St. Philomena may be one of the most interesting Saints you will ever come across. She is certainly one with whom you will want to be acquainted! As the only, yes ONLY Saint ever to be canonized based only upon her intercession (and penchant for miracles!) not much is known about her outside of private revelation. However, the little that IS known makes for one epic (and totally true) story!
She Was Discovered in the Catacombs and Her Name was Backwards
St. Philomena’s earthly remains were discovered in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome in 1802. The stones that covered her small burial place were out of order and read “Lumena PaxTe CumFi.” (Roughly translated, it says, “Light, Peace be with Daughter”) Rearranged, they make a little more sense: “PaxTe Cum Fi Lumena.” (Peace be with you, Philomena. Fi – Lumena means “daughter of Light”). In addition to the three stones that marked her resting place and her name, symbols of martyrdom were depicted; namely: 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. Buried with her bones was a vial of blood, indicative of martyrdom. The bones were determined to be from a 13 year old female who had died “from the lance.”
Her Blood Dazzled Those Who Observed It
Upon taking possession of her relics, the Church carried out some “care taking procedures” that are very normal for a martyr discovered in the catacombs and involved a “Court of Inquiry” whose task it was to determine authenticity and martyrdom. One of these procedures is to collect the blood normally buried with the martyr in order to study and better preserve it. The vial of blood buried with Philomena was broken but there remained in the bottom of the glass tube some dried blood that had pooled there. “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.”” (Source: HERE) And now I’m singing the song “Shiny” from Moana…..
She Isn’t Afraid to Give Anyone a Kick in the Pants . . . Literally
After her relics were safely preserved and cataloged they were largely forgotten for a few years. Then “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.” (Source: HERE)
The remains of St. Philomena were carefully placed in a special box and placed under the seat in the carriage that Canon de Lucia was taking back to Mugnano. Along the way back the Canon kept feeling what he described as “kicks” to his rear end. As if someone was kicking his seat! He at first thought it was the bumps on the road but soon realized that it was not! Confused he checked his seat. Finding nothing irregular, he tried to continue the journey. However the kicking became so obvious and annoying that he stopped the carriage. Then it dawned on him! The little Saint did not want to be traveling under the seat! She wanted to be respected! So he immediately took the box containing her sacred relics and placed it on the seat next to him. He did not experience any more kicks in the pants for the remainder of the journey!
She Doesn’t Mind Making Herself Comfortable
Upon arriving in Mugnano, miracles soon began to occur because of St. Philomena’s intercession. So it was decided that a special glass reliquary was to be designed and her bones encased in a wax figurine, for the faithful to venerate. A special day dedicated to the Saint was planned for the unveiling of the new glass reliquary and wax figure. After painstakingly designing the figure and carefully encasing her bones therein, she was placed in the glass reliquary (it was like a glass coffin). Except, to the horror of those preparing for her public display, she didn’t fit! The glass case was too small! They managed to make her fit, but in order to do so, she had to be placed in a rather ‘unladylike’ position. Devastated, the Canon and his staff went to bed, awaiting the next day, the day of the unveiling.
The next day arrived and at the moment of the revelation of the new glass reliquary, the Canon braced himself. To his astonishment, and the astonishment of those who had helped place Philomena’s figure into the glass case, not only did the Saint appear to be resting peacefully, but her posture had changed, she was of a smaller size and fit perfectly in the glass, and her facial features had changed too! Her pallor was more colorful and her expression was completely different! The Canon confirmed that no one had tampered with the Little Saint during the night and attributed this miracle to the Saint herself!
She Will Take Herself Back
A great demand for relics of St. Philomena began as she answered more and more pleas from the faithful. However an interesting phenomenon was observed by the caretaker of her Shrine. When a relic was given, sometimes it would somehow find its way BACK into the glass reliquary. It was discovered that when her relics were not venerated properly, when she was forgotten, abused, or discarded, the little Saint would take her relics back from the offending party and return them to her glass reliquary until they could be given to someone who would treat her properly!
She is the Thaumaturga
St. Philomena has a long list of Papal friends as well as other Saints who were also her devotees. Pope Gregory XVI named her “Thaumaturga” meaning “Powerful with God.” Truly she has lived up to her name! She is credited by Saints John Vianney, Peter Chanel, Peter Julian Marie Eymard, Madeleine Sophie Barat, John Nepomucene Neumann, Frances Xavier Cabrini, Pio of Pietrelcina, Maddalena Gabriella of Canossa, Hannibal Marie Di Francia, Damien de Veuster, Joseph of Molakai, and Blesseds Bartolo Longo, Anne Marie Taigi, Pius IX just to name a few, with healings, miracles and miraculous intercession. Perhaps the most notable in this list are St. Padre Pio whose family was devoted to the little Saint (and whose sister was named Philomena!) and St. John Vianney, the Cure D’Ars, who was said to have such a strong devotion to her that he attributed all the miracles he performed to her intercession! In fact, St. Philomena, according to St. John Vianney, appeared to him, and he commissioned an artist to paint her likeness based on his description:
Philomena Has a Special Cord and You’ll Want to Wear It
It is along practice of the faithful to wear a cord devoted to a particular saint. According to the Sanctuary of St. Philomena:
The devotion to the Cord of Saint Philomena is the spontaneous result of the mercy of the faithful towards the Thaumaturgy. Its use was approved on 15 December 1883 by Pope Leo XIII, with the relevant indulgences.
In consideration of the countless graces received by intercession of the Saint, the desire of being under her powerful patronage blossomed. Everyone wanted to wear, in her honor, the blessed Cord in order to be protected in all the eventualities of life. The marvelous fruits of this devotion made her very famous.
The Saint Cure of Ars, who had many times experienced the Saint’s powers, loved seeing the faithful wearing the precious Cord and he would suggest this pious practice to everyone.
The Cord of Saint Philomena is both a Symbol and a Prayer. A Symbol, because with it we wish to tie ourselves with the Saint with sincere devotion; a Prayer, because, holding it, we pray Saint Philomena to constantly offer us her protection.
Purpose of this devotion is therefore to obtain, by intercession of Saint Philomena, the effective means to:
• preserve chastity, everyone according to their state;
• fight the constantly increasing disbelief and strengthen oneself in faith and spirit;
• profess a constant and a particular love to the Saint Thaumaturge, in order to merit her favours in the fight against sickness of the body and soul.
The practise of the Cord is accomplished by:
• carrying with devotion the blessed Cord as a distinctive sign of the commitment taken, under the auspices of Saint Philomena and in her honor, to preserve the sacred purity and to defend the Faith;
• applying ourselves in prayer, in imitation of Saint Philomena’s model of chastity and Faith, to preserve one and the other, for the merit of her constancy in bearing the martyrdom;
• avoiding with great care all the dangerous situations regarding chastity, avoiding rigorously books and shows capable of staining purity, and of darkening the sacred light of the Faith;
• solemnizing the feast of Saint Philomena, receiving the Sacred Sacraments in those days, and that is: on the 10th of January, recurrence of her birth; the 25th of May, recurrence of the finding of her precious Body; the 10th of August, recurrence of her glorious death, and of the translation of the Body to Mugnano del Cardinale; the 13th of August, main feast of Saint Philomena, according to the decree of the High Pontiff;
• making the “Month of Saint Philomena,” from 1st of July to 10th of August, in memory of the 40 days that the Martyr spent in jail, according to the revelations made to Sister Marie Louise of Jesus;
• having the picture of Saint Philomena in our home, paying her a tribute of honour every day and, if possible, say the evening prayer, together, in front of her picture.
Plenary Indulgences Granted By Wearing the Cord of St. Philomena
Plenary Indulgences of The Cord of Saint Philomena are granted on the following days:
1. On the day on which the cord is worn for the first time.
2. On the 25th of May, the anniversary of the opening of St. Philomena’s tomb in the Catacombs of Saint Priscilla.
3. On August 11, her proper Feast.
4. On December 15, the anniversary of the approbation of the cord by the Holy See.
5. At the moment of death, under the ordinary conditions.
With the exception of the last, it is necessary for gaining the above indulgences to go to confession, receive Holy Communion, make a visit to some church and there pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff.
For More Information on this Amazing Saint:
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