Credited with countless miracles and intercessions since discovery of her tomb in the most ancient catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome in 1802, St. Philomena is prayed to by people of diverse ages, culture and social standing around the world. The young virgin who was martyred at age 13, willingly traded her earthly life for heavenly salvation and continues her work today promoting the virtues of purity and sanctity among the world’s youth and bringing the faithful closer to our Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ. It would seem she was held in quiet reserve by God for nearly seventeen centuries and summoned at a time when so much uncertainty and absence of faith abound.
Hail, O Holy Saint Philomena, my dear patroness. As my advocate with thy Divine Spouse, intercede for me now and at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.Hail, O Holy Saint Philomena, my dear patroness. As my advocate with thy Divine Spouse, intercede for me now and at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.
On August 10, 1835, Pauline received a miraculous cure of a severe heart ailment at Saint Philomena’s shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy, during the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Immediately following, she appealed to Pope Gregory XVI to begin an examination for the beatification of "Filumena," daughter of light. And on Jan. 13, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI named St. Philomena Patroness of the Living Rosary, and declared her to be the "Thaumaturga," the "Great Wonder-Worker of the nineteenth century." In a solemn decree, he raised her to the altar of the Church, granting her a special feast day (August 11) and a Mass in her honor.
The name Philomena (fee-lo-MAY-nah) is of Latin origin. The inscription on the original loculus tiles, is Filumena. The word filia is Latin for daughter. The word, lumena, is Latin for, light, lamp, lantern; light of day; the eye; clearness; understanding.
Pauline promoted Saint Philomena as the Supporter of Missionary Priests. Upon her return to France from Mugnano, she was eager to recount the story of her miraculous cure with her dear friend, the Venerable Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney Link Out, and offered him part of the precious relics she brought from the Sanctuary. Immediately, an incredible bond and well-known devotion formed between this holy priest and his "Dear Little Saint."
Virgin, Martyr and Wonder Worker
The very name of Philomena contains the words: filia luminis, daughter of light. She is the enlightener of a dark and corrupt age confounding the sneers of materialism. She is the Patroness of the Children of Mary. Her mission today is to draw us to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through imitation of her heroic virtues of purity, obedience and humility. Saint Philomena is an anchor of HOPE in this dark age of despair.
Our Patroness, Saint Philomena
The Story of St. Philomena
It is said that Saint Philomena revealed Her story to three people who did not know one another and who resided in different parts of the world. These private revelations unveiled the story of Saint Philomena’s life in great detail and were amazingly identical accounts.
"Filomena" [Ital.] "Philomène" [Fr.] "Philomena" [Eng.]
One of the most well-known recipients of this revelation was the Foundress of the Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mother Maria Luisa di Gesù, a Dominican Tertiary.
On August 3, 1833, after having received the Eucharist, the nun Maria was praying before Saint Philomena’s statue and at that moment felt a strong desire to know the true date of the Saint’s martyrdom. August 10 was the day St. Philomena’s relics had arrived in Mugnano, Italy. This date was significant to the people of Mugnano, but not to those who lived elsewhere. As Maria contemplated this, she closed her eyes and suddenly a gracious and gentle voice came from the direction of the statue, saying:
"Dear Sister, August the tenth was the day of my rest, my triumph, my birth into Heaven, my entering into the possession of such eternal goods as the human mind cannot possibly imagine. That is why my Heavenly Spouse disposed, by His most high decrees that my coming to Mugnano should be on the day which had seen my coming to Heaven! He prepared so many circumstances which should make my arrival at Mugnano glorious and triumphant; giving joy to all the people, even though the priest who brought me had absolutely decided that my translation should take place on the fifth of the month very quietly in his own house. My omnipotent Spouse impeded him with so many obstacles that the priest, although he did all he could to carry out his plan, could not do so. And so it came about that the said translation was made on the tenth, the day of my feast in Heaven."
The statue of Saint Philomena in the Ars Shrine, France
Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena
Mother Maria was overwhelmed by this and thought she had fallen as prey to this illusion. She took refuge in the Sacrament of Penance, confessing the whole event to her spiritual director. He was not so hasty in disposing of the matter. He proceeded to write to Don Francesco de Lucia Link Out in Mugnano and inquired about the truth of whether or not he originally intended to have the translation on August 5. Don Francesco’s reply confirmed that he indeed encountered many obstacles which detained him from carrying out his plan to arrive in Mugnano on the fifth.
Click here to listen to a beautiful audio presentation of the Story of Saint Philomena.Listen to the Story. Click here to listen to a beautiful audio presentation of the Story of Saint Philomena (courtesy of WaySideAudio.com)
At that, Mother Luisa’ director granted her obedience to ask St. Philomena other details of her life and martyrdom. Again, Mother Luisa went to the Saint, and begged her not to take any notice of her unworthiness, but to consider that it was a matter of holy obedience, and to reveal more about her life. After that time, there came a day when Maria was alone in her cell and felt her eyes being closed. She heard the gracious voice of St. Philomena. The following account of the life of Saint Philomena is taken from the official account of Fr. Di Lucia’s Relazione Istorici di Santa Filomena and subsequent annals from locutions received by Sr. Luisa di Gesu in August of 1833. These revelations received approval by the Holy Office, (presently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) on December 21, 1833.
"My dear Sister, I am the daughter of a Prince who governed a small state in Greece. My mother is also of royal blood. My parents were without children. They were idolaters. They continually offered sacrifices and prayers to their false gods.
A doctor from Rome named Publius lived in the palace in the service of my father. This doctor professed Christianity. Seeing the affliction of my parents, by the impulse of the Holy Ghost, he spoke to them of Christianity, and promised to pray for them if they consented to receive Baptism. The grace which accompanied his words enlightened their understanding and triumphed over their will. They became Christians and obtained the long desired happiness that Publius had assured them as the reward of their conversion. At the moment of my birth, they gave me the name of "Lumena," an allusion to the light of Faith of which I had been, as it were, the fruit. The day of my Baptism they called me "Filumena," or "Daughter of Light," because on that day I was born to the Faith. The affection which my parents bore me was so great that they had me always with them.
It was on this account that they took me to Rome on a journey that my father was obliged to make on the occasion of an unjust war with which he was threatened by the haughty Diocletian. I was then thirteen years old. On our arrival in the capital of the world, we proceeded to the palace of the Emperor and were admitted for an audience. As soon as Diocletian saw me, his eyes were fixed upon me. He appeared to be pre-possessed in this manner during the entire time that my father was stating with animated feelings everything that could serve for his defense.
As soon as Father had ceased to speak, the Emperor desired him to be disturbed no longer, to banish all fear, to think only of living in happiness. These are the Emperor’s words, ‘I shall place at your disposal all the force of the Empire. I ask only one thing, that is the hand of your daughter.’ My father, dazzled with an honor he was far from expecting, willingly acceded on the spot to the proposal of the Emperor.
Saint Philomena Cloth Banner
When we returned to our own dwelling, Father and Mother did all they could to induce me to yield to Diocletian’s wishes and theirs. I cried, ‘Do you wish, that for the love of a man, I should break the promise I have made to Jesus Christ? My virginity belongs to him. I can no longer dispose of it.’
‘But you were young then, too young,’ answered my father, ‘to have formed such an engagement.’ He joined the most terrible threats to the command that he gave me to accept the hand of Diocletian. The grace of my God rendered me invincible, and my father, not being able to make the Emperor relent, in order to disengage himself from the promise he had given, was obliged by Diocletian to bring me to the Imperial Chamber.
I had to withstand for some time beforehand a new attack from my father’s anger. My mother, uniting her efforts to his, endeavored to conquer my resolution. Caresses, threats, everything was employed touce me to compliance. At last, I saw both of my parents fall at my knees and say to me with tears in their eyes, ‘My child have pity on your father, your mother, your country, our country, our subjects.’
‘No! No,’ I answered them. ‘My virginity, which I have vowed to God, comes before everything, before you, before my country. My kingdom is heaven.’
Sainte PhilomèneSainte Philomène
My words plunged them into despair and they brought me before the Emperor, who on his part did all in his power to win me. But his promises, his allurements, his threats, were equally useless. He then flew into a violent fit of anger and, influenced by the Devil, had me cast into one of the prisons of the palace, where he had me loaded with chains. Thinking that pain and shame would weaken the courage with which my Divine Spouse inspired me, he came to see me every day. After several days, the Emperor issued an order for my chains to be loosed, that I might take a small portion of bread and water. He renewed his attacks, some of which would have been fatal to purity had it not been for the grace of God.
The defeats which he always experienced were for me the preludes to new tortures. Prayer supported me. I did not cease to recommend myself to Jesus and his most pure Mother. My captivity had lasted thirty-seven days, when, in the midst of a heavenly light, I saw Mary holding the Divine Son in her arms.
‘My daughter,’ she said to me, ‘three days more of prison and after forty days you shall leave this state of pain.’
Such happy news made my heart beat with joy, but as the Queen of Angels had added that I should quit my prison, to sustain, in frightful torments a combat far more terrible than those preceding, I fell instantly from joy to the most cruel anguish; I thought it would kill me.
‘Have courage, my child,’ Mary then said to me; ‘are you unaware of the love of predilection that I bear for you? The name, which you received in baptism, is the pledge of it for the resemblance which it has to that of my Son and to mine. You are called Lumena, as your Spouse is called Light, Star, Sun, as I myself am called Aurora, Star, the Moon in the fullness of its brightness, and Sun. Fear not, I will aid you. Now nature, whose weakness humbles you, asserts its law. In the moment of combat, grace will come to lend you its force, and your Angel, who was also mine, Gabriel, whose name expresses strength, will come to your aid. I will recommend you especially to his care, as the well beloved among my children.’
Honoring Saint Philomena we proclaim the power of God in the strength of His Martyrs, and His Infinite Goodness in the favors He concedes to the prayers of His Saints. This was the theology of the Holy CurÉ of Ars, and this will be ours also. Father Luis Petit, founder of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, Paris, France, 1859
These words of the Queen of virgins gave me courage again, and the vision disappeared, leaving my prison filled with a celestial perfume. I experienced a joy out of this world. Something indefinable.
What the Queen of Angels had prepared me for was soon experienced. Diocletian, despairing of bending me, decided on public chastisement to offend my virtue. He condemned me to be stripped and scourged like the Spouse I preferred to him. These are his horrifying words.
‘Since she is not ashamed to prefer to an Emperor like me, a malefactor condemned to an infamous death by his own people, she deserves that my justice shall treat her as he was treated.’
The prison guards hesitated to unclothe me entirely but they did tie me to a column in the presence of the great men of the court. They lashed me with violence until I was bathed in blood. My whole body felt like one open wound, but I did not faint.
The tyrant had me dragged back to the dungeon, expecting me to die. I hoped to join my heavenly Spouse. Two angels, shining with light, appeared to me in the darkness. They poured a soothing balm on my wounds, bestowing on me a vigor I did not have before the torture.
When the Emperor was informed by the change that had come over me, he had me brought before him. He viewed me with a greedy desire and tried to persuade me that I owed my healing and regained vigor to Jupiter, another god that he, the Emperor, had sent to me. He attempted to impress me with his belief that Jupiter desired me to be Empress of Rome. Joining to these seductive words promises of great honor, including the most flattering words, Diocletian tried to caress me. Fiendishly, he attempted to complete the work of Hell which he had begun. The Divine Spirit to whom I am indebted for constancy in preserving my purity seemed to fill me with light and knowledge and to all the proofs which I gave of the solidity of our Faith, neither Diocletian nor his courtiers could find an answer.
Then, the frenzied Emperor dashed at me, commanding a guard to chain an anchor around my neck and bury me deep in the waters of the Tiber. The order was executed. I was cast into the water, but God sent me two angels who unfastened the anchor. It fell into the river mud, where it remains no doubt to the present time. The angels transported me gently in full view of the multitude upon the riverbank. I came back unharmed, not even wet, after being plunged with the heavy anchor.
In Memoriam of Deceased Members of the Silva Family.In Memoriam of Deceased Members of the Silva Family.
When a cry of joy rose from the debauchers on the shore, and so many embraced Christianity by proclaiming their belief in my God, Diocletian attributed my preservation to secret magic. Then the Emperor had me dragged through the streets of Rome and shot with a shower of arrows. My blood flowed, but I did not faint. Diocletian thought that I was dying and commanded the guards to carry me back to the dungeon. Heaven honored me with a new favor there. I fell into a sweet sleep, and I found myself, on awaking, perfectly cured.
Diocletian learned about it. ‘Well, then,’ he cried in a fit of rage, ‘let her be pierced with sharp darts a second time, and let her die in that torture.’ They hastened to obey him. Again, the archers bent their bows. They gathered all their strength, but the arrows refused to second their intentions. The Emperor was present. In a rage, he called me a magician, and thinking that the action of fire could destroy the enchantment, ordered the darts to be made in a furnace and directed against my heart. He was obeyed, but these darts, after having passed through a part of the space which they were to cross to come to me, took a quite contrary direction and returned to strike those by whom they had been hurled. Six of the archers were killed by them. Several among them renounced paganism, and the people began to render public testimony to the power of God that protected me.
These murmurs and acclamations infuriated the tyrant. He determined to hasten my death by ordering my head to be cut off. My soul took flight towards my heavenly Spouse, who placed me, with the crown of virginity and the palm of martyrdom, in a distinguished place among the elect. The day that was so happy for me and saw me enter into glory was Friday, the third hour after mid-day, the same hour that saw my Divine Master expire."
What is noteworthy from a historical perspective is not only that this revelation was confirmed by two other individuals unknown to each other (one a priest, the other a historian), but these other historical facts: 1) The Third Century Roman Emperor was known for executing Christians by the use of arrows, exemplified by St. Sebastian; 2) The Third Century Roman Emperor was also known for killing Christians by tying anchors around their necks and throwing them into the water; 3) The reference to "Lumena" -- the name given to her at birth, "Light" -- and then at Baptism, "Fi Lumena," "Daughter of Light," may explain the arrangement of the tiles found at the grave as "Lumena," her first given name, was on the first tile.
The Facts of St. Philomena
In spite of much research, little is known of the life of St. Philomena before the discovery of her celebrated tomb in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. Details about her are derived from the revelation that she herself made to the Servant of God, Sister Maria Luisa of Jesus, her fervent devotee, on August 3, 1833.
The following are historical facts beginning with the discovery of St. Philomena’s tomb in 1802.
May 24, 1802 - A Tomb Is Discovered
Revolution, war, famine, atheism, and persecution had plagued Europe during the eighteenth century, and the Jansenist heresy had touched and withered the spiritual vigor of Catholics. Men cameo believe in their own abilities and the right of any man to think as they did.
In these fierce days of persecution, the primitive Christians were obliged to perform the sacred rites of their holy religion in the subterranean caverns (cryptœ) which extend on every side of the Eternal City, but clustered most thickly at the south-east corner, near the Appain Way and the Ardeatine Way. These caverns, long-believed to have been originally mere sand-pits, arenaria, out of which sand was dug for building purposes, are now proved beyond all doubt to have been constructed at great expense by noble and wealthy Christian families as places of burial. During three consecutive centuries, the Catacombs, as they are called, were places where the faithful had their temples and altars; where they met to pray in common and where the Pontiffs celebrated "The Gathering," or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They were in constant use also up to the cessation of persecution, and even to 410 A.D as the last resting-place of the Saints and martyrs. In the terrible irruptions of the Goths and Lombards, many of these cemeteries, especially of the Via Salaria, were sacrilegiously plundered of their sacred treasures, and in part destroyed. When happier times ensued - at the commencement of the eighth century and culminating with Pope St. Paschal - all the relics of the Popes and principal martyrs and confessors which had hitherto lain in the Catacombs were removed for greater safety to the churches of Rome. As time passed, the Catacombs were abandoned and in great part closed, and the knowledge of them was lost altogether, until they were accidentally re-discovered by some laborer in the year 1578. Even then they seem to have been left unguarded, and permission was given to the faithful to take away whatever relics they chose.
Painting of Saint Philomena commissioned by Saint John Vianney and is housed in the Shrine of Ars, France. Vianney reported that this is the exact likeness of Saint Philomena, who said that she appeared to him.
Painting of Saint Philomena commissioned by Saint John Vianney and is housed in the Shrine of Ars, France. Vianney reported that this is the exact likeness of Saint Philomena, who said that she appeared to him.
Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena
By a special providence of God, the sacred tomb of St. Philomena was left unnoticed and undisturbed until it pleased Him in these later days to reveal Her glory to the entire world.
However, the story begins quite plainly, though and perhaps sadly. On May 24, 1802, workers had just returned to the excavations begun earlier in a tufa pit in an underground cemetery dedicated to the family of Priscilla (the ancient Catacomb of Saint Priscilla), underneath the soil on the road that goes out of the Porta Salaria from Rome to Ancona.
Laboring in the darkness, a fossor reached the center of the Catacomb not far from the Greek Chapel, and very close to the largest luminaries where he was clearing loose sand which had fallen from one of the galleries on the upper level from a loculus when his pick struck a cemented surface.
Upon closer examination the concrete surface appeared to be some tiles which would normally enclose a loculus and, as previously instructed by Msgr. Ponzetti, Custodian of the Holy Relics, he immediately ceased the excavation.
May 25, 1802 - The Tomb Is Revealed
Fr. Filippo Ludovici, Vatican overseer of the excavation was informed, and on the following day, May 25, 1802, Fr. Ludovici, accompanied by several observers, descended into the Catacomb, and witnessed the full uncovering of the loculus, whereby with the removal of sand, three brick funeral tiles (the tiles were given to the Sanctuary on August 14, 1827 by Pope Leo XII) were revealed which bore an epitaph painted in lead. Each tile measured approximately 50 centimeters long and had a total length of 1.74 centimeters (5 feet 9 inches).
LumenaLumena Pax TePax Te Cum FiCum Fi
The painted inscription on the three funeral tiles appeared as follows: tile one - LUMENA; tile two - PAXTE; tile three - CUM FI. The loculus was documented by Msgr. Ponzetti, Custodian of the Holy Relics, as bearing "FILUMENA," an interpretation of the epitaph consistent with both the ancient custom of beginning inscriptions from the second tile and the logical etymological context. The result is a full reading of the epitaph as "PAX TECUM FILUMENA." This funereal inscription presents the distinctive characteristics of apostolic times, rarely found in other cemeteries more recent than the Priscilla.
The name of "Filumena" is officially granted to the sacred remains examined on May 25, 1802, as recorded in the document issued by Ponzetti as Custodian of the Sacred Relics which released the remains of this Christian martyr to the Diocese of Nola on June 8, 1805:
8 Iunii 1805 Dono dedi Ven. Ecclesiae Archipresbyterali terrae Mugnano Dioecesis Nolanae corpus Sanctae Christi Martyris FILUMENAE Nominis proprii sic picti in tribus Tabulis laterariis cinabro LUMENA PAXTE CUM FI in pulverem et in fragminaactum per me infrascriptum Custodem extractum cum vasculo vitreo fracto ex Coemeterio Priscillae Via Salaria Nova die 25 maii 1802, quod collocavi in capsula lignea charta colorata cooperta et consignavi Illmo Dominico Caesari pro Illmo et Rmo D. Bartholomaeo de Caesare Epo Potentino. HYACINTHUS PONZETTI, Custos.
Symbols of Martyrdom
In addition to the inscription, so eloquent in its simplicity, the sepulchral tiles exhibited certain symbols, including tokens of martyrdom. There were an anchor and arrow pointing upwards, a palm, and under the palm another anchor, a javelin pointing upwards, another arrow pointing downwards, and a lily.
Students of Christian symbols generally agree on the interpretation of these figures on the tiles. The emblems breathe the language of faith and hope.
In the anchor there is a resemblance to the cross, the sign of faith in Christ. In both Greek and Roman antiquity there is mention of the sacred anchor. The anchor also connotes hope, refuge, and preservation of life. In the legend of the martyred Saint Philomena there is a passage about the Roman emperor’s wrath when an anchor he had fastened to the girl’s neck wedged in the mud of the Tiber River. Other Saints, including Pope Clement, suffered martyrdom by having an anchor tied to the neck and being dropped into the sea. Emperor Trajan as well as Tberius decreed this form of brutality.
The two arrows pointing in opposite directions signify torment similar to that which Tiberius exercised on St. Sebastian.
On the removal of the tiles in the cavity, were disclosed the remains of an interment, which competent authority pronounced to be those of a young girl from thirteen to fifteen years of age. The head was small and very much fractured, but the principal bones were entire. Surgeons ascertained the type of wounds inflicted. Physicians examined the skeleton - its small unbroken bones, fractured skull, and eye sockets. The maiden had been lanced.
At the end of the loculus was a small glass vial or vase with half-broken sides of which were encrusted within with a dust of blackish color indicating blood clinging to glass fragments, and with the lower portion of the vial still intact and firmly embedded in the cement . It was undoubtedly blood which had been collected at the death of the martyr, according to the custom of Christians during the persecutions, and placed with the remains as a testimonial to her death by martyrdom. As early as 1668, the Congregation of Indulgences and Relics had decided that the genuineness of a true relic of a martyr hinged somewhat on the finding of the vial or vase filled with the martyr’s blood. The same congregation renewed the decision in 1863.
Saint Philomena Shield.
This blood was loosened from the broken pieces of the vial to which it adhered, and was carefully placed in a crystal urn. Those present, among whom were men of great learning of the Court of Inquiry, were startled by a strange chemical reaction. As soon as these little particles of blood fell into the sun, they glittered like burnished gold or silver, or shone like diamonds and precious jewels, or, again, were resplendent in all colors of the rainbow. The chemical change of the blood convinced the Church dignitaries that a new star had arisen among the Blessed. Cardinal Ruffo Scilla renewed the seals on the new reliquary after the blood of the Saint had been safeguarded in the crystal vial, and deposed in the authentication: "And we have seen her blood change into several brilliant little precious stones of various colors; also into gold and silver."
This extraordinary phenomenon continues to the present day. The precious remains were reverently placed in a wooden case, lined with silk and stuffed with fine cotton and transferred to the Custodia Generale, or treasury of Sacred Relics, where they remained there for three years.
August 10, 1805 - Transfer Of the Relics from Rome to the Sanctuary of St. Philomena, Mugnano del Cardinale, Av., Italy
The remains of Filumena departed from Rome on July 1, 1805 and arrived at Mugnano on August 10, 1805 where they have remained since the transferal.
In 1805, England was at war with France. At this time, France was intrigued with Ireland Scotland had attempted to invade England with its aim on the Indian Empire. Napoleon, who had been the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army which invaded and conquered Italy, was now Emperor of the French.
That summer, the Bishop-elect of Petenza went to Rome to be consecrated, and also to congratulate Pope Pius VII on his return from France, on behalf of the King of Naples, the Spanish Don Carlos. He took with him as his chaplain, a holy missionary priest, Don Francesco de Lucia Link Out, who was serving the parish of Mugnano north of Naples. Don Francesco, a cultured and pious priest, was born in Mugnano del Cardinale on September 19, 1772. He completed his studies in the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Lucera. Ordained a priest on September 19, 1796, he opened a school of philosophy and literature in Naples. He quickly gained the esteem and affection of distinguished Neapolitan people in education circles. Amongst these was the Venerable Jesuit Servant of God, Guiseppe Maria Pignatelli.
Don Francesco De LuciaDon Francesco De LuciaDon Francesco had a heavy heart. His parish was infested with impurities of revolutionary ideas, resentment against the authority of the Church, unbelief, and immorality. His secret hope was to get the Bishop to use his authority to get him the relics of a martyr - a Saint who would come back with him and help him convert his parish. He knew exactly what he wanted - a virgin martyr whose name was known.
The Guardian of the Custodia Generale, which Don Francesco soon got permission to visit, was evidently taken by this devout and humble priest, and said he would help him acquire what he desired, and told him to choose among the relics in the Custodia. In mid-May, Don Francesco was taken to the Treasure House of Relics, which was under the care of a worthy guardian, Monsignor Don Giacinto Ponzetti. There were those of thirteen martyrs, but only the names of three were known - one was a child, one an adult and then there was ‘Filumena.’ He had wanted a virgin martyr from the start, but what was more, when he stood before the case containing Filumena’s relics, he felt alive with spiritual joy, and it was as though She instantly took away the heaviness of his heart. This was undoubtedly the helper he wanted! The Guardian promised to arrange for this. Imagine his disappointment, then, when the official reply came that bodies of martyrs whose names were known were so few, that such as were found must be kept for special churches or dioceses.
His sadness doubled. Rome is not the best place in which to spend the summer - or at least it was not in those days, when the marshes of the Campagna had not been drained. As a result of the intense heat, and his considerable worry and disappointment, Don Francesco’s health began to decline. A friend offered him the relics of an unnamed martyr to comfort him, but he would not accept it. He was convinced that only Filumena could help him convert his parish. One night when he was burning with fever, he promised that if Filumena would grant him sleep, he would do everything possible to take her as his patron to Mugnano. Miraculously, his fever was gone and he fell asleep awakening in perfect health.
This confirmed to him that Filumena wanted to come with him to Mugnano just as much as he did. This time he went to the newly consecrated Bishop, and asked him to use his influence. When the Bishop heard the story, he agreed that the Saint appeared to want to go to Mugnano, and added his request to Don Francesco’s. The Guardian gladly acted on this permission to entrust the relics to Don Francesco and felt certain that Filumena would perform miracles in Mugnano.
Delighted, the good Bishop and Don Francesco took possession of the precious casket, and proceeded to bring Filumena to Naples. With many prayers and every honor, the casket was placed in the front of the Episcopal carriage.
Saint Philomena and La Salette
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The cortege was due in the little town on Sunday, August 10, and on the vigil, bells were joyfully rung to announce the event. At dawn, a messenger was sent by Don Francesco to proclaim that the sacred body was coming. Soon an unusual excitement reigned, and crowds were seen proceeding from all directions to meet and welcome Her. The day was to be noted as a memorable one in the archives of Mugnano. More than forty priests in their richest vestments, the members of the various confraternities and representatives from the neighboring parishes went in procession displaying their banners. The road was strewn with olive branches and exquisite flowers. When the body came into sight, all the bells were heard "sprinkling air with holy sounds," and heavenly music, sounds of bomb and gun fire, and groups of young men and young girls united in song welcomed Her in the most honorable way.
After entering the town the cortege took fully two hours to reach the church of the Madonna del grazie. Upon arrival of the sacred body, it was deposited under a triumphal dias near the Gospel side of the high altar, and Solemn High Mass was sung.
Don Francesco de Lucia Link Out, to give a solid and profound base to the devotion to the Saint, founded the Association of the Children of St. Philomena. He was the first rector of the sanctuary and most vigilant guardian of the holy remains of the Saint. He dedicated his priestly life for the glory of God and for souls. After 41 years of untiring apostolate in the propagation of devotion to Saint Filumena in all the Kingdom of the Two Sicilys, acquiring the regard of cardinals and bishops, he rendered his great soul to God on April 9, 1847.
January 30, 1837 - Pope Gregory XVI Confirmed the Feast of St. Philomena Established as August 11
Pope Gregory XVIPope Gregory XVIFor thirty years miracles continued to increase in number at Mugnano, and the glory of the "Thaumaturga" (Wonder-worker) filled the Universe. Various appeals were addressed to the Holy See so that a feast day might be established, and an Office and Mass permitted in her honor.
In 1835, Pauline Jaricot, Foundress of the great French lay social institution in aid of the missions, Propagation of the Faith, and also foundress of the Association of the Living Rosary, and of other good works, was close to death. She suffered from a heart disease which had affected her health for some years and had left her suffering from frequent heart attacks. She had been unable to walk for the previous year and a quarter. The slow deterioration was leading to death. Doctors had given up on her case and deemed it hopeless.
Drawn by an irresistible attraction, she wanted to visit Rome and the Holy Father. When she arrived at Rome after a terrible journey, her state was such that she could not go to the Vatican, and it was the Holy Father who went to visit her in the convent of Trinita dei Monti. The young lady asked Pope Gregory XVI if he would approve the cult of Saint Filumena, if she was cured by the Saint.
"Surely, my child," replied the august Pontiff, "for that would indeed be a first class miracle." This miracle indeed took place at the Sanctuary of Saint Filumena. On her return to Rome, the Sovereign Pontiff wanted Miss Jaricot to stay a full year there until all doubts about the completeness of the cure were quashed. Then, in a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, confirmed by the Pope on January 30, 1837, the feast of Saint Philomena was established as the eleventh of August.
A recount of the miracle:
Toward the evening of Saturday, August 9, 1835, vigil of the feast of the Translation of Saint Filumena, during the Solemn Vespers, a French lady was seen to arrive accompanied by her chaplain, a maid and a servant. These last two, with much trouble, lowered their mistress from the coach onto a chair, and carried her through the crowd to the foot of the altar of the Reliquary where she remained in prayer until the end of the function.
After 15 months of suffering, the lady was pallid, wasted and weak. Being in the final stages of heart disease, she resembled more a corpse than a live person.
The next day, on August 10, she was taken to the Sanctuary a number of times to participate in various Masses and to receive Holy Communion. She attended the Evening Office as she had on Monday. Her sad state was observed by a number of doctors from Naples who had come for the feast day celebrations.
Up until that evening, she gave no sign of improvement though she later revealed that she had felt herself healed soon after Communion, but was afraid to announce it because of the commotion the people would make. However, after the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, when the people had left, she rose and walked back to her lodging without help. She had truly been cured. When they quickly found out, the enthusiasm of the public was indescribable. At the second hour of the night, 9:30 p.m., the church bells pealed, and the shouts of joy of the crowds replied. Miss Jaricot had to show herself to satisfy the wishes of the people.
Out of gratitude she took the haven of the daughters of Saint Filumena: The Little Sisters of St. Philomena, and added to her name those of Philomena-Maria. The same gratitude brought her back to Mungano in 1839 for a four-day visit. After cruel trials, borne with the resignation and serenity of the Saints, she entered into the sleep of the just on January 9, 1862. Her body rests in the Church of Saint Polycarp awaiting the honor of being raised to the altars. The process of her beatification has been under way for a number of years.
On January 30, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI issued a solemn pontifical decree confirming the rescript of the Congregation of Rites authorizing Saint Philomena’s public cultus and approving the office, Mass of the Common of a virgin and martyr with a proper fourth lesson at Matins in honor of St. Philomena, virgin and martyr on August 11. This papal approval of public liturgical devotion was first granted to the clergy of the Diocese of Nola, and later extended to other dioceses, including Rome itself. The fourth lesson officially inserted into the Breviary in liturgical honor of Saint Philomena on August 11 acknowledges the finding of her remains in the Priscilla catacombs, her martyrdom status, the rapid spread of her extensive popular devotion amidst the faithful due to her miraculous intercession, and the permission of the Pope to celebrate liturgically the office and mass in her honor (as here presented):
DIE XI AUGUSTI
IN FESTO S. PHILUMENAE
Virginis et Martyris
In II NOCTURNO - LECTIO IV
Inter cetera martyrum sepulcra, quae in coemeterio Priscillae ad viam Salariam reperiri solent, illud exstitit quo repositum fuerat sanctae Philumenae corpus, uti ex tumuli inscriptione, tribus laterculis apposita, perlegebatur. Licet vero inventa fuerit phiala sanguinis, et alia descripta conspicerentur martyrii insignia, dolendum tamen est res ab eadem gestas actaque ac genus martyrii quod ipsa fecit obscura perstitisse. Ceterum ubi primum sacrum hoc corpus, ex beneficentia Pii septimi initio pontificatus ejus acceptum, cultui fidelis populi propositum fuit Mugnani in Nolana dioecesi, ingens illico famae celebritas ac religio erga sanctam martyrem percrebuit, praesertim ob signa quae ejusdem praesidio accessisse undique ferebatur. Hinc factum est ut complurium antistitum cultorumque martyris postulationibus permotus Gregorius decimus sextus pontifex maximus, universa rei ratione mature perpensa, festum ejusdem cum Officio et Missa in memorata Nolana dioecesi et alibi agendum benigne permiserit.
C.M Episcop. Praenest. Card. PEDICINIUS;
S. R. E. Vice- C. S.R.C. Praef.;
V. PESCETELLI S. Fidei Promotor.
In summary, Pope Gregory XVI in a papal decree, granted official approbation of the liturgical cultus and, thereby, official ecclesiastical recognition of the sanctity of St. Philomena, virgin and martyr. The Pontiff, fully aware of the absence of any historical account of the martyr Saint "Filumena," granted to her the privileges of public liturgical veneration based upon the foundation of the great quantity of miracles ecclesiastically documented and recognized as having occurred through her direct intercession.
The official positive decree of Pope Gregory XVI in papal recognition of Saint Philomena’s status as deserving of liturgical cult reinforces the deeper truth that far more important than the historical account of Philomena’s earthly life is the historical and documented account of her powerful intercession for the Church as sanctioned by God himself. Whoever this early Christian martyr is and whatever constitutes the particular circumstances of her life and death, God is pleased with prayers of petition offered in the name of "St. Philomena," to which He has responded generously to the Christian faithful in granting an abundance of heavenly favors.
The historical abundance of miracles attests to God’s desire to encourage devotion to the person behind the name of Filumena, regardless of the absence of a recorded history of her earthly life. This primacy of importance of her actual intercession for the people of God in our own times, over the details of her earthly life in ancient times, is what the Pope and the Church confirmed in the raising of St. Philomena to the level of public liturgical veneration, the beginning of the process of her public recognition as Saint and martyr.
Magisterial Decrees Pertaining To Devotion to St. Philomena
From the liturgical approval of Pope Gregory XVI to the papal decrees of St. Pius X, Nineteen acts of the Holy See in the course of five successive pontificates were issued in positive promotion of popular devotion to Saint Philomena expressed in the form of elevations in rank of liturgical cultus, the erection of confraternities and archconfraternities, and the granting of plenary and partial indulgences.
Several acts of the Holy See particularly display the Magisterium’s approval and encouragement of ecclesial devotion to this Christian Saint and martyr. Beyond the elevation of the rank of the mass and office previously granted by Pope Gregory XVI, Bl. Pius IX approved a proper mass and office dedicated to St. Philomena with the papal confirmation of the previously submitted decree, Etsi decimo on January 31, 1855, a significant liturgical elevation, even though her name was never entered into the Roman Martyrology. The granting of a proper mass and office to Saint Philomena, which took place following the return of Bl. Pius IX from a papal pilgrimage to Mugnano during his forced exile from Rome, was an unprecedented act in honor of a Christian martyr known only by name and evidence of martyrdom. Bl. Pius IX also granted plenary and partial indulgences to devotions in honor of St. Philomena at the Sanctuary in Mugnano.
Pope Leo XIII granted papal approbation to the Cord of Saint Philomena with several plenary indulgences in association with its wearing, and accorded the title and privilege of "archconfraternity" for the respective Philomenian devotion and work in France. Pope St. Pius X continued the papal succession of encouragement for public Church devotion by approving the extension of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena to the universal Church.
Far more than one solitary papal act by Pope Gregory XVI, the papal Magisterium has repeatedly encouraged the nature and growth of ecclesial devotion to Saint Philomena, in official recognition of her status as a Saint, in public liturgical and devotional sanctions which extended to the universal faith and life of the Church, and thereby manifesting official and essential liturgical and devotional characteristics of her status as a Saint as defined by the Church.
St. John Vianney, beyond any other Saint or Blessed, manifested an expansive testimony of faith and documented witness toward the reality of St. Philomena and her profound intercessory efficacy. The CurÉ, as recorded in the canonization process, attributed all the miracles documented at Ars to have been affected through Saint Philomena’s intercession; repeatedly spoke of having received apparitions of St. Philomena; and directly attributed his own personal miraculous cure from grave illness to her intercession.
The testimony and cure of Ven. Pauline Jaricot through the intercession of the young martyr Saint has been noted. St. Peter Julian Eymard was cured from serious illness after having been instructed by St. John Vianney to pray a novena to Saint Philomena. St. Peter Channel, the first Oceanian martyr, preached of St. Philomena and referred to her as his "auxiliary" in his missionary apostolate.
Blessed Damien de VeusterBlessed Damien de VeusterSaint Joseph Damien de Veuster of Molokai Link Out dedicated his first chapel in Molokai to the young Saint. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat consistently invoked Saint Philomena during difficulties in the establishment of her societies, and attributed the miraculous cure of a dying novice to her intercession.
Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, as related in her beatification proceedings, applied oil burned before the tomb of St. Philomena to the eye of her grandchild who had been medically diagnosed with an incurable pupil tear of the eye, and the eye was immediately healed. Other Saints and Blesseds who manifested veneration to Saint Philomena include St. Magdalene of Canossa, Bl. Bartolo Longo, Bl. Annibale Da Messina, and Bl. Pius IX, who, shortly before his death, sent to Mugnano the chalice presented to him by the Belgian Federation of Catholic Circles on his golden Episcopal anniversary as one of several papal votive gifts sent in honor of and gratitude to St. Philomena.
The wisdom inherent in sanctity as personified in the lives of the aforementioned Saints and Blesseds provides a substantial confirmation of the decrees of the ordinary Magisterium which granted public ecclesiastical devotion to the martyr Saint. Worthy of particular mention is the significant number of Saints and Blesseds who immediately participated in veneration of Saint Philomena within the same half century of the discovery of her sacred remains, some before any certain statement concerning her public veneration was issued by Rome.
Note also the predominant importance of the supernatural intervention of miracles in the Church process of canonization. Without the documented miracles, an individual cause does not typically advance past the status of "Servant of God," even with extensive historical evidence of an earthly life of heroic virtue. The Church places its greatest emphasis for canonization, along with an essential historical basis, upon God’s witness to the sanctity of the candidate through the manifestation of miraculous intercession by the person. It was therefore most appropriate for Pope Gregory XVI to give far greater importance to the miracles documented to the intercession of St. Philomena, rather than to the history of her earthly existence beyond the Church approved criteria of historically establishing her martyrdom. The present inquiry into the case of Saint Philomena should follow the same criteria as those followed by Popes Gregory XVI, Bl. Pius IX, Leo XIII and St. Pius X.
Papal Approbation of the devotion to Saint Philomena
This solemn approbation of the Church was not bestowed upon the devotion to St. Philomena until after many and frequent supplications to that effort had been sent to Rome from both faithful and bishops; in fact, from almost the entire episcopate of Italy. The Pope treated this affair with the maturity and prudent circumspection which presides over all the decisions of Rome; because it was an important matter, requiring being carefully and deliberately weighed, on account of its novelty in the Church, and the marvelous circumstances accompany it.
Accordingly he desired that this matter, namely, the promulgation of a decree authorizing the publics worship of Saint Philomena, should be debated by the Congregation of Rites, and moreover, after that august assembly had given an answer in the affirmative on September 6, 1834, he kept silence for over two years more, and only gave a definite judgment on the subject when he had prayed much, had seen with his own eyes the extraordinary cure worked by the Saint o Pauline Marie Jaricot and had heard authentic reports of the many prodigies of the Saint.
The Decree authorizing the devotion and granting leave to the clergy of the diocese of Nola to say in honor of St. Philomena the Office and Mass of the Common of a Virgin Martyr with the prayer Deus qui inter caetera, and a proper fourth lection, was published to the world on the thirtieth of January, 1837. This lection, which had been revised and corrected by Cardinal Pedicini, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, and P. Pascetelli, Promoter of the faith, was officially introduced into the Roman Breviary in the Supplement, Pro aliquibus locis. It forms the whole of the first and a portion of the second of the three lections afterwards granted in honor of the Saint.
Shortly after this, many other bishops obtained for their own dioceses the same favor that had been granted to that of Nola, and, moreover, the feast of Saint Philomena was inserted in the calendar of the Roman clergy, and her office place din the Proper Pro clero uris, for August 19th.
In March, 1839, the same Pontiff, Gregory XVI, by a decree of the Congregation of Rites, gave leave to the clergy of Mugnano to keep her feast as a greater double; and in like manner on January 1, 1841, he raised it to a double of the second class.
A later set of the Holy See has consecrated in a still more solemn manner the public worship of St. Philomena; namely, the Decree Elsi decimosexto issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and approved by the Sovereign Pontiff Pius IX., on the 11th of January 1854; granting leave to the clergy of Mugnano to celebrate the feast of the Saint with a proper Office and Mass, which was also approved by the Sovereign Pontiff.
It should be noted that this is the only instance of a proper Office being granted in honor of a Saint from the Catacombs, of whom nothing was known except her name and the fact of her martyrdom. The three Lections granted for the Office will be found at the end of this Chapter.
With regard to the private acts of the Sovereign Pontiff; Leo XII., after reading the account of her written by Don Francesco di Lucia, was filled with admiration for his holy martyr: he blessed God for the power He had bestowed upon her, and authorized the creation of chapels in her honor. He gave his blessing to the holy women who devote themselves to good works under the invocation of this Saint and are known as the Monacelle, or Little Sisters of Saint Philomena. Seeing the strict rule under which they lived, their uniformity of habit, &c., he imagined that they must live in the seclusion of monasteries; but when he heard how great was their number, and that they led this holy life in the bosom of their own families, and spread abroad their salutary example wherever they went, in church, in the streets, or in the fields, he was delighted, and said these words spontaneously: - This miracle is greater then any other miracle worked by the Saint. What! In an age of universal corruption, in a kingdom so lately subjected to so many vicissitudes of religion, these pure souls have arisen to thread publicly underfoot the world and the flesh! I now bless them all!" And raising his right hand making the sign of the cross, he repeated, "May they all be blessed!" The order of the Little Sisters of St. Philomena was founded by Don Francesco in honor of Saint Philomena – and for the consolation of the many should who longed to dedicate their lives to the service of God by imitating the purity of their beloved Saint.
Gregory XVI never called St. Philomena anything by, "The great Saint," or, "The Thaumaturga of the nineteenth century." He blessed a picture of her to be exposed to public veneration at the Caravita in Rome, where she had a chapel. He also named her patron of the Living Rosary. When Mgr. afterwards Cardinal, Feretti paid his second visit to Mugnano, he was the bearer of a large silver and gold lamp presented to the Saint by Pope Gregory XVI.
Pope Pious IX., who credits Saint Philomena of his miraculous cure while Archbishop of Imola, himself introduced the devotion to the Saint into his Cathedral city; he assisted at the triduo held on the occasion, celebrated Mass and preached on the last day of it.
During his exile from Rome after he was Pope, he made a pilgrimage in person to the shrine of St. Philomena. The Holy Father arrived at the railway station of Nola at nine in the morning of the seventh of November, 1849, accompanied by his usual suite, and also by Cardinal Antonelli, and the Apostolic Nuncio at the Court of Naples, Mgr Garibaldi, Archbishop of Myra in partibus. He was received with all due formality by the authorities and he walked to his carriage between two files of young men belonging to the Congregation of St. Aloysius, who with olive branches and lighted candles in their hands, changed Hosanna to the Representative of the Son of David. All the streets of the town were thus lined by two rows of the laity distributed in the various confraternities of the town and the vicinity, who had hastened to do honor to the Holy Father and to receive his blessing.
Although he had given no certain notice of his intention and nothing was known about his visit save an uncertain rumor that had reached them two days before all the villages through which he passed during the six miles drive to Mugnano vied with one another to welcome him and show him honor. Triumphant arches were erected with appropriate inscriptions, bands of music were stationed beneath them, flowers and myrtles were strewn along his road, the clergy in their sacred vestments, with the confraternities and their banners, came forth to meet him, the young men with green boughs in their hands shouted Evviva! And all decked their houses as best they could; the rich by adorning them with splendid hangings, the poor by showing what they deemed their best pieces of furniture.
Thus amid the tears of joy of the devout populace, the Holy Father arrived at the foot of the steps leading to the church of Saint Philomena at Mugnano. Here he was received by the Bishop of Nola, who had come thither to meet him, and by the King of Naples, who knelt on the bare ground to assist him to alight, and who, when the Holy Father offered him his hand, begged for and obtained leave to kiss his gout. The Queen with her seven children, the princes and princesses of the Royal gamily, were kneeling on the steps leading up to the Church, to implore the benediction of the Holy Father.
The Sovereign Pontiff entered the church to the tones of the Ecce Sacedos Magnus, sung by the orphans educated by the Sisters of Charity in their convent adjoining the sanctuary. The Holy Father then celebrated the Holy Sacrifice at the altar where the relics of the Virgin Martyr are preserved, and afterwards heard another Mass said by his chaplain, according to his custom. He then received into his hands from the Bishop of Nola the reliquary containing the blood of St. Philomena, singed his own august forehead with it, and held it for the King and Queen and the princes who were present to kiss.
A throne had been prepared for him in the schoolroom of the Sisters, and the Holy Father repaired thither preceded by the clergy and accompanied by the Royal Family and his suite. Here he deigned to admit to the kissing of his feet the Rector of the sanctuary, the clergy of the parish the Fathers of the Congregation of St. Peter from Cesarano, the Sisters of Charity, the municipal authorities, and the gentlemen of the neighborhood. He then partook of some refreshment, and after imparting his blessing from a balcony to the immense crowds who filled the square, the front of church, the neighboring windows, and even the roofs of the houses, he returned to Naples.
In memory of the event he granted permission to the Rector of the Sanctuary to wear the dress of prelates, and to officiate in Pontifical. He also granted many indulgences to those who visit the shrine of Saint Philomena, and various other privileges.
This Papal pilgrimage contributed not a lintel to augment and propagate the devotion to St. Philomena.
During his sojourn at Naples, Pope Pius IX. Appointed Saint Philomena one of the secondary patrons of the kingdom; and in 182, he named her patron of the Enfants de Marie, and confirmed her title of protector of the Living Rosary.
Leo XIII., also, whilst Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Benevento, made two pilgrimages to Mugnano; and after he became Pope, he sent a valuable cross from the Vatican Supposition to the Rector of the church where the Saint lies. He also enriched the various Confraternities of St. Philomena with numerous Indulgences.
A solemn feast is kept in Rome in honor of Saint Philomena on the second Sunday in August, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, and at the Filippine on the 19th of the same month. She is venerated also in various other churches in Rome.
The following are translations of the proper Lections granted for the Office of St. Philomena:
I - Among the different sepulchers of Martyrs which were accustomed to be discovered in the cemetery of Pricilla, on the Via Salaria, there appeared that one wherein the body of Saint Philomena had been laid; as was stated in the inscription of the tomb, place upon three tiles. Yet, although a phial of blood was found there, and other tokens of martyrdom were to be seen inscribed thereupon it is nevertheless to be regretted that her life, her acts and, the kind of martyrdom which she suffered have remained in obscurity.
II - As soon as the sacred body, which was obtained from the munificence of Pius VII., at the commencement of his Pontificate, was exposed to the veneration of the faithful at Mugnano, in the diocese of Nola, an immense celerity of renown and devotion towards this holy Martyr was spread abroad in those parts; especially on the account of the miracles which were said on all sides to have been worked through her patronage. Hence, not only holy prelates and distinguished ecclesia.
Listen to the Story
This WaysideAudio file relates the events leading to the discovery of the remains of the child martyr St. Philomena in the catacombs of Rome. A vile of dried blood is discovered which to the amazement of all present, transforms its appearance to that of sparkling diamonds. So begins a series of events.
The relics of the child martyr, now clothed in fine silks and honored in the parish church of Mugnano, become the centre of many miracles. One miracle bears special significance however, that of the cure of the now venerable, Pauline Jaricot.
Following the prayers of a holy nun, Saint Philomena reveals the details of her martyrdom. Her imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Emperor Diocletian, and of her final demise.
The fourteen Holy Helpers lead us to the children of Fatima and on to the present day. We hear from Father Luke, Spiritual adviser to the living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena. We hear some of the testimonies of those who's lives have been touched by the child martyr, Saint Philomena.
The name of the glorious Virgin and Martyr, Saint Philomena, is not as well known as it should be. One reason is that many of the Saints' from the catacombs era were removed from the Liturgical calendar in the upheaval of Vatican II. Yet, devotion to St. Philomena is permanently sealed in Heaven by a number of Pontiffs, Saints, and by those who have given testimony to the great power this Wonder Worker has before the Throne of God. Turn to St. Philomena, lover of chastity and purity, with confidence, love and trust; she is always so kind to those who implore her intercession, she is the very Saint needed in today's hedonistic, slavishly sinful culture.
Who has not heard of the Catacombs of Rome-----those wonderful, hidden passages and corridors, the subterranean chambers dug out in the bowels of the earth and forming, as it were, a belt of underground fortresses around and in close vicinity of the Eternal City. After St. Peter's and a visit to the Holy Father, the Catacombs are the great sight of Rome. Here venerable Pontiffs, saintly Bishops, spotless Virgins, and fearless Martyrs, gathered in secret to celebrate the Divine Mysteries. Here they met in the evening and a few short hours later, they were being devoured by lions in the arena, and when the darkness of the night again overshadowed the earth, their mangled remains were borne back for the last benediction to the feet of Christ's Vicar on earth. then they were reverently enclosed in crypts hallowed out in the soft stone, where side by. the living dwelt with the dead-----those resting after their labors, and those awaiting their summons to the battleground.
The Catacombs are sunk deep in the earth, 30 to 50 feet below the surface-----and are reached by a steep stairway, They consist of long narrow passages opening out into chambers and shooting off into long branches in a maze of cross streets. In order to avoid detection by the Roman guards. the entrance was carefully concealed. If discovered the arrangement of the underground citadel afforded easy hiding.
The precise date of the first catacombs is not known. The pagans cremated their dead, a custom abhorrent to Christians. Like the Jews they preferred to bury their dead, in the custom of the time, in vaults cut out in the rock, as in the Sepulchre. But since. however, the persecution started in the reign of Nero [A.D. 54-68], and the Christians could not safely perform burial services in the presence of their heathen enemies above ground, it is clear that from a very early date the subterranean cemeteries began to be carved out.
The Catacombs are enormous: over 6 million Christians are buried in them, as a result of 300 years of 10 bloody persecutions. There are over 60 Catacombs alone around Rome, while others are scattered over different parts of Italy, france, Greece and Asia Minor. The catacombs were abandoned when Constantine gave lasting peace to the Catholic Church, and hiding places were no longer needed. But they are still venerated and remain places of pilgrimage, for they are the holy resting places of the heroes and heroines of the early Church. During the period of the Goths and the Lombard tribes, the vaults were raided of any stored treasure. Then later the relics of the Saints and Martyrs were transferred to the great basilicas and other Sanctuaries erected for them by the Roman Patricians and the Popes, where they would be more accessible to the veneration of the faithful.
THE FINDING OF THE BODY OF ST. PHILOMENA
It was on May 24, 1802 that excavators came on a loculus or chamber that had never been violated. Everything pointed to the fact that the chamber was exactly as it had been when the precious remains were enclosed there long centuries before. The discovery was looked upon from the first as something remarkable, and the opening of the sarcophagus was marked for Mary 25. On arriving at the spot, the learned custodian noted that the vault was walled up with 3 terra cotta slabs on which were the following symbols of martyrdom and bearing these descriptions:
LUMENA ----- PAX TE ----- CUM FI
It would seem that the slabs had been misplaced, as can happen in the haste of burial. The first slab should have been in third place and when this is done, the inscription becomes clear at once:
PAX TE CUM FI LUMENA PEACE BE WITH YOU, PHILOMENA
This tomb is considered an excellent specimen of its kind and is rendered most valuable by the inscription on it of the very name of the Martyr whose remains were therein enclosed, a fact of rare occurrence.
1. The Anchor, resembling the Cross, an emblem of hope and is also a sign of martyrdom at times, as anchors were fastened to the necks of some priests and others as they were thrown into the sea, as Pope St. Clement the First was. Some hold that St. Philomena was cast into the Tiber.
2. Two Arrows, one pointing upwards, and the other downwards, betoking a type of death common to martyrs of the period.
3. The Lance, of similar significance.
4. The Palm, the emblem of the martyr's triumph.
5. The Lily, symbol of purity and chastity.
Upon opening the tomb, the relics of a Virgin were found, with a glass vase containing a portion of her blood in dried form. Tests performed on the vials found in the Catacombs have demonstrated that blood was in them. But in the case of St. Philomena, we have even greater certainty of its authenticity than any given by the scientific process. The wonders wrought daily in and by this precious relic, and witnessed by countless pilgrims., as well as by ecclesiastical experts, furnish us with supernatural proof of the relic's genuineness.
The bones, blood, and ashes of the Saint were carefully placed in a wooden case which was sealed in three places. This taken above ground and reopened for minute examination. The skull was found to have been fractured and the bones were those of a young girl about thirteen years of age.
Little is known historically of our Saint previous to her Martyrdom. Her history for us commences in May of 1802 after having rested in the obscurity of the Catacomb of St. Priscilla for 1,700 years:
After the relics of the saint had been exhumed, they were left at Rome until 1805. At that time Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, a small town near Naples, visited the Eternal City. He was filled with the ardent desire of procuring the relics of some martyred saint for his private chapel. Since the Bishop of Potenza, whom he had accompanied to Rome, supported his petition, Canon Francis de Lucia was allowed to visit the Treasury of Relics, a large hall where the exhumed remains of several saints were preserved. On pausing before the relics of Saint Philomena, he was suddenly filled with an unaccountable spiritual joy, and at once begged for them. It was with some difficulty that the relics were finally consigned to him, since it was contrary to custom to bestow such treasures on a simple priest. Through the negotiations of a friend, the body of another saint was at first given to him, which he accepted with reluctance.
THE MARVELS OF MUGNANO
In the meantime, Canon de Lucia became very ill. He prayed to Saint Philomena and was instantly cured. This renewed his attempts to procure her relics, and shortly after, the insurmountable difficulties to his possessing them were overcome, whereupon he had them taken to Naples. The travelers lodged in the house of a good friend in that city. There the relics were encased in a statue of the saint, especially made for the purpose, and this in turn was placed in a wooden casket. Soon many miracles took place. Lady Angela Rose, the mistress of the house, had suffered twelve years from an incurable disease; she begged the saint's intercession and was instantly healed. Others, too, obtained wonderful cures.
TRANSFER OF HER RELICS TO MUGNANO
On the 10th of August, 1805, the relics of the Saint were transferred to Mugnano, a hill town near Naples and the home of Canon de Lucia. Continuous miracles of every kind accompanied this transfer. The day before their arrival, at the prayers of the inhabitants, a plentiful rain refreshed the fields and meadows of Mugnano after a long season of drought. Lord Michael Ulpicella, a lawyer, who had not been able to leave his room for six weeks, had himself carried to the relics and returned home completely cured. A lady of rank had a cancerous ulcer on her hand which required an operation. A relic of the saint was brought to her. In the evening she placed it on the wound. The following morning, when the surgeon arrived to operate, he found to his surprise that the wound had disappeared. Saint Philomena's shrine at Mugnano became the scene of the most marvelous prodigies. Among these was the cure of Pauline Jaricot, which is known as the "Great Miracle of Mugnano." It was this cure which, after a long and mature deliberation, led to the formal approval of the cult of Saint Philomena by Pope Gregory XVI, who declared it a first class miracle. The Pope, in his decree decree, called the saint "The Thaumaturga [Wonder Worker] of the Nineteenth Century." This title, as thousands attest, she deserves no less in our day, for her miracles are as numerous and as brilliant as ever.
THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE
On the left-hand side of the Church in Mugnano and in front of the chapel where the blood of the Martyr is preserved lies the wax figure containing the bones of the Martyr. [One of the links on the previous page has a picture of this.] This rests is a magnificent urn, the front of which has a crystal plate, enabling the visitor to see the image distinctly. This figure is clothed in rich robes, and on one of the fingers of the right hand is a gold ring set with topaz, one of the many gifts personally sent by Pope St. Pius X to the Saint. The image, like the blood, undergoes extraordinary transformations-----the blood, for instance, changes into particles that look like a cross, presaging some sorrow, then the blood returns to is dried, ashen-like state.
The statue in which the bones of the young Martyr are encased was-----when it first came from the hands of the artist-----far from being a work of art. The first change noticeable in the statue took place almost immediately after the arrival of the Saint's relics in Mugnano on the 29th of September, 1805. The awkward pose was now graceful, the tone of the countenance, delicate and bright [where once it had been a morbid white by the artist's rendition], and the grimace around the mouth gave place to a pleasing smile. Now please note well, that the case had been sealed and the key kept in Naples, so this change appears spontaneous and not from human effort.
The next change was 20 years later: The first case was replaced by one more beautiful. The hair had become more luxuriant and the eyes opened several times during public devotions, and when the statue was put in the new case, which was a foot longer than the original, her feet moved to extend to fit the end of the case. Then in 1841, a new, striking prodigy occurred. The statue was so placed that only the profile could be seen by those standing in front. When the throng of people one day were looking at the Saint's image, it turned around so that fully three-fourths of it was then visible. In May of 1892, the statue again changed position in presence of an entire pilgrimage and the change was duly authenticated by ecclesiastical authorities. The other astonishing thing about this miraculous image is that from time to time there is sign from, like a sharp report against the glass of the case, which comes from time to time when some devotee of the Saint is praying there. It happened to Fr. Paul O' Sullivan, one of out sources for this presentation.
WHO WAS ST. PHILOMENA?
Despite many learned investigations, nothing has been discovered to throw light on the personal history of St. Philomena previous to the discovery of her relics in the Catacombs. Some of her ardent clients, however, emboldened by the sweet graciousness with which the dear Little Saint is accustomed to hear the prayers of her servants, besought her fervently to make known to them who she was and what she suffered for Jesus Christ. Their prayers were heard and the Saint has revealed to three of them, people living far apart and unknown to each other, the story of her life and martyrdom. These revelations, though of a private revelation, are nevertheless striking and carry with them no small weight of probability. The fact that they were made to three different persons and yet identical, is to say the least, a very extraordinary coincidence. Moreover, they tally with what is in keeping with the symbols that were found on her sarcophagus. These revelations have been widely published and the book containing them given an Imprimatur by the Holy Office on December 21, 1833, to certify that nothing contained in it is harmful to the Faith or morals. We will only provide a small encapsulation of the revelations, as we prefer to encourage you to buy Fr. O' Sullivan's book from TAN BOOKS: HERE for the book and the poster image
St. Philomena was the daughter of the king of a small Grecian state and her mother was also of royal lineage. They were pagans who worshipped false gods. They had no children and prayed to these idols for a child. There was staying with them at the time a doctor from Rome, Publius, who was a Catholic and now a Saint, was touched by their "blindness" and inspired by the Holy Ghost, decided to speak to them about their false worship and tell them of the one true Catholic Faith. He assured them that their prayers would be heard if they embraced Catholicity. His fervent eloquence reached them, and aided by grace, they were finally Baptized. St. Philomena was born the following year on January 10th, and was named Lumena, or "Light," as she had been born in the light of the Faith, to which her parents were not most devoted. When she herself was Baptized they added to her name, to make Philomena, that is "Friend or Lover of the Light."
Her parents lavished every affection on her and she accompanied them to Rome in her 13th year, to plead for peace from war with the Emperor. The Emperor, while listening to the pleas of her father, kept looking at Philomena; he agreed to terms of peace, but only if Philomena would he is wife. her parents agreed to the request, but Philomena rejected the offer as she had already made a vow to Jesus Christ two years prior, a permanent vow of chastity. Her father tried to change her mind, but seeing her resolution, implore her more to agree to the marriage. The Emperor also renewed his intentions and while they were in Rome, he daily came to see her. Finally in a fit of fury, he had her chained in a dungeon. All through this ordeal her Divine Spouse supported her, as well as His Blessed Mother. This torment lasted for 37 days, when the Queen of Heaven appeared to the Saint, surrounded by a dazzling light, bearing her Divine Son in her arms, telling Philomena that she would be in the dungeon for three more days, saying she would leave on the 40th day of her sorrow, only to undergo a most cruel torture for the love of Jesus Christ, her Son. The Holy Virgin inspired her with courage and told her that she was so beloved by them both, not the least of which reasons why was that she bore the name of them both, Light, as the Sun for Christ, and the Moon for Mary. Our Lady promised the Saint that at the time of her martyrdom she would the Archangel Gabriel himself by her side as her protector against weakness.
She was bound to a pillar, and like Christ before her, she was savagely scourged. Seeing that she was one gaping, agonizing wound, the Emperor had her brought back to the [prison to die. Two bright Angels appeared and poured Heavenly balm on her wounds and she was cured. The Emperor was astonished. Because she still refused his blandishments, he was enraged and gave orders than an iron anchor should be attached to her neck and that she be thrown into the Tiber to drown. But Christ, once more to confound the tyrant, sent two more Angels to cut the cord of the anchor which fell to the bottom of the river and became embedded in the mud. Then the Angels brought her back to the bank without a single drop of water touching her garments. Several bystanders were converted. But Diocletian became more obstinate than ever, declared her a witch and ordered her pierced with arrows. Again Heaven saved her from the death planned for her. On hearing of this new miracle, the Emperor was so infuriated that he ordered the torture to be repeated until death came, but the arrows refused to leave the bow. So he had the arrows heated with flames from a furnace; again it was to no avail, for these last archers were slain by Heaven. More conversions occurred and the people began to show serious signs of disaffection towards the Emperor and even reverence for the Holy Faith. She was beheaded at last and ascended to glory in Heaven. It was 3 PM in the afternoon, of a Friday.
January 10th: Birthday of the Saint; Sunday after January 10th: Patronage day of the Saint; May 25th: Celebration of the finding of the Holy Body of the Saint; August 10th: Celebration of the Translation of the Holy Body and the Martyrdom of the Saint; August 11th: Liturgical Feast in honor of the Saint; August 13th: Celebration of the name of Saint Philomena; Second Sunday of August: Solemn festivities in honor of the Saint;
NOTE: Her Feast day was originally August 10, which also happened to be St. Lawrence's Feast, so out of respect for him, the Church moved the day forward by one. Also note that although the Holy See has not officially canonized her, devotion to her as a Saint has been officially endorsed. See Philomena and the Popes later.
Those who honor the Saint on this Second Sunday of August can receive a Plenary Indulgence, if they confess their sins, receive Holy Communion, say prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father [The minimum of which are one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be]
ST. PHILOMENA AND ST. JOHN VIANNEY [THE CURE D'ARS]
On her return to France from Mugnano, Pauline Jaricot went to visit her dear friend, the venerable Curè of Ars, to whom she recounted the whole history of her miraculous cure. The holy priest, while listening to her with rapt attention, felt a burning love for the Little Saint Philomena enkindle in his heart. Intense was his joy when Pauline offered him a part of the precious relics she had brought with her. A chapel was immediately erected in his church in honor the of the Virgin Martyr, where the relic was placed. The chapel soon became the scene of innumerable cures, conversions, and miracles. St. John Vianney dedicated himself by special vow to Saint Philomena and a marvelous intimacy became evident between the good priest and her whom he now considered his Celestial Patroness.
The little town of Ars, France, has become famous through the holy life and labors of Saint John Vianney, its beloved Curè. And he, perhaps more than any other single individual, has brought to the world's attention the power of his own favorite among the Saints-----Saint Philomena. He was wont to call upon her for every kind of favor, and made her, so to speak, his "miracle-proxy". He used to take refuge under Saint Philomena's cloak, "and throw the blame on her", as someone has said for the extraordinary miracles he himself worked. Saint Philomena solved his financial worries; she converted sinners; she healed malignant diseases; she worked numberless prodigies in answer to his simple prayers. Many are recorded in the biography of the saint, but the unrecorded ones alone would fill a volume. It is said that the Curè did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.
A person once approached the Curè and said: "Is it true, Monsieur le Curè, that Saint Philomena obeys you?" To which the holy priest replied, "And why not, since every day God Himself obeys me at the altar?" A perfect understanding existed between the Curè and his dear little saint, so that he constantly felt the closeness of her presence. He addressed her by the most familiar and tender names, and spared no efforts to induce others to invoke her intercession in their needs of body and soul. Often he would say in his soft penetrating voice which drew all hearts to him: "My children, Saint Philomena has great power with God, and she has, moreover, a kind heart; let us pray to her with confidence. Her virginity and generosity in embracing her heroic martyrdom have rendered her so agreeable to God that He will never refuse her anything that she asks for us." It is said that the Curè did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.
In season and out of season he spoke of her, and recommended novenas to her for the countless intentions of every kind which people referred to him. He earnestly admonished the sick to pray to Saint Philomena. He would bless them and join them in the novena he had instructed them to make, but always impressed on them that all cures were due to the little Saint, and that, after God, it was to her that all gratitude was owing. Filled with intense love for the little Saint, he chose her as his special heavenly patroness, and dedicated himself to her by vow.
Thousands of people came to the chapel of Ars on pilgrimage, for the purpose of invoking the aid of Saint Philomena in their necessities and trials. Tangible evidence, of the favors obtained, the miracles worked, the conversions wrought, the prayers answered, was to be seen in the votive offerings of every type which the grateful recipients of the favors placed at Saint Philomena's shrine.
Due to the fervor of the Curè's devotion to Saint Philomena, and the numerous cures and favors obtained through her intercession, all France soon rang with her name. Every diocese had altars and chapels or churches dedicated to her. But devotion to her was not confined to France. Kings, queens, cardinals, bishops, priests, and a vast multitude of religious and faithful throughout the world acclaim her as their heavenly patroness.
of the many marvels to be seen at Ars during the life of the saintly pastor, none was greater than the daily life of the holy man himself. His frail body was so extenuated with rigorous fasts and penances that his emaciated appearance struck his visitors to Ars with awe. Notwithstanding his extreme weakness, the incessant labors which he took on himself each day were enough to exhaust the most herculean strength, were he endowed with it. Day followed day and crowds thronged to Ars from all parts of France, from England, Ireland and other countries of Europe, The sick, the sorrowful, holy souls as well as the most abandoned sinners, flocked around him, besieging his confessional. One glance from him went straight to the heart of the most hardened reprobate.
At last it seemed that his life was nearly at end. In the beginning of May, 1843 multitudes had been to Ars and he succumbed to awful fatigue. In addition to the ordinary devotions, it was his wont in may to speak from the pulpit. On the third day this year he was forced to stop in the middle of his exhortation. With difficulty he descended the pulpit and laid himself on a couch in his humble room. On the fifth day he was gravely ill with a raging fever and the morning brought no improvement. The holy priest begged for Mass to be said at the little altar of his beloved St. Philomena. Before the Holy Sacrifice began, a strange fear seemed to come over him, some terrible anxiety. But when Mass commenced, the trouble vanished as he seemed to have a vision of something most pleasing. He softly spoke St. Philomena's name several times and then said "i am cured." His convalescence was rapid. Impatient of restraint, he had himself borne to the church where, falling on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament, he poured forth his soul in acts of burning love and adoration. Then rising up, he went to the altar of St. Philomena where he prayed for a long time, for she had indeed appeared to him revealing him secrets that were to fill him with joy until his dying day.
THE DEVOTIONS OF THE POPES TO ST. PHILOMENA
At the beginning of the 19th century, St. Philomena was utterly unknown in the Church and to the world. No mention of her name or Martyrdom had been handed down in tradition, nor do we find any trace in the historical records of the Martyrs. yet, before the century closed, her name resounded throughout Christendom Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, and many others of rank flocked among the crowds that came to Mugnano to pray for her intercession.
A most significant feature of Saint Philomena's renown is the remarkable devotion that the Popes have shown to the little Wonder Worker. Since the finding of her relics, Pope after Pope has shown her public honor and fostered a personal devotion to her. It is indeed remarkable that the highest eulogies of the saint have come from the Sovereign Pontiffs. Pope Leo XII (1823-1829), who preceded Pope Gregory XVI in the Pontifical Chair, expressed the greatest admiration for this unknown child-saint, and gladly gave his permission for the erection of altars and churches in her honor.
Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), who authorized her public veneration, showed his esteem and devotion to the saint by giving her the title of Patroness of the Living Rosary, and donating a magnificent gold and silver lamp to her sanctuary.
Of all the Popes, however, Pope Pius IX cultivated the most special devotion to the Virgin Martyr. As Archbishop of Spoleto, he was one of her devout clients and did much to spread her veneration. Later in life, when Archbishop of Imola, he fell very ill and his cure was attributed to Saint Philomena's intercession. When raised to the throne of St. Peter, this Pope availed himself of his power to bestow still greater luster on the saint at Mugnano, where he offered Holy Mass on the altar of the saint, and afterwards publicly venerated her relics. In 1849, he named her Patroness of the Children of Mary.
Leo XIII imitated his predecessor in the honor shown Saint Philomena during his pontificate. Before his election to the papacy he made two pilgrimages to her shrine. After he became the Vicar of Christ, he gave a valuable cross to the sanctuary. He approved the Confraternity of Saint Philomena, and enriched it with indulgences. Furthermore, he raised it to an Archconfraternity.
No less devoted to the little saint was our beloved St. Pius X. Costly gifts, among them the magnificent gold ring already mentioned, were given by him to her shrine. He often spoke warmly of her and manifested his devotion to her in various ways. Pope Saint Pius X raised the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena to a Universal Archconfraternity and named St. John Vianney its Patron. This Pope and great Saint of Holy Mother the Church solemnly declared:
". . . to discredit the present decisions and declarations concerning Saint Philomena as not being permanent, stable, valid and effective, necessary of obedience, and in full effect for all eternity, proceeds from an element that is null and void and without merit or authority." 
Hail, O innocent Philomena, who, for love of Jesus, preserved the lily of thy virginity in all its brightness. Hail, a illustrious Philomena, who shed thy blood so courageously for Jesus Christ.
I bless the Lord for all the graces He granted thee during thy lifetime, and most especially at the hour of thy death. I praise Him and glorify Him for the honor and power with which He has crowned thee, and I beseech thee to obtain for me from God the graces I request through thy intercession.
Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Amen.
PRAYER TO ST. PHILOMENA FOR PURITY O most pure Virgin, glorious Martyr, St. Philomena, whom God in His eternal power has revealed to the world in these unhappy days in order to revive the faith, sustain the hope and enkindle the charity of Christian souls, behold me prostate at thy feet. Deign, O Virgin, full of goodness and kindness, to receive my humble prayers and to obtain for me that purity for which thou didst sacrifice the most alluring pleasures of the world, that strength of soul which made thee resist the most terrible attacks and that ardent love for our Lord Jesus Christ, which the most frightful torments could not extinguish in thee. So, that wearing thy holy cord and imitating thee in this life, I may one day be crowned with thee in Heaven. Amen.
CHAPLET OF ST. PHILOMENA
Beads: This chaplet consists of three white beads and thirteen red beads.
Method: On the medal say the Apostles' Creed to ask for the grace of faith. On each of the white beads say an Our Father in honor of the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity in thanksgiving for all favors obtained through her intercession. On each of the red beads [which are thirteen in number to commemorate the thirteen years that St. Philomena spent on earth] say the following prayer:
Hail, O holy St. Philomena, whom I acknowledge, after Mary, as my advocate with the Divine Spouse, intercede for me now and at the hour of my death.
St. Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.
In conclusion say: Hail, O illustrious St. Philomena, who shed so courageously your blood for Christ! I bless the Lord for all the graces He has bestowed upon thee during thy life, and especially at thy death. I praise and glorify Him for the honor and power with which He has crowned thee, and I beg thee to obtain for me from God the graces I ask through thy intercession.
O St. Philomena, I place my children in thy keeping. Illustrious Virgin, who so thoroughly understood the excellence of purity, keep their souls pure and holy in the sight of God. Wise young maiden, who so fully comprehended the infinite value of eternal treasures and the shallowness of temporal riches and power, instruct my children in the value of things spiritual. Assist them in building up rich treasures in the storehouse of Heaven, where their wealth can neither be destroyed, nor taken from them.
Courageous Martyr, who died in torment rather than offend the All-Good God, teach my children a true horror of sin and a love of true virtue. I implore thee, St. Philomena, to obtain for them the courage to suffer persecution and tortures bravely rather than to deny Almighty God.
I ask these favours with complete confidence, St. Philomena, because I know that thou, who gave all to God, can obtain all from Him and I am sure that thou whoudst never refuse to hear the prayer of a mother who implores thy help for the eternal salvation of her child. Amen