Once upon a time, in the bustling city of Rome, there lived a man named Philip Neri. He was known throughout the city for his jovial nature, his deep devotion to the Church, and his unyielding determination to bring about reform.
Philip had always been deeply religious, but as he grew older, he began to see the corruption and apathy that plagued the Church in Rome. It broke his heart to see the clergy ignoring their duty to the people, and he knew that something had to be done. So, he set out on a mission to bring about change.
But despite his serious mission, Philip never lost his sense of humor. He believed that a cheerful attitude was more in line with Christian principles than a melancholy one, and he always had a joke or a witty comment to lighten the mood. He was known to be a funny guy, who always made people laugh. “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one,” he said.
As Philip devoted himself more and more to his mission, he spent hours in prayer, often in the catacombs beneath the city. It was there, in the quiet and darkness, that something miraculous began to happen. Those who knew him well began to notice that his heart seemed to be growing larger and larger.
When Philip passed away, doctors examined his body and were amazed to find that two of his ribs had been broken. They couldn’t explain it, but the people of Rome had a theory. They believed that Philip’s heart had physically expanded as he prayed in the catacombs, filled with the love of God. This was the reason for his broken ribs.
Over time, people began to attribute all sorts of miracles to Philip, and he was eventually canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XIV who decided his enlarged heart was caused by an aneurysm. Even today, his broken ribs are a testament to the depth of his devotion and the power of his joyful spirit.
In 1932, Ponnelle and Bordet, in their biography St. Philip Neri and the Roman Society of His Times, concluded that the cause of the broken ribs was partly natural and partly supernatural. They said that it was a combination of Philip’s intense devotion and the physical manifestation of that devotion in the form of an expansion of his heart while fervently praying in the catacombs.
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!