When Father Faber began, in 1847, the series of translations of Lives of the Saints, under the title of "The Saints and Servants of God," the life of St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, was the first to engage his attention. It appeared in two volumes, 8vo, translated from the enlarged and corrected edition of the Life of the Saint, by Father Pietro Giacomo Bacci, of the Roman Oratory, published at Rome by Marini in 1837.
In 1851 a new edition of Bacci's classical work, La Vita di San Filippo Neri, had appeared in Florence, comprising certain emendations, and additions from the Lives of the Saint by Fathers Gallonio, Bernabei, Ricci, and others, which were incorporated in the text, together with twelve additional Letters of the Saint unknown to previous editors.
The translation of the Life of St. Philip, published in 1847, had been long out of print, when, in 1868, a second edition appeared. In order to compress it into one volume, the Fifth and Sixth Books, recording the miracles wrought by the Saint during his lifetime and after his death, and the Letters were omitted; but the various additions made in the Florence edition of the Life by Bacci were inserted.
After a space of thirty-four years this second edition has been long out of print, and is rarely to be met with. A new impression being a desideratum for the devotees of the Saint, it has been thought advisable to reprint the Fifth and Sixth Books and the Letters, and make two volumes of the work.
The miracles are of themselves most interesting reading, and, moreover, give a graphic picture of Italian life in the beginning of the seventeenth century; they also help us to understand better the rapid increase of devotion to St. Philip in Italy.
A few notes touching on personages and places connected with St. Philip have been added. For those interested in the older lives of the Saint, a translation of the Preface to La Vita di San Filippo Neri, published at Venice in 1794, which appears in the Florence edition of 1851, has been added. In more recent times, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, have each contributed to the History of the Life and Times of St. Philip. In France appeared, in 1859, La Vie de St. Philippe de Neri, par l'Abbé Bayle. In England, Mrs. Hope published her life of St. Philip Neri, which is a small but valuable work. (Published circa 1868.) In connection with the English lives of the Saint, it is interesting to mention the following work "The Holy Life of Philip Nerius, Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, translated out of the Latin Copy by Jacobus Baccius, small 8vo, Paris, 1656." It is published anonymously, but was probably translated by one of the many exiles for the Faith from England, who were frequenters, at some time or other, of the Oratory in Rome.
In Italy, in 1879, appeared by far the most important of all modern works on St. Philip, La Vita di
San Filippo Neri written by Father Alfonso Capecelatro, for many years Superior of the Oratory of Naples,
now Cardinal-Archbishop of Capua, and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church. This Life is not written in
the old Hagiographal style, but consists of a flowing narrative, comprising an account of the relations of St.
Philip with the contemporary Saints, holy Personages, Popes, Cardinals, Roman nobles, painters, and musicians.
Of this work a version in English appeared in 1882, made by Father Thomas Alder Pope, of the Birmingham Oratory, to whose kindness the present Editor is
indebted for permission to publish a translation by the Very Rev. F. Ignatius Dudley Ryder, Superior of the
Birmingham Oratory, of two Sonnets of the Saint, and St. Philip's genealogical tree.
The notes on the chronology of St. Philip's life were compiled by the late F. Richard Stanton, of the London Oratory, and were found among his papers at his death.
In conclusion, this New Edition of the Life of St. Philip, it is hoped, may prove acceptable to the many in England, and English-speaking countries, to whom his memory and virtues have become as household words, and who have felt the influence of the teaching and life of the Saint reproduced in our time in the lives and writings of two of St. Philip's most gifted sons, John Henry, Cardinal Newman, and Father Wilfrid Faber.
THE ORATORY, LONDON, S.W.
Feast of St. Philip. 1902.
Bacci's Life of St. Philip, Contents Page