Published On: Sat, Mar 12th, 2022

Concert for Joy, Laughter, and Pooches

On Saturday, March 12, at 7 PM enjoy a free concert by Sedena in front of the Oratorio (map on  The celebration is for the 400th anniversary of the canonization (becoming an official saint) of St. Phillip Neri.

Phillip Neri was an Italian living back in the 1500s who was a very different thinker feeling that it was joy, laughter and music that brought one closer to God.  So convinced he started an order of priests called Oratorios (for a piece of religious music).  From the Colonial Era to today the Oratorio church featured the best church music in town.

The Oratorio order is unique in that to be an Oratorio priest means you’ll be a parish priest here in town for the rest of your life.  Oratorios don’t move up or away, so it is a good gig if you’re a local lad that wants to stay here in San Miguel de Allende with your family.

Oratorios tend to favor wearing their long, black cassocks and floor-length robes.  I don’t know what they wear on their feet but I never hear them coming.  So if you turn around to see what looks like to you a Mexican version of Dracula, that’s just one of the Oratorios.

The Oratorio order was decimated by the virus losing one third of their priests.   Suffice to say most of the six remaining are older than I with no new ones in sight so I often wonder what would happen if we lost our Oratorios?

Oratorios run the most active church in town there by Plaza Civica and many, many satellite churches scattered throughout the city.  It is typically an Oratorio priest one goes to promote the processions, fiestas and concerts hosted year-round (when there is not a virus).

You can normally recognize Phillip Neri in art holding an orange Pomeranian as he had one in real life.  Phillip made new recruits walk his dog around the village knowing Italians would poke fun at a grown man walking such a silly little dog.  He thought it taught humility and just had a sense of humor about him not always found in clergy!

In Phillip Neri’s big image up on the Oratorio now it looks the Pomeranian is making his escape leaving his owner only with his tail in the painting!

by Joseph Toone



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