A Garner of Saints – Saint Philip Benizzi

Saint Philip BeniziArticle

Of the noble family of the Benizzi of Florence, where he was born in the year 1253. Of his childhood but little is known, except that he always desired to become a monk, and when only twelve months old he had cried, Behold the Servants of Mary, on seeing some Servite monks in Florence. One day, being in an ecstasy he saw a vision of the Virgin who said, Philip, come and join yourself to my chariot. Accordingly he entered the order of the Servites, but on account of his humility he would only be a lay brother. Immediately after his reception he was sent to a convent at three leagues from Florence, where he displayed the utmost diligence. He would retire into a cavern near the church to meditate, while at other times he scourged himself, his devotions proving so pleasing to God that a fountain sprang up bn the spot. Two Dominicans who chanced to visit him were so struck by his piety that they forced him to become a priest. When he said his first mass, celestial voices were heard singing the Sanctus at the elevation of the host. Passing through all the grades of the order, he was at length made General, though it is said he would not accept that high office until he received a divine command. One day he met a leper, who asked an alms. Having neither silver nor gold the saint took the man aside and gave him his tunic, and as soon as the leper had put it on he was made whole. Going to Arezzo which was besieged by the Florentines, he found the Servite friars there half dead of hunger. He knelt down to pray in front of an image of the Virgin, and before he had been there long a knock came at the door and the porter received from an unknown hand enough white bread for the nourishment of all the convent. Being in Viterbo at the time when the sacred college was assembled there, Philip would have been made pope had he not fled away. After this he departed to a mountain called Montamiata to do penance. Here he suflered from a lack of water, and accordingly by striking the rock three times with his staff”, he caused those springs to flow which have ever after been known as the baths of Saint Philip. When the time came he left this solitude and passed through France, Germany and other foreign parts. And one day when he was being insulted by some evil persons whom he had reproved for wasting their time in playing under some trees, a storm came up and a flash of lightning killed them all, as the man of God had predicted. Returning from France, he and his companions lost their way in a forest and were three days without food. On the fourth day some shepherds found them, and set them at a table made ready with bread and good fresh water. And when they wished to thank the shepherds, they immediately disappeared. Returned to Italy, Philip endeavoured to make peace between the factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellines. Preaching at Forli he accused the people of being the enemies of the Church, upon which they attacked him, leaving him half dead outside the city. In the year 1285 he resigned the generalship of his order to Fra Lottaringo della Stufa, and went to Perugia to obtain the pope’s confirmation of his action. This done, he proceeded to Todi, where he died not long after. In his life he healed many sick persons, and wrought numerous miracles during the three days that his body was awaiting burial, as well as in the succeeding years. Among these miracles two dead were raised, one being a child which had been strangled by a wolf, two men possessed by devils were made whole, and many sick were healed. His canonisation took place in 1516. 23rd August.

Attributes

  • Three crowns are held over his head by an angel, or are suspended in the air, symbolic of his having refused the triple crown of the papacy. He wears the habit of the Servite order.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Philip Benizzi”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 April 2017. Web. 27 July 2017. <>