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St. Philomena

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"Nothing is denied to Saint Philomena. " - Mary, Mother of God, during an apparition to Mother Mary Louisa of Jesus
Patroness of babies, barrenness, bodily ills, children, children of Mary, desperate causes, forgotten causes, impossible causes, infants, infertility, lost causes, Living Rosary, newborns, poor people, priests, sick people, sickness, sterility, toddlers, young people, youth.

Little is known of her life, and the information was have 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 intercession as nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.

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 the Children 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 John Vianney its patron. Saint John Vianney himself called Philomena the New Light of the Church Militant, and had a s trong 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 John Nepomucene Neumann, Saint Madeline Sophie Barat, Saint Peter Chanel, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, and Venerable Pauline Jaricot.

Additional Info:

In 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. Philomena was a virgin and a martyr. Her popularity soon became widespread, with her most memorable devotees being St. John Vianney, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, St. Peter Eymard, and St. Peter 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.

Papal Devotion to St. Philomena

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:

" discredit the present decisions and declarations concerning Saint Philomena as not being permanent, stable, valid and effective, necessary of obedience, and in full-effect for all eternity, proceeds from an element that is null and void and without merit or authority." (1912)