Guido Reni (b. 1575, Calvenzano, d. 1642, Bologna)
St Filippo Neri in Ecstasy
Oil on canvas, 180 x 110 cm
Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome
St Philip Neri died in 1595.
This painting was commissioned in 1614, the year in which the proceedings that were to lead to Neri's beatification commenced.
A mosaic of this painting hangs in the chapel above the altar in the Chiesa Nova over which the remains of the saint lie. (see above)
The saint was beatified by Paul V in 1615, and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622
Cardinal Newman wrote of St Philip Neri:
“he contemplated as the idea of his mission, not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of doctrine, nor the catechetical schools; whatever was exact and systematic pleased him not; he put from him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David refused the armour of his king....
He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials from without. He did not so much seek his own as draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and they in their gay, worldly dresses, the rich and the wellborn, as well as the simple and the illiterate, crowded into it.
In the mid-heats of summer, in the frosts of winter still was he in that low and narrow cell at San Girolamo, reading the hearts of those who came to him, and curing their souls' maladies by the very touch of his hand.... And they who came remained gazing and listening till, at length, first one and then another threw off their bravery, and took his poor cassock and girdle instead; or, if they kept it, it was to put haircloth under it, or to take on them a rule of life, while to the world they looked as before."