcellinus and Peter, who lived in Rome during the time of the Emperor Diocletian. Peter is said to have been an exorcist who ministered under Marcellinus, a priest. Put to death for their faith about the year 304, the two are commemorated in the canon of the Mass. Accounts exist of miracles which resulted when their remains were moved to a German monastery in 827.