304 (August 11)
Feastday: August 11
Patron Babies, Infants, and Youth
is known of her life, and the information was received by private revelation
from her. Martyred at about age 14 in the early days of the Church.
In 1802 the remains of a young woman
were found in the catacomb of Saint Priscilla on the Via Salaria. It was
covered by stones, the symbols on which indicated that the body was a martyr
named Saint Philomena. The bones were exhumed, cataloged, and effectively
forgotten since there was so little known about the person.
In 1805 Canon
Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, Italy
was in the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian
Antiquity (Treasury of Relics) in the Vatican. When he reached the relics
of Saint Philomena he was suddenly struck with a spiritual joy, and
requested that he be allowed to enshrine them in a chapel
in Mugnano. After some disagreements, settled by the cure of Canon
Francis following prayers
to Philomena, he was allowed to translate the relics
to Mugnano. Miracles began to be reported at the shrine including cures of
cancer, healing of wounds, and the Miracle
of Mugnano in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured a severe heart
ailment overnight. Philomena became the only person
recognized as a Saint solely on the basis of miraculous
as nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of
Pope Leo XII granted permission for the erection of altars and churches in
her honor. Pope Gregory XVI authorized her public veneration, and named
her patroness of the Living Rosary. The cure of Pope Pius IX, while archbishop
of Imola, was attributed to Philomena; in 1849, he named her patroness of
of Mary. Pope Leo XIII approved the Confraternity of Saint Philomena, and
raised it to an Archconfraternity. Pope Pius X raised the Archconfraternity
to a Universal Archconfraternity, and named Saint
Vianney its patron. Saint
Vianney himself called Philomena the New Light of the Church Militant, and
had a strong and well-known devotion to her. Others with known devotion to
her include Saint Anthony Mary
Claret, Saint Euphrasia Pelletier, Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Saint
Nepomucene Neumann, Saint Madeline Sophie Barat, Saint Peter Chanel, Saint
Peter Julian Eymard, Blessed Anna
Maria Taigi, and Venerable Pauline Jaricot.
1802, the bones of a female between the ages of 13 and 15 were discovered
in the catacomb of St. Priscilia. An inscription near her tomb
read "Peace be with thee, Philomena", along with drawings of 2
anchors, 3 arrows and a palm. Near her bones was discovered a small glass
vial, containing the remains of blood. Because it was a popular custom of
the early martyrs to leave symbols and signs such as these, it was easily
determined that St.
was a virgin and a martyr. Her popularity soon became widespread, with her
most memorable devotees being St.
Vianney, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, St.
Eymard, and St.
Chanel. After being miraculously cured, Ven. Pauline Jaricot insisted that
Pope Gregory XVI begin an examination
for the beatification of St. Philomena, who was to become known as the
"wonder worker". After hundreds of other miraculous
cures, she was beatified
in 1837. St. Philomena, who the pope named as the Patroness of the Living Rosary
and the Patroness of the Children
of Mary, is the only person
recognized as a saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession,
although pertinent revelations regarding her life
have been recorded. Her relics
are now preserved in Mugnano, Italy.
Provided By: Santuario Santa Filomena
Saint Philomena - Virgin and Martyr
The figure of Philomena, young roman martyr, emerged after nearly
seventeen centuries of silence. Since the finding of her body the
extraordinary presence of St. Philomena in the Church began. Since then
every Pope has venerated her with his personal devotion and millions of
Catholics have felt her beneficial influence. She has been a model
of spiritual life for many Saints, Blessed and Venerable. Great
devotion toward St. Philomena has spread all over the world and Pontiffs
have granted the Saint the Liturgical Cult with Mass and its own Office.
mortal remains were discovered in 1802 in Rome in a catacomb belonging to
Priscilla. There are no biographic records of St. Philomena.
Therefore, the first records about the Saint are the ones that start with
the finding of her tomb in Priscillas
catacombs, to the translation of her body to Mugnano del Cardinale, the
beginning of her providential influence in Church life.
On the three stones that sealed the tomb, were the inscriptions:
and the following symbols:
In 1805, Don Francesco De Lucia, a young priest of Mugnano del Cardinale
of the Diocese of Nola, was in Rome. He nourished the wish of having the
body of a Saint Martyr and with a Name
take to his oratory in Mugnano. Pius VII was moved and donated the
body of St. Philomena. On the first of July Bishop Bartolomeo De Cesare
and Don Francesco left Rome with the Saints
relics. They reached Naples on July 2, 1805. Mons. Vincenzo
Torrusio, Bishop of Nola, officially recognized the sacred relics, and
then placed them in a private chapel.
Once the news spread, there was a massive rush of the faithful. To
avoid disorder, the remains of St. Philomena were displayed for the first
time to public veneration in the parish church of Sant
a Segno, where they remained for three days.
The the sacred relics arrived in Mugnano the morning of August 10th and
were placed in the Church of Our Lady of Grace. Since the wonders
happening were many and the number of devotees kept increasing, a new
Church of Our Lady of Grace was built in Mugnano. It contains a
chapel where the sacred relics were translated on September 29, 1805, and
where they still remain.
In Mugnano, the three stones that sealed St. Philomenas
niche in Priscillas
catacombs, were solemnly displayed for public veneration of the faithful
on August 4, 1827. Apart from the writing, what is striking is the
richness of the symbols: two anchors, three arrows, a palm symbol of
martyrdom, a flower. Externally, on the tomb of St. Philomena, there is
the palm symbol of martyrdom and inside the glass vase with the blood,
which, as we will see in the next chapters, has been subjected to the most
St. Philomena has ascended to the glory of the Altars not for what we
concretely know about her brief earthly existence but for the countless
graces and miracles that God has lavished through her powerful
intercession. That which is missing in the veneration of St. Philomena
regarding historic records, is abundantly compensated by the richness and
multiplicity of all the miracles performed thanks to her intercession from
the day of the translation of her bones from Rome to Mugnano, up until
now. Rightly, Pope Gregory XVI defined her the Thaumaturge of XIX
In the nineteenth century the figure of Philomena, young roman martyr,
conquered hearts. The cult expanded rapidly. Many devotees trusted
her protection and, of these, we remember Pauline Jaricot, founder of the
Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and the Living Rosary; the young
John Maria Mastai Ferretti, who will become Pope with the name of Pius IX
and will be beatified; the shy priest John Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars,
singled out by St Pius X as the guarantor of St. Philomena. They
were all seriously ill and were perfectly cured from their illnesses as a
result in their faith in St. Philomena.
The latin term dies natalis (day of birth) indicates the day in which the
a saint moves from the earthly life to the eternal one. An earthly life
spent observing the precepts of the divine commandments leads to eternal
life. For a martyr, we can affirm what St. Ambrose wrote to the
young martyr St. Agnes: Martirem dixi, satis dixi, which means: having
said martyr, Ive
Mons. Anselmo Basilici, Bishop of Sutri and Nepi, was a tireless promoter
of the cult of St. Philomena. Mons. Basilici had received a few relics
from Mugnano and wanted to divide them between the Churches of his
Diocese. He wanted to please all the applicants, but he did not know how.
At this point the relics prodigiously multiplied themselves. He also
declared that he received requests about relics from Cardinals and Bishops
to promote the devotion and that he managed to meet the demands of
everybody. The on June 17, 1835 a division of the dust belonging to the
sacred Body of St. Philomena was solemnly carried out by in front of many
witnesses that confirmed the prodigy.
What amazes both the ordinary faithful and the diligent researcher about
the Philomena phenomenon is realizing how fast the cult of St. Philomena
is spreading all over the world. For about seventeen centuries her
bones had remained in the oblivion of Priscillas
Catacombs in Rome. In a few years the devotion towards this young
girl has spread in the whole world matching, and even exceeding, the
devotion towards other martyrs venerated in the past.
Before the decree of the Congregation of Rites of 1961, St. Philomena was
venerated and her figure was present in all the hagiography books.
After 1961, not only was she removed from the liturgical calendar, but in
the majority of hagiography books she was treated as a symbol for all
legends. Therefore, just like the other obscured Saints, there were
those who continued to venerate St. Philomena more than ever, while
others, confused, fell by the wayside. If so many High Pontiffs have
approved her cult, St. Philomena is a reality, and cannot be relegated
The importance of the cult of St. Philomena can be evinced not only from
the official Church documents, but also from the personal devotions that
Popes that have had towards our Martyr.
Nearly all the Popes, from 1802 to 1940, have shown a great veneration for
St. Philomena. Some of them have visited the Sanctuary of the Saint
when they were Cardinals of The Holy Roman Church. Pius IX, apart
from having been miraculously cured by the Saint and spreading her
devotion in the diocese of Imola of which he was Pastor, as a Pope he
visited the Sanctuary in Mugnano to venerate the sacred body of Philomena
the martyr. The devotion of the Popes toward our martyr was great,
as shown by their recognitions, privileges and ex voto.
Pius VII (1800-1823). He accomplished the greatest act,
donating to Mugnano the body of St. Philomena.
Leo XII (1823-1829). On the 7th of December 1827, he exclaimed:
She is a great Saint!
Gregory XVI (1831-1846). The Pope himself donated to the Sanctuary
of St. Philomena a precious medallion with his effigy, a big silver lamp
with golden decorations and a golden chalice.
Pius IX (1846-1878). He was cured from his epilepsy by the
intercession of our Saint. When he was Bishop of Imola even his
secretary, Don Joseph Stella, was cured in 1834 by intercession of St.
Leo XIII (1878-1903). He came in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of
Mugnano when he was still Archbishop of Benevento.
On December 15, 1883, Leo XIII approved the use of a red and white cord in
honor of the Saint. Furthermore, on September 24, 1889 he granted
the title of Archconfraternity (solely to France) to the Work of St.
Philomena, and in 1902 he wanted to celebrate in Rome, in Priscillas
Catacombs, the first centenary for the finding of the Saint martyrs
body. Furthermore, he sent two gifts to the Sanctuary in Mugnano: in
1888 a nice pastoral and on the May 25, 1902, on the centenary of the
finding of the relics, a wonderful missal.
St Pius X (1903-1914). He is the Pope that in 1905 proclaimed
the Curate of Ars Blessed on the first centenary of the translation of St.
Body from Rome to Mugnano. Pius X loved St. Philomena very much and he was
truly saddened by the Philomenian question about the originality of the
stones found in front of her tomb. St. Pius X, on the May 21, 1912,
extended to the whole Church the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena: the
highest tribute from a pope who became Saint to a great Saint!
devotees of St. Philomena
St. John Marie Vianney, Cure
(1876-1859). It was Pauline Jaricot who talked to him about the
Saint of Mugnano and introduced her to him. It was she that gifted
him with one of her relics. There is not a biography of the Curate
of Ars where our Saint is not mentioned. In France he was the
greatest promoter of the devotion towards the Saint of Mugnano. He
had a statue of St. Philomena placed in his parish church, and then built
a Basilica in her honor in Ars. This Basilica, built in the same
style of the one in Fourvire, which dominates over Lyon, was terminated
after the death of Saint John Marie Vianney. The Saint Curate attributed
to the intercession of our Saint, all the numerous miracles performed in
St. Peter Louis Marie Chanel (1803-1841). He was missionary and
first martyr (April 28, 1841) of the mysterious and wild Oceania.
His mutual devotion for St. Philomena came from the Curate of Ars.
When he embarked in 1836 for the Archipelago of Tonga, he had in his
breviary three pictures: Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. Philomena. To
the young St. of Mugnano he would turn in the difficult moments of his
apostolate amongst the mistrustful and hostile indigenous. Although
not expert in constructions, he started building, trustful in a Saint for
whom he harbors a great devotion. In honor of the Saint he recited a
novena every year in the period of her feast. To one of the first
baptized he gave the name Marie Philomeno.
St. Peter Julian Marie Eymard (1811- 1868).
His greatest merit was the foundation in 1856 of the Congregation of the
Most Blessed Sacrament. He was a very close friend of the Curate of
Ars whom he visited regularly. He had a great devotion towards St.
Philomena. He loved to kneel down in front of the Saints
reliquary. In 1854 he was cured by the martyr, after a novena
recited in her honor.
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865). She founded in 1802 the
Society of the Sacred Heart. In the difficult times of her life and
her religious order, Mother Barat invoked with faith the Saint of Mugnano.
In her biography she states that on the 11th of September 1846 Barat
placed her hands on a surgery patient who was instantly healed. She
attributed her healing to St. Philomena, whom she had invoked.
St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860). In 1840 he joined the
Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded by St. Alfonso Maria de
Liguori. He dedicated himself to the missionary activity in the
States of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and in Christian
education for youth, founding many parish catholic schools. In 1846,
trustful of the help of the Martyr, to whom God denies nothing for
whomever invokes her and without worrying about the money, he completed
the building of the new Church of St. Philomena.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917). On her numerous journeys,
especially the ones from New York to Buenos Aires and through the Andes,
she always carried with her a small statue of St. Philomena. We can
say that Cabrini, and the Bishop of Philadelphia Mons. Neumann, had the
merit of promoting the devotion of the Saint in America more than anyone
else. Pius XII declared her Universal Patroness of the Emigrants.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968). For her St. Philomena was the
Princess of Heaven. After the liturgical reform of 1961, Father Pio used
to imperatively reply to whoever dared to doubt the existence of the
Saint: for the love of God! It might well be that her name is not
Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the
name that did them. This is the wisest reply: who wants to
understand, will understand!
St. Maddalena Gabriella of Canossa (1774-1835). She founded the
Order of the Canossians (Work of the Charity daughters), an institution of
great religious and human advancement. Mother Madeleine continuously urged
her religious sisters towards the love of Christ and the Virgin of
Sorrows, and she entrusted them to the patronage of St. Philomena.
St. Hannibal Marie Di Francia (1851-1927). Referring to St.
Philomena he used to say: St. Philomena has become famous for the great
miracles that the Lord has worked through her.
St. Damien de Veuster (1840 -
1889). Father Damien, Belgian missionary of the Congregation of the
Sacred Hearts, spent his life spiritually assisting and curing the lepers
relegated to the isle of Molokai in the Hawaiian archipelago. A
great devotee of St. Philomena, he dedicated to her the first chapel he
built in the leper colony.
devotees of St. Philomena
The Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926). Founder of the famous
Sanctuary of Pompeii was a great devotee of St. Philomena. In 1896
he wrote Life of St. Philomena Virgin and Martyr. It was based on
the revelations of the mystic Neapolitan Sister Marie Louise of Jesus,
The Blessed Anne Marie Taigi (1769-1837). She received the
healing of one of her young nieces. The Jesuit P. Gabriel Bouffier
affirms that this admirable mother invoked the young Martyr from the
Catacombs every night and made her family invoke her also. She had
her image displayed in her house and on deaths
door, like a good Christian mother, after having given the last
recommendations to her sons, she placed them under the special protection
of St. Philomena, of whom she had always propagated the cult.
The Blessed Pius IX (1792-1878). This Popes
devotion was deep and sincere throughout his whole life. In 1849 he
visited the Sanctuary. When young, he was healed by intercession of
the Saint. He proclaimed her Second Patron in the vast
and Servants of God who were Devotees of St. Philomena
Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot (1799-1862). Pauline Marie
Jaricot, founder of the Living Rosary and the Society for the Propagation
of the Faith was highly appreciated by Pope Gregory XVI who wanted to
personally receive her when she passed through Rome. She had been
directed to Mugnano to invoke her healing to our Saint. The
astonishing miracle of her healing, which he verified in person, induced
Pope Gregory XVI to sign the well known decree of 1837. It was she
that gave the relic of St. Philomena to the Curate of Ars and she was one
of the promoters of Philomenas
devotion in Lyon and in the whole of France.
Servant of God Sister Marie Louise of Jesus (1799-1875).
Intent on spreading of the cult of St. Philomena and by the echoes of her
miracles in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, she founded the religious
family of the Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Philomena.
However, her revelations on the life and martyrdom of St. Philomena,
although answering the need to know more about her life, has effectively
brought our Saint towards the legend, detaching her from history. In
truth the cult of St. Philomena did not start from her revelations, nor
has it been divulged through them. The Church, in all the official acts in
relation to the cult of our Martyr, has never taken it into account.
There is however the sincere devotion of Sister Marie Louise and the
beneficial influence that her written work has given to the veneration of
Venerable Marie Christine of Savoy (1812-1836). With her husband
Ferdinand II, she came for the first time to the Sanctuary of Mugnano on
April 11, 1835. Immediately after her visit to the Sanctuary, the happy
news about the conception of the heir to the throne was announced.
The Queen attributed her pregnancy to the intercession of St. Philomena.
Many prodigies happened through her intercession. Pius IX in 1853
proclaimed her as Venerable and Pius XI in 1937 declared heroic her
virtues. In numerous biographies the great devotion of Marie
Christine of Savoy towards St. Philomena is highlighted.
Servant of God, Julie Colbert (1785-1864). Julie Colbert was
very devoted to St. Philomena and greatly attached to her Sanctuary. She
promoted the devotion of the Saint in the city of Turin. She founded
the Daughters of Jesus Good Pastor. The Marchioness of Barolo
visited the Sanctuary of St. Philomena in January 1834 and in February
1852, at which time she left a silver heart with a letter for the grace
received. Barolo entitled a small, beautiful hospital for sick and
crippled young girls to the Saint.
Servant of God Andrew Filomeno Garcia (1800-1853). He
emigrated to Montevideo when he was about twenty-three years of age,
became mendicant friar at the Franciscans of Santiago. For many
years he travelled through the cities and the countryside of Chile,
carrying in one hand a small box for offerings, in the other a big picture
of St. Philomena that he would show to everybody. To the ones who
would stop to listen to him, Friar Garcia would tell about the miracles of
the small Saint, leaving them enriched. He also composed prayers and hymns
in honor of St. Philomena. He died in Santiago in 1853. Two
years later, his body, found in pristine conditions, was buried in the
Church of his monastery, at the altar of St. Philomena.
Venerable Father Vito Michael Di Netta (1787-1849).
He was a missionary heroic figure of the Congregation of the Most Holy
Redeemer founded by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church,
whose preaching in Nola has remained memorable. Father Di Netta nurtured a
great devotion towards St. Philomena whom he always invoked in times of
the danger he faced as a missionary.
Venerable Jean Claude Colin (1790-1875). Ordained priest in
1816, he founded the Society of Mary. On April 29, 1836 Pope Gregory
XVI approved the Marist Congregation and in 1837 Colin was elected its
General Superior. Father Colin used to turn to St. Philomena with
the same love and trust of the Curate of Ars. In Belley, in an old
Capuchin Monastery, he founded an oratory dedicated to the Immaculate
Conception, in which he placed a statue of St. Philomena.
Distinguished and common faithful, devotees of St. Philomena.
Mary Theresa (1809-1863). Foundress of the Congregation of the
Healing Adoration, owes her vocation to St. Philomena. While
painting a picture of St. Philomena, which is now in the Cathedral of
Bayeux, she received her vocation and conversion.
(1852-1914). He cultivated within his family the love for St.
Philomena. He was a seminarian when his parents moved to Paris,
living in the area of the parish church of St.-Gervais. This church
was the only one in the capital with the cult of St. Philomena well
established. In 1872 he founded the periodical Le
de Ste. Philomene, which he managed to publish for two years. Not
yet a priest, he also published Histoire du culte de St.e Philomene,
History of the cult of St. Philomena. He was ordained in 1879 and two
years later joined the Congregation of St. Vincent de Paoli, where he was
director of the Messager de Ste. Philomene until his death. The
purpose of his life had been the spreading of the cult of St. Philomena
and he created a center from which to radiate it.
In the Parisian district of High Vaugirard, he built the lovely chapel of
St. Philomena in Rue Dantzig. From here his written work and his
Messager reached France and the rest of the world. In 1883 he
received the approval of the Cord of St. Philomena from the Sacred
Congregation of Rites and spread its devotion through his periodical.
Louis Petit also had the inspiration to found the Work of St. Philomena,
with the intention of giving Christian education to the working classes.
He joyfully witnessed this pious association become a Universal
Archconfraternity with an official act of Pius X on May 21, 1912.
The first century of the finding of St. Philomenas
bones was solemnly celebrated in Rome in 1902. He had the honor of
closing these celebrations with a sung Mass.
When the Abbot Petit came to Mugnano to venerate St. Philomena in 1883 and
1902, he uses the wonderful missal donated by Pope Leo XIII for the
celebration of the Sacred Mass. He died in Paris in 1914, full of
merits towards our Saint whom he deeply loved and venerated.
endless list. In the whole world, countless individuals of every
social condition have venerated St. Philomena. Here are mentioned
only a few:
Father Joseph Varin, one of the restorers of the Society of Jesus in
France, used to pronounce at least forty times a day the name of the Saint
and celebrated a mass in the Sanctuary dedicated to the her.
spread the cult of St. Philomena in Portugal, Ireland, and USA.
writers and artists have had admiration and devotion towards the Saint:
De St. Pierre French catholic novelist, in his biography about the Curate
of Ars highlights great fondness for St. Philomena;
Dupre consecrated to St. Philomena the first fruits of his works
Italian poets Joseph Borghi and Sylvius Pellico wrote hymns in honor of
the Pure Virgin and the Invincible Martyr.
Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, from all over the world have come to
give homage to St. Philomena in Mugnano and have left their ex voto:
Louis Ruffo Scilla, Archbishop of Naples, who wanted to donate a statue of
St. Philomena to the Sanctuary; the English Cardinal Thomas Weld;
James Philip Franzoni, Prefect of Faith Propaganda;
Louis Lambruschini, Secretary of Pius IX; Card. Angelo Mai, Prefect of the
Vatican Library; Card. Gabriel della Gerga Sermattei;
Philip Judge Caracciolo, Archbishop of Naples.
1837 the Archbishop of Cesarea, went to Mugnano.
1852 the Sanctuary was visited by: the Bishop of Chicago, Mons. John James
Oliviero Vande Velede; Mons. Vincent Spaccapietra, Archbishop of Smirne,
John Hilary Bost, Bishop of Merida in the Venezuelan Republic.
Ippolito writes: The Sanctuary of St. Philomena in Mugnano has by now
become renowned for the continuous visits and pilgrimages of foreigners
who expressly come from the most remote corners of the earth.
Ecclesiastics, noblemen, conspicuous dames, and people of every class and
condition of all nations have all been seen here and they still pour into
that fortunate village to venerate the sacred body of the undefeated
Heroine, in gratitude for the graces received, imploring her patronage.
Excerpted from Catholic Online