News Archive

Friday 21 May 2021

Salvete Flores Martyrum!

salvete flores martyrum

Watch today's Mass, Novena, and Benediction here.

For many years, our Holy Father lived at San Girolamo della Carità, opposite the Venerable English College. Consequently, he was a frequent visitor at the College, and acted as an external confessor. It was the custom that newly-ordained English priests would come to ask a blessing from Philip before setting forth for the dangerous, mission territory of England. When he encountered English seminarians, St Philip would greet them by saying, "Salvete, flores martyrum!" which means, "Hail, flowers of martyrdom!"

Whenever news came to the English College of the martyrdom of one of its alumni, the new martyr's place in the refectory would be decorated with flowers, and a Te Deum would be sung. St Philip is likely to have been present on some of these frequent occasions.  Our Cardinal, Saint John Henry Newman, in his Litany of St Philip, has the invocation Hospes Anglorum - 'Guest of the English'.

Today's hymn for the Novena makes reference to our Saint's special love for England. It is When many sought a guide by the eminent lyricists, Amanda Hill and Dominic Jacob. The prayers for the novena are here: SPN Novena

The words for the hymn follow, so that you can sing along at home:

When many sought a guide
In times of stress and storm,
The fortunate in Philip found
A wisdom firm but warm.

He influenced the great,
Yet was a humble priest;
Pure servant of a loving Lord,
Devoted to the least.

When weary pilgrim bands
Their way to Rome did wend,
They found in him a sanctuary,
A father and a friend.

The truth he could discern,
From sin he could set free;
He followed in his Master's steps
In true humility.

The noble youth of Rome
Encouraged he and taught
The essence of a virtuous life;
To hold the world as naught.

To English Mission priests
He gave a fond farewell:
'Salvete, flores martyrum!'
Their end he could foretell.

We sing of Philip's heart,
So full of burning love;
His message to an erring world
To honour God above.

As Philip let us pray
That God may bless us all;
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
And raise us when we fall.