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.THE CATACOMBS
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
ill. He prayed to Saint Philomena and was instantly cured. This renewed
his attempts to procure her relics, and shortly after, the
difficulties to his possessing them were overcome, whereupon he had
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,
made for the purpose, and this in turn was placed in a wooden casket.
many miracles took place. Lady Angela Rose, the mistress of the house,
had suffered twelve years from an incurable disease; she begged the
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
transfer. The day before their arrival, at the prayers of the
a plentiful rain refreshed the fields and meadows of Mugnano after a
season of drought. Lord Michael Ulpicella, a lawyer, who had not been
to leave his room for six weeks, had himself carried to the
and returned home completely cured. A lady of rank had a
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
morning, when the surgeon arrived to operate, he found to his surprise
that the wound had disappeared. Saint Philomena's shrine at Mugnano
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
this cure which, after a long and mature deliberation, led to the
approval of the cult of Saint Philomena by Pope Gregory XVI, who
it a first class miracle. The Pope, in his decree decree, called the
"The Thaumaturga [Wonder Worker] of the Nineteenth Century." This
title, as thousands attest, she deserves no less in our day, for her
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;
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
decisions and declarations concerning Saint Philomena as not being
stable, valid and effective, necessary of obedience, and in full effect
for all eternity, proceeds from an element that is null and void and
merit or authority." 
Saint Philomena Prayer
Hail, O innocent Philomena, who, for love of Jesus, preserved the lily of thy virginity in all its brightness. Hail, O 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.
LINKS: Verified June 16, 2011
UNIVERSAL LIVING ROSARY WEB SITE
NATIONAL SHRINE OF ST. PHILOMENA
TAN BOOKS: HERE FOR BOOKS, PRAYER CARD
ARCHCONFRATERNITY OF ST. PHILOMENA
CHAPLETS, MEDALS, HOLY CARDS, BOOKS [INCLUDING JARICOT], VOTIVE CANDLE SOURCE 1
CHAPLETS, MEDALS, ROSARIES SOURCE 2: CHAPLET
SANCTUARY OF ST. PHILOMENA, PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL OFFICIAL WEB SITE
HOME----------------------LITANY OF VEN. PAULINE JARICOT-------------VEN. PAULINE JARICOT