FROM THE LIFE OF OUR GLORIOUS PATRIARCH ST PHILIP NERI APOSTLE OF ROME
Fabrizio de’ Massimi, who has been so of- ten mentioned, had five daughters by his wife Lavinia de’ Rustici, and she was again preg- nant, and the pains of labour had even com- menced when Fabrizio went to ask the holy fa- ther to pray for his wife. Philip, reflecting for awhile, said, “This time your wife will have a son but I wish you to give him the name I shall choose; do you agree to this?” Fabrizio answered, “Yes.” “Then,” replied Philip, “I will give him the name of Paolo.” After Lavinia’s death, and when the boy was about fourteen years old, on the 10th of January, 1583, he fell sick of a fever, which lasted sixty-five days con- tinuously. Philip went to see him every day, for he loved him tenderly, and had heard his con- fessions ever since he was a child. He was so pious a boy, that when Germanico Fedeli, wondering at his patience through so long and painful a malady, asked him if he would like to change his present illness for Germanico’s health, he replied that he would not barter it for the health of anybody, as he was quite con- tented with his sickness. On the 16th of March the poor boy was reduced to the last extremi- ties; and as the holy father had desired to be informed when he was on the point of expir- ing, they sent to say that if he wished to see him alive he must come as quickly as possible, as matters were now at the worst. The messen- ger arriving at San Girolamo found that Philip was saying mass, so that he could not speak to him. Meanwhile the boy expired; his father closed his eyes, and Camillo, the curate of the parish, who had given him Extreme Unction and made the commendation of his soul, was already gone; and the servants had prepared water to wash the body, and linen cloths to wrap it in. In half an hour’s time the holy fa- ther arrived; Fabrizio met him at the top of the stairs, and said to him weeping, “Paolo is dead;” Philip replied, “And why did you not send to call me sooner?” “We did,” rejoined Fabrizio, “but your Reverence was saying mass.” Philip then entered the room where the dead body was, and throwing himself on the edge of the bed, he prayed for seven or eight minutes with the usual palpitation of his heart and trembling of his body. He then took some holy water and sprinkled the boy’s face, and put a little in his mouth. After this he breathed in his face, laid his hand upon his forehead, and called him twice with a loud and sonorous voice, “Paolo, Paolo!” The youth immediately awoke as from a deep sleep, opened his eyes and said, as in reply to Philip’s call, “Father!” and immediately added, “I forgot to mention a sin, so I should like to go to confession.” The holy father ordered those who were round the bed to retire for awhile, and putting a crucifix into Paolo’s hand he heard his confession and gave him absolution. When the others re- turned into the room Philip began to talk with the youth about his sister and mother, who were both dead, and this conversation lasted about half an hour, the youth answering all questions with a clear distinct voice, as if he had been in perfect health. The colour re- turned to his countenance, so that those who saw him could hardly persuade themselves that anything was the matter with him. At last the holy father asked him if he could die will- ingly; he replied that he could. Afterwards Philip asked him a second time if he could die willingly; he answered, “Yes, most willingly; especially that I may go and see my mother and my sister in Paradise.” Philip then gave him his blessing, saying, “Go, and be blessed, and pray to God for me;“ and immediately with a placid countenance and with out the least movement Paolo expired in Philip’s arms.