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August 11

St. Philomena - August 11

Saint Philomena
“The Wonder Worker”
Virgin, Martyr
(291 – 304)

“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.”

Saint Philomena

Saint’s Life Story

Her Life

Little is known of Philomena’s life, and the information was have was received by private revelation from her. In 1833, Philomena appeared to Dominican Sister Maria Luisa di Gesù (1799–1875), revealing details about her short life and her heroic death.

Philomena told her she was the daughter of a king in Greece. Her mother and father were childless, and as they were both pagans, they prayed and offered sacrifices to their gods for a child. They had a Christian physician in their house named Publius who felt sorry for their plight, and inspired by God, told them that if they wanted a child they should be baptized and embrace the religion of Jesus Christ. They decided to do so. After, they had been instructed in the Church’s teachings, they were baptized. A year later, on January 10th, 291, a daughter, Filumena or Philomena, was born. Her name meant “Daughter of Light” because she had been conceived and born in the light of Faith.

Her parents’ love towards her was so great that they never left her for a single moment. For this reason, they took Philomena with them on a journey to Rome because of war, which threatened their safety. She was 13 years old at the time. When they arrived at Rome, they went to the palace of Emperor Diocletian. When he saw Philomena, Diocletian was captured by her beauty. He promised her father to put all his power under his command if he let him marry Philomena.

When they went back to their room, her parents tried to convince Philomena to marry the Emperor. She cried and said: “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.”

Her words caused them to lose hope in the emperor’s request, so they brought Philomena to him. The emperor tried to entice her and persuade her using promises as well as threats, but all to no avail. He ordered her to be imprisoned in one of the palace’s cells, where they put her in chains hoping that pain and shame would change her mind.

Her Martyrdom

Diocletian subjected Philomena to a series of torments: scourging, from whose effects two angels cured her; drowning with an anchor attached to her (two angels cut the rope and raised her to the river bank); and being shot with arrows (on the first occasion her wounds were healed; on the second, the arrows turned aside; and on the third, they returned and killed six of the archers, after which several of the others became Christians). Finally, the Emperor had her decapitated. The story goes that the decapitation occurred on a Friday at three in the afternoon on August 10th around 304, as with the death of Jesus. The two anchors, three arrows, the palm, and the ivy leaf on the tiles found in the tomb were interpreted as symbols of her martyrdom.

Undiscovered for Over 1700 Years

In 1802, the remains of a young woman were discovered in the catacomb of Saint Priscilla on the Via Salaria in Rome, Italy. Three tiles enclosing the tomb bore an inscription, Pax Tecum Filumena (i.e. “Peace be unto you, Philomena”), that was taken to indicate that her name (in the Latin of the inscription) was Filumena, the English form of which is Philomena. On the three tiles were drawings of two anchors, three 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 Christians to leave symbols and signs of martyrdom such as these, it was easily determined that Philomena was a virgin and a martyr.

In 1805, Canon Francis de Lucia from Mugnano, Italy visited the Vatican’s Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity. While examining the relics of Saint Philomena, he experienced a spiritual joy, prompting him to request permission to enshrine them in a chapel in Mugnano. After some initial disagreements, which were resolved following Canon Francis’ cure through prayers to Philomena, he was allowed to transfer the relics to Mugnano. Miracles started to occur at the shrine, including healings of cancer, wounds, and the renowned Miracle of Mugnano, in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured of a severe heart ailment overnight. Notably, Philomena was the only person recognized as a Saint solely based on miraculous intercession, as nothing historical was known about her except her name and evidence of martyrdom.

Pope Leo XII granted permission for the erection of altars and churches in her honor. While Pope Gregory XVI authorized her public veneration, and named her patroness of the Living Rosary. The cure of Pope Blessed Pius IX, while archbishop of Imola, was attributed to Philomena; in 1849, Pope Pius named her patroness of the Children of Mary.
Saint John 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 Damien of Molokai
Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini
Saint John Neumann
Saint Madeline Sophie Barat
Saint Peter Chanel
Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, himself no mean wonder-worker, once silenced critics of her cult by snarling, “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.”

Since her discovery in the catacombs of Rome and the later moving of her relics arrived to Mugnano, Italy, Saint Philomena became known as “The Wonder Worker” due to the overwhelming number of miracles worked through her intercession. Philomena is often depicted in her youth with a flower crown, a palm of martyrdom, arrows, or an anchor. Her feast day was initially August 10 when she died, but out of respect for Saint Lawrence it was a day forward to August 11.

Born:                   Around January 10, 291 in an unknown location

Died:                   Around August 10, 304 in an unknown location

Beatified:           None

Canonized:        1837 by Pope Gregory XVI

Feast Day:         August 11

Patron Saint:    Against Bodily Ills; Against Infertility; Against Mental Illness; Against Sickness; Against Sterility; Babies; Children; Children of Mary; Desperate Causes; Hopeless Causes; Impossible Causes; Infants; Living Rosary; Newborns; Orphans; Poor People; Priests; Prisoners; Sick People; Students; Toddlers; Young People; Youth

Source:

Reflection

Saint Philomena, as a young girl who was barely a teenager at age 13, endured her martyrdom, not relying on her own strength, but needing constant recourse to God. She could have been an emperess and given her parents all kinds of power by marrying Emperor Diocletian. Instead, Saint Philomena was tortured and beheaded for her faith. Her story reveals the necessity of assiduous prayer and total dependence upon God. As parents and grandparents, let us hold her up as a true heroine and role model for our children, who are assaulted with more temptations than any generation of history.

Let us pray for Saint Philomena’s intercession to resist temptation and remain faithful to God for ourselves and especially for the young teenage children and grandchildren in our lives.

Prayers

Saint Philomena,

You, who were a glorious martyr of faith and purity, grant me the strength of mind that enabled you to resist the most terrible assaults.

May you grant me your ardent love for Christ, which the most atrocious tortures were not able to extinguish,

So that by imitating you on earth, we may obtain that purity of spirit and of heart that leads to perfect Love of God.

Saint Philomena, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

A Dictionary Of Saintly Women, Volume 1 by Agnes B. C. Dunbar – St. Philomena

Aleteia – First they discovered St. Philomena’s remains … then came the miracles

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Philomena (c 291 – 304) “The Wonder Worker”

Catholic Exchange – St. Philomena (Virgin and Martyr)

Catholic Online – St. Philomena

CatholicSaints.Info – Book of Saints – Philomena – by Monks of Ramsgate

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Philomena, The Wonder-Worker, by Father Paul O’Sullivan, O.P.

Daily Prayers – St Philomena

Deviant Art – St. Philomena icon

National Catholic Register – St. Philomena Encourages Youth to Be Pure by Eddie O’Neill

New Advent – St. Philomena

Saints, Feast, Family – St. Philomena’s Story

Saints for Sinners – Philomena

Sanctoral – Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr († Third century)

St. Philomena Catholic Church (Carson, CA) -St. Philomena Patroness and Protector of the Living Rosary

The Saint’s Project – St. Philomena

The Studio of Saint Philomena – Who is Saint Philomena?

The Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena – St. Philomena, Patroness and Protectress of the Living Rosary

Video Link