Apôtre saint Philippe ODM pinxit

Saint Philip the Apostle
ODM pinxit

Saint Philip the Apostle

Saint Philip was a Galilean from the town of Andrew and Peter[1], Bethsaida. He was a married man, the father of several daughters who perfumed the primitive Church with the fragrance of their virtues. His family life had not kept him from becoming an exceptional contemplative, absorbed night and day in meditation of the Holy Books. He knew all the prophecies by heart and lived in such a great expectation of the Messiah that the very sight of Jesus sufficed for him to join Him.

When the Master said, “Follow Me,” Philip responded generously, leaving his wife, children and goods without hesitation to gain the Kingdom of God. Then he brought his friend Nathanael with him.

He said to him: “We have found the One of whom Moses speaks in the Law and of whom the Prophets wrote: He is Jesus, the son of Joseph, of Nazareth!”

“Nazareth!” answered Nathanael. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But the incredulity of this true Israelite did not dampen Philip’s zeal.

“Come and see!”[2] he said, and he took him to Jesus. A few words from Jesus sufficed for Him to win another Disciple.

The following year, Philip was ranked among the Apostles. Full of zeal and love for the Saviour, he was the inseparable companion of His ministry and His labors.

In several Gospel passages, we see that he was especially dear to the Master. Thus, before the first multiplication of the loaves of bread, we see Jesus lovingly testing His devoted Apostle by asking him, “Philip, where will we find enough bread to feed all these people?”[3]  Of all His Disciples, this great contemplative, not very experienced in exterior things, was surely the least likely to come up with a solution! Even so, he did have the occasion to make a fine act of faith in the divine power.

Another time, shortly before the Passion of Our Lord, some Gentiles who desired to see Jesus spoke to Philip, confident in his intercession.[4]

We can easily imagine with what respect and recollection Philip must have received the ultimate recommendations of Jesus which followed the Last Supper. How his eminently religious soul must have vibrated at the Saviour’s heavenly words! Thus, when Jesus promised the Apostles a more perfect knowledge of the Father, Philip could not help but exclaim, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us!” To which Jesus gave this beautiful and profound reply: “Philip, who sees Me also sees My Father.”[5]

After the dispersion of the Apostles, we find Saint Philip in the two Phrygias,[6], preaching the Good News with fire and carrying out His divine Master’s commands point by point: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. Freely you have received, freely give.”[7]

We cannot doubt that the holy Apostle reached a very advanced age, for Saint Polycarp, who was converted only in the year 80, had the joy of speaking with him for some time. The writings of that same Saint attest that the Apostle was buried at Hierapolis in Phrygia, after having courageously suffered the torments of martyrdom for love of his divine Master. Numerous miracles were obtained in that city through the relics of Saint Philip. His remains were later translated to the Church of Saint Philip and Saint James in Rome.

Saint Philip the Apostle is represented with a little cross, which he contemplates with love. His feast day is May 1, along with Saint James the Less.

Let us not mistake the Apostle for his name-sake, Saint Philip the Deacon, who baptized the eunuch of the Queen of Ethiopia, and whose feast day is celebrated on June 6.

We will conclude with this fine reflection by Father Herbet, an honorary canon of Amiens:

“Let us learn from Saint Philip how to love God; like him, let us desire to see the Heavenly Father. He asked only for that blessed vision because his entire happiness resided in the possession of his God. Are we in the same dispositions? Is God the sole object of all the movements of our heart? Do we yearn for Him alone? If our conscience does not give us this comforting testimony, let us pray the holy Apostle to obtain for us a perfect detachment from all created things, so that by our desires we may already become citizens of Heaven.”

Sources: Msgr. Bougaud, Le Christianisme et les temps présents (J. de Gigord: Paris, 1923), Vol. II: “Jésus-Christ,” p. 316; M. J. Collin de Plancy, Grande Vie des Saints (Louis Vivès: Paris, 1878), Vol. IX, pp. 1-3; Alban Butler and Godescard, Vie des Saints (L. Lefort: Lille), Vol. II, pp. 341-342.

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[1] St. John 1:44.
[2] St. John 1:45-46.
[3] St. John 6:5.
[4] Cf. St. John 12:20-21.
[5] St. John 14:9
[6] Ancient regions in northwestern Asia Minor, between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea.
[7] St. Matthew 10:8.

This article was published in the Magnificat Magazine, April 2018, Editions Magnificat, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.

Prayer to Saint Philip the Apostle

Great Saint Philip, Apostle so dear to the Divine Master, your devotion for Jesus was evident from the first days of your vocation. Scarcely had you met the Messiah when at once you went to speak of Him to your friend Nathanael. At the moment Jesus made the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves of bread, it is to you that He spoke, and He asked you with adorable kindness, “Where will we find enough bread to feed all these people?” A few days before the Passion of your Master, some Gentiles desired to see with their own eyes the great Prophet of whom so many wonders were related, and it was you that they addressed to take them to Him. With what ardor, at the Last Supper, did you ask Jesus to make the heavenly Father known to you! Your soul aspired to the divine light. And when the Holy Spirit inundated you with His fire, you set out courageously for the conquest of souls, enlightening those who were still living in darkness. As a reward for your labors, Jesus had you participate in the honors of His cross.

O holy Apostle, obtain for us a portion of your admirable virtues: your zeal, your faith, your spirit of prayer. May we imitate your attentive quest for the heavenly Father and for His holy Will; and may His cross be sweet to us when it shall please Him to have us participate in it with Him. Amen.