or close on a hundred years the name of St. Philomena has been accorded in the Church a veneration which, growing intensified by the number of miracles vouchsafed through her intercession, has spread over the whole world. Previous to the discovery of her tomb and relics at the opening of the nineteenth century, her name had found no place in sacred story. There is a pious tradition that she was a child-martyr and a contemporary of St. Sebastian, who suffered in the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian about the year of Our Lord 286.T
he Catacomb of St. Priscilla, outside the walls of Rome, lies beneath the Via Salaria Nova. Here, in the pontificate of Pius VII, a remarkable slab attracted the custodians of the cemetery, who were then prosecuting investigations there, and on the 25th of May, 1802, the tomb was formally examined. On the tiles that enclosed it, the following inscription was read: "Philomena Pax Tecum." The devices which were interwoven with these simple words --an anchor, an arrow, and a palm--determined the spot as the last resting place of a martyr. The tomb was opened by Monsignor Ludovici, who disclosed to the gaze of his assistants and bystanders the precious remains. Beside them stood the phial containing the blood of the saint. The examination of the relics having been made, it was ascertained that St. Philomena had been martyred in her tender youth, at about 12 or 13 years of age. T
he relics of the saint were bestowed in the Church of Mugnano, which was destined on this account and through the numerous miracles wrought by her intercession to become one of the most honored shrines in the Christian world. It was in the summer of 1805 that the relics were transferred to Mugnano. On the eve of the arrival the bells of all the churches were rung, and cannons were fired in honor of the advent of the relics. The inhabitants made their first petition to the saint by asking, through her intercession, that the long-continued drought from which their crops suffered might come to an end. The sound of the bells from the church towers had scarcely ceased when rain fell in copious torrents. At sunrise the procession entered Mugnano. The joyful inhabitants turned out in vast multitudes with olive branches in their hands to welcome the youthful martyr--and the little children, as they saw the case of relics dressed with flowers, filled the air with the cries of "Viva la Santa! Viva la Santa! Hail to the saint!" D
uring the course of the procession to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie--which occupied two hours--many manifestations of the power of the saint were witnessed. Although the day was serene and beautiful at one time a whirlwind arose, and yet not a single one of the lights which were carried before the Shrine of Philomena was extinguished. T
he body of the saint was placed under a splendid canopy at the Gospel side of the principal altar, where High Mass was celebrated. That day--the 10th of August--was observed as a feast day of obligation, and the spiritual rejoicings lasted over many weeks. The numerous wonders which immediately began to be wrought at this shrine induced Don Francesco--the saintly priest who had received them from Rome--to announce his long-cherished intention of keeping the relics in his private chapel. After a short time he bestowed them on the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Here a side chapel was prepared to receive them, and an altar erected, beneath which they were henceforth to rest for public veneration. O
n the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, September 25, 1805, after the celebration of High Mass, the relics were carried in procession, and solemnly deposited in their appointed place. Mass was again chanted at the new altar, and thus ended the translation of the relics of St. Philomena. To the zeal and sanctity of the Cure of Ars may be ascribed, in great measure, the rapid and universal spread of devotion to St Philomena throughout France. Medals and other memorials of the virgin-martyr distributed by him were fruitful of many miracles. The story of the extinction of a fire at his house (caused by the agency of the devil), through the presence of a statue of St. Philomena, will be remembered by many readers of Monsieur Vianney's life. A
mong the clients of the martyr, whose special holiness has distinguished them in the annals of this century, may be named--Pere Varin, one of the restorers of the Society of Jesus in France; Venerable Mother Barat, foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart; Madame d'Houet, foundress of the Faithful Companion of Jesus and Mary; Pere Eymard, founder of the Priests of the Most Holy Sacrament. A
s regards the shrine at Mugnano, the present beautiful church, surmounted by its dome and towers, was undertaken in 1853, and completed three years later. Its great attraction is the chapel containing the relics of St. Philomena. A profusion of the finest marbles, mingled with agate and porphyry, cover the walls from floor to ceiling. Stately columns, supporting Corinthian capitals of white marble, impart an appearance of chaste splendor to the whole interior. Over the white marble altar stands the case containing the relics, revealing the figure of the saint, half sitting, half reclining on her couch, radiant in jewels and costly attire. Above is the familiar picture of our Lady of Good Counsel. At the opposite side of the nave is an altar, on which rests the reliquary containing the phial of the martyr's blood. This exquisite casket was the gift of Marie Therese, Queen of Naples. It is entirely composed of silver, and through an aperture filled with glass the sacred relic may be easily seen. The generosity of faithful hearts, in happier times, bestowed vast endowments and estates on this church of St. Philomena, and thus provided for the relief of the poor and the advancement of other meritorious works. But, alas! the sacrilegious hands of the usurper have confiscated all. T
he constant stream of pilgrims has, however, never ceased. Old and young, rich and poor, of all nationalities, assemble there, and bring away with them graces untold, and a deep sense of the power of God through the efficacy of His saints. The decree authorizing the devotion to St. Philomena, and granting to the clergy of Nola the privilege of saying Mass in her honor, was published by Gregory XVI on January 30, 1837. In March, 1839, the same Pontiff, by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, raised her feast to the dignity of a double of the second class. It is to be noted that hers is the only instance of a "Proper Office" being granted in honor of a saint of whom no details are recorded or known, except the bare fact of her martyrdom. This was indicated, as we have already remarked, by the emblems cut on her tomb, and the three simple words inscribed on the slab enclosing her place of rest: "Pax tecum! Philomena." "Peace be with thee! Philomena." P
ius IX and Leo XIII gave evidence of a similar veneration for the martyr of the primitive Church. In Ireland, the devotion to this child--saint and martyr--has been taken up with great fervor, and rewarded with many striking favors. T
he pious Sisterhoods, to whose hands is confided the great work of Catholic education, have not been slow to find how powerful is the help of the "little wonder-worker." Schools, special works of charity, the wants of the sick and afflicted, have many a time been blessed and promoted in wonderful ways through the invocation of St. Philomena.H
er name is a household word in many Irish homes. Many a stricken heart turns to her for aid in the necessities which encompass our various paths through this land of distress and sorrow. And it is sweet to think that much of that beautiful fervor and devotion toward St. Philomena, which has spread like the odor of some delicate fragrant flower over pagan and far-off lands, has been borne thither by Irish hands and Irish hearts. M
ay our efforts to retrace some of the glories which surround the name of the youthful martyr of the Catacombs increase the fervor of those devoted to her. May they urge others to spread wider still veneration for her virtues of constancy and heroism, by which she obtained such favor with God, and merited so many benedictions for those who invoke her! St. Philomena! Pray for us.
The Litany of St. Philomena Lord, have mercy on us. A
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us,
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Philomena child of benediction,
Pray for us. *
St. Philomena the daughter of light, *
St. Philomena, who from infancy chose Jesus Christ for your spouse, *
St. Philomena, who despised with heroic courage the greatest honors, in order to remain faithful to Christ, *
St. Philomena, whose faith and love for Jesus Christ could not be shaken, either by promises or threats, *
St. Philomena, whose constancy could not be diminished, either by the supplications of a father, or the tenderness of a mother, *
St. Philomena, who by your love of sufferings, merited to be consoled by Jesus, *
St. Philomena, whose ardor to endure new torments augmented every day, *
St. Philomena, whom God confided to the care of Angels, and who by their assistance defeated the rage of your persecutors, *
St. Philomena, whose glory God was pleased to manifest by continual wonders, *
St. Philomena, who endured several kinds of martyrdom from the different punishments you suffered, *
St. Philomena, who, by your example, drew many souls to Faith, *
St. Philomena, bound to a pillar and struck with reeds, *
St. Philomena, perfect model of Christian virgins, *
St. Philomena, special protectress of those who honor you, *
St. Philomena, whom the Church honors and reveres as an illustrious virgin and martyr of Jesus Christ, *
St. Philomena, now in possession of immortal honor, *
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us
V. Pray for us, St. Philomena!
R. That we may, like you, consecrate our entire lives to the love of Jesus.
Let us pray:
OSt. Philomena, pray for us. (Three times.) Chaplet of St. Philomena
Glorious virgin and martyr, whose glory God has been pleased to manifest by shining miracles! we address ourselves to you with entire confidence. Obtain for us, that, following your example, we may generously combat all that opposes the reign of Jesus Christ in our hearts, that He may ornament them with thy virtues, with that angelic purity of which you are so perfect a model; it order that, enkindled with a love for Jesus, we may walk constantly in the way He has pointed out to us, and partake one day of your eternal felicity. Amen.
Act of Consecration to Saint Philomena
(To be said on the 11th day of every month.)
llustrious Virgin and Martyr, St. Philomcna, whose name and miracles are known even to the ends of the earth, graciously be pleased with the confidence we place in thy intercession, as we come to commend to thy special protection the health of our little family. Obtain for us health of soul and body, for in these days we have need of both. Make us strong in word and work, so that every thought, word and action of our lives may procure the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
simple Chaplet was composed by the Cure of Ars, and consists in the praying of the Creed, three Our Fathers in praise and glory to the three persons of the Holy Trinity, thirteen Hail Marys in honor of the thirteen years of the life of the "princess" saint, or the following prayer as a substitute for the Hail Mary:H
ail, O Holy St. Philomena, my dear patroness. As my advocate with thy divine spouse, intercede for me now and at the hour of my death. St. Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.
The chaplet ends with the invocation: H
ail, O illustrious St. Philomena, who so courageously shed thy blood for Christ, I bless the Lord for all the graces He has bestowed upon thee, during thy life, 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. Amen
In 1837, the Cure of Ars erected the first chapel in France I
dedicated to his "dear little saint."
Prayer to Saint Philomena
llustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to set thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God. Ah! from the heights of heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client. Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular [mention your special intentions]. Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Amen.
Hymn: Virginis Proles
Son of a virgin, Maker of Thy Mother, http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/
Thou, Rod and Blossom from a Stem unstained,
While we a Virgin's triumphs are rehearsing,
Hear our petition.
Lo, on Thy handmaid fell a twofold blessing,
Who, in her body vanquishing the weakness,
In that same body, grace from heaven obtaining,
Bore the world witness.
Death, nor the rending pains of death appalled her;
Bondage and torment found her undefeated:
So by the shedding of her blood attained she
Fountain of mercy, hear the prayer she offers;
Purge our offenses, pardon our transgressions,
So that hereafter we to Thee may render
Praise with thanksgiving.