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May 26.

St. Philip Neri, A.D. 1595. St. Augustine, Abp. of Canterbury, A.D. 604. St. Eleutherius, Pope, A. D. 192. St. Quadratus, Bp. A.D. 125. St. Oduvald, Abbot, A.D. 698.

St. Philip Neri.

He was born at Florence in 1515, became recluse when a child, dedicated himself to poverty, and became miraculously fervent. "The divine love," says Alban Butler, "so much dilated the breast of our saint, that the gristle which joined the fourth and fifth ribs on the left side was broken, which accident allowed the heart and the larger vessels more play; in which condition he lived fifty years." According to the same authority, his body was sometimes raised from the ground during his devotions some yards high. Butler relates the same of St. Dunstan, St. Edmund, and many other saints, and says that "Calmet, an author still living, assures us that he knows a religious man who, in devout prayer, is sometimes involuntarily raised in the air, and remains hanging in it without any support; also that he is personally acquainted with a devout nun to whom the same had often happened." Butler thinks it probable that they themselves would not determine whether they were raised by angels, or by what other supernatural operation. He says, that Neri could detect hidden sins by the smell of the sinners. He died in 1595: the body of such a saint of course worked miracles.

St. Philip Neri founded the congregation or religious order of the Oratory, in 1551. The rules of this religious order savour of no small severity. By the "Institutions of the Oratory," (printed at Oxford, 1687, 8vo. pp. 49.) they are required to mix corporal punishments with their religious harmony"—"From the first of November to the feast of the resurrection, their contemplation of celestial things shall be heightened by a concert of music; and it is also enjoined, that at certain seasons of frequent occurrence, they all whip themselves in the Oratory. After half an hour's mental prayer, the officers distribute whips made of small cords full of knots, put forth the children, if there be any, and carefully shutting the doors and windows, extinguish the other lights, except only a small candle so placed in a dark lanthorn upon the altar, that the crucifix may appear clear and visible, but not reflecting any light, thus making all the room dark: then the priest, in a loud and doleful voice, pronounceth the verse Jube Comine benedicere, and going through an appointed service, comes Apprehendite disciplinam, &c.; at which words, taking their whips, they scourge their naked bodies during the recital fo the 50th Psalm, Miserere, and the 129th, De profundis, with several prayers; at the conclusion of which, upon a sign given, they end their whipping, and put on their clothes in the dark and in silence."


The Oratorio commenced with the fathers of the Oratory. In order to draw youth to church, they had hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs, or cantatas, sung either in chorus or by a single favourite voice. These pieces were divided into two parts, the one performed before the sermon, and the other after it. Sacred stories, or events from scripture, written in verse, and by way of dialogue, were set to music, and the first part being performed, the sermon succeeded, which the people were induced to stay and hear, that they might be present at the performance of the second part. The subjects in early times were the good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, Tobit with the angel, his father, and his wife, and similar histories, which by the excellence of the composition, the band of instruments, and the performance, brought the Oratory into great repute; hence this species of musical drama obtained the general appellation of Oratorio.

St. Augustine.

This was the monk sent to England by St. Gregory the Great, to convert the English; by favour of Ethelbert, he became archbishop of Canterbury. Christianity, however, had long preceded Augustine's arrival, for the queen of Ethelbert, previous to his coming, was accustomed to pay her devotions in the church of St. Martin just without Canterbury. This most ancient edifice still exists. Not noticing more at present concerning his historical character, it is to be observed that, according to his biographers, he worked many miracles, whereof may be observed this:—

St. Augustine came to a certain town, inhabited by wicked people, who "refused hys doctryne and prechyng uterly, and drof hym out of the towne, castyng on hym the tayles of thornback, or lyke fisshes; wherefore he besought Almyghty God to shewe hys jugement on them; and God sent to them a shamefull token; for the chyldren that were born after in the place, had tayles, as it is sayd, tyll they had repented them. It is said comynly that this fyll at Stode in Kente; but blyssed be Gode, at thys daye is no such deformyte."*[1] It is said, however, that they were the natives of a village in Dorsetshire who were thus tail-pieced.† [2]

Another notable miracle is thus related. When St. Augustine came to Compton, in Oxfordshire, the curate complained, that though he had often warned the lord of the place to pay his tythes, yet they were withheld, "and therefore I," said the curate, "have cursed hym, and I fynde him the more obstynate." Then St. Augustine demanded why he did not pay his tythes to God and the church; whereto the knight answered, that as he tilled the ground, he ought to have the tenth sheaf as well as the ninth. Augustine, finding that he could not bend this lord to his purpose, then departed and went to mass; but before he began, he charged all those that were accursed to go out of the church. Then a dead body arose, and went out of the church into the churchyard with a white cloth on his head, and stood there till mass was done; whereupon St. Augustine went to him, and demanded what he was; and the dead body said, "I was formerly lord of this town, and because I would not pay my tithes to my curate, he cursed me, and then I died and went to hell." Then Augustine bade the dead lord bring him to where the curate was buried, which accordingly he did, and Augustine commanded the dead curate to arise, who thereupon accordingly arose and stood before all the people. Then Augustine demanded of the dead curate if he knew the dead lord, who answered, "Would to God I had never known him, for he was a withholder of his tythes, and, moreover, and evil-doer." Then Augustine delivered to the said curate a rod, and then the dead lord kneeling, received penance thereby; which done, Augustine commanded the dead lord to go again to his grave, there to abide until the day of judgment; and forthwith the said lord entered his grave, and fell to ashes. Then Augustine asked the curate, how long he had been dead; and he said, a hundred and fifty years. And Augustine offered to pray for him that he might remain on earth to confirm men in their belief; but the curate refused, because he was in the place of rest. Then said Augustine, "Go in peace, and pray for me and for holy church;" and immediately the curate returned to his grave. At this sight, the lord who had not paid the curate his tythes was sore afraid, and came quaking to St. Augustine, and to his curate, and prayed forgiveness of his trespass, and promised ever after to pay his tythes.


On the 26th of May, 1555, was a gay May-game at St. Marttin's-in-the-fields [sic], with giants and hobby-horses, drums and guns, morrice-dances, and other minstrels.*[3]


Rhododendron. Rhododendrum Ponticum.
Dedicated to St. Augustine.
Yellow Azalea. Azalea pontica.
Dedicated to St. Philip Neri.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Golden Legends. [return]

2. Porter's Flowers. [return]

3. Strype's Memorials. [return]