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Saint Philomena, Powerful With God

as revealed to Mother Mary Louisa of Jesus*
(courtesy of the Universal Living Rosary Association of St. Philomena)

My dear sister, I am the daughter of a prince who governed a small state in Greece. My mother was also of royal blood; and as they were without children, and they both still idolaters, in order to obtain some, they used continually to offer to their false gods sacrifices and prayers. A doctor from Rome, named Publius, now in Paradise, lived in the palace in the service of my father; he professed Christianity. Seeing the affliction of my parents, and moved at their blindness, and by the impulse of the Holy Ghost, he spoke to them of our faith, and even promised them posterity if they consented to receive baptism. The grace which accompanied his words enlightened their understanding, and triumphed over their will; they became Christians, and obtained the long desired happiness that Publius had promised them as the reward of their conversion.

At the moment of my birth they gave the name of Lumena, in allusion to the light of faith, of which I had been, as it were, the fruit; and the day of my baptism they called me Filumena, or daughter of light because on that day I was born to the faith. The affection which my parents bore me was so great that they would have me always with them. It was on this account that they carried me with them to Rome, on a journey that my father was obliged to make on the occasion of an unjust war with which he was threatened by the haughty Dioclesian. I was then thirteen years old. Being arrived in the capital of the world, we three proceeded to the palace of the emperor, and were admitted to an audience.

As soon as Dioclesian saw me his eyes were fixed upon me...

As soon as Dioclesian saw me his eyes were fixed upon me; he appeared to be prepossessed in this manner during the entire time that my father was stating with animated feelings everything that could serve for his defense. As soon as he had ceased to speak, the emperor desired him to be no longer disturbed but that, banishing all fear, he should think only of living in happiness. "I shall place at your disposal all the force of the empire, and shall ask in return only one thing, that is, the hand of your daughter.' My father, dazzled with an honor he was far from expecting, willingly acceded on the spot to the proposal of the emperor, and when we had returned to our own dwelling, my father and mother did all they could to induce me to yield to Dioclesian's wishes, and to theirs.

"What!" said I to them, "do you wish that for the love of a man I should break the promise I made two years since to Jesus Christ?"

What! said I to them, do you wish that for the love of a man I should break the promise I made two years since to Jesus Christ? My virginity belongs to Him, I can no longer dispose of it. 'But you were then too young,' answered my father, 'to form such an engagement', and he joined the most terrible threats to the command that he gave me to accept the hand of Dioclesian. The grace of my God rendered me invincible, and my father, not being able to make the emperor allow of the reasons he alleged, in order to disengage himself from the promise he had given, was obliged, by his order, to bring me into his presence.

I had to withstand for some moments beforehand a new attack from my father's anger and affection. My mother, uniting her efforts to his, endeavored to conquer my resolution. Caresses, threats, everything was employed to reduce me to compliance. At last I saw both of them fall at my knees, and say to me with tears in their eyes, 'My child, have pity on thy father, thy mother, thy country, our subjects.' No, no, I answered them; God and that virginity which I have vowed to Him, before everything; before you, before my country! My kingdom is heaven. My words plunged them into despair, and they brought me before the emperor, who on his part, did all in his power to win me; but his promises, his allurements, his threats, were equally useless. He then got into a violent fit of anger, and influenced by the devil, he had me cast into one of the prisons of his palace, where I was forthwith loaded with chains.

Thinking that pain and shame would weaken the courage that my divine Spouse inspired me with, he came to see me every day; and then, after having my chains loosed, that I might take the small portion of bread and water which I received as food, he renewed his attacks, some of which, if not for the grace of God, would have been fatal to purity.

I ceased not to recommend myself to Jesus and His most pure Mother.

The defeats which he always experienced were for me the preludes to new tortures; but prayer supported me; I ceased not to recommend myself to Jesus and His most pure Mother. My captivity had lasted thirty seven days, when, in the midst of a heavenly light, I saw Mary holding her divine Son in her arms. 'My daughter,' said she to me, 'three days more of prison and, after forty days, thou shalt leave this state of pain.' Such happy news made my heart beat with joy, but as the Queen of angels had added that I should quit my prison, to sustain, in frightful torments a combat far more terrible than those preceding, I fell instantly from joy to the most cruel anguish; I thought it would kill me. 'Have courage, my child,' said Mary then to me; 'art thou unaware of the love of predilection that I bare to thee? The name which thou receivedst in baptism is the pledge of it, by the resemblance which it has to that of my Son and to mine. Thou art called Lumena, as thy Spouse is called Light, Star, Sun as I myself am called Aurora, Star, the Moon in the fullness of its brightness, and Sun. Fear not, I will aid thee. Now Nature whose weakness humbles thee, asserts its law; in the moment of combat, grace will come to lend thee its force, and thy angel, who was also mine, Gabriel, whose name expresses force, will come to thy succor; I will recommend thee especially to his care, as the well-beloved among my children.' These words of the Queen of virgins gave me again courage, and the vision disappeared, leaving my prison filled with a celestial perfume.

What she had announced to me was soon realized. Dioclesian, despairing of bending me, took the resolution of having me publicly tortured, and the first torment to which he condemned me was to be scourged. 'Since she is not ashamed,' said he, 'to prefer, to an emperor like me, a malefactor, condemned by his own nation to an infamous death, she deserves that my justice shall treat her as he was treated.' He then ordered my clothes to be taken off, and that I should be tied to a column; and, in the presence of a great number of gentlemen of his court, he had me beaten with such violence, that my body, bathed in blood, appeared but one single wound. The tyrant, perceiving that I was going to faint and die had me removed from his eyes, and dragged again to prison, where he believed I would breathe out my last sigh.

But he was disappointed, as I was also in the delightful hope of going quickly to rejoin my Spouse, for two angels, shining with light, appeared to me, and pouring a health-giving balm upon my wounds, rendered me more vigorous than I had been before the torture. The next morning the emperor was informed of it; he had me brought into his presence, viewed me with astonishment, and then sought to persuade me that I owed my cure to the Jupiter whom he adored. 'He desires positively,' said he, 'that you should be empress of Rome.' And, joining to these seductive words promises of the greatest honors, and the most flattering caresses, he endeavored to complete the work of hell which he had begun; but the divine Spirit, to whom I am indebted for my constancy, filled me at the moment with so much light and knowledge, that to all the proofs which I gave of the solidity of our faith, neither Dioclesian nor any of his courtiers could give any answer whatever. Then his frenzy came on anew, and he commanded me to be buried, with an anchor to my neck, in the waters of the Tiber. The order was executed, but God permitted that it should not succeed; for, at the moment in which I was precipitated into the river, two angels came again to my succor, and, after having cut the rope that bound me to the anchor, while the anchor fell to the bottom of the Tiber, where it has remained till the present time, they transported me gently, in the view of an immense multitude, upon the banks of the river.

This miracle worked happy effects upon a great number of spectators, and they were converted to the faith...

This miracle worked happy effects upon a great number of spectators, and they were converted to the faith; but Dioclesian, attributing it to secret magic, had me dragged through the streets of Rome, and then ordered that I should be shot in a shower of arrows. I was stuck all over with them; my blood flowed on all sides; when he commanded me, exhausted and dying, to be carried back to my dungeon. Heaven honored me with a new favor there. I fell into a sweet sleep, and I found myself, on awaking, perfectly cured. Dioclesian learns it. 'Well, then,' he cried, in a fit of rage, let her be pierced with sharp darts a second time, and let her die in that torture.' They hastened to obey him. The archers bent their bows, they gathered all their strength; but the arrows refused to second their intentions. The emperor was present; he became enraged at the sight; he called me a magician, and, thinking that the action of fire could destroy the enchantment, he ordered the darts to be made red in a furnace, and directed a second time against me. It was done, indeed; but those darts, after having gone over a part of the space which they were to cross to come to me, took quite a contrary direction, and returned to strike those by whom they had been hurled. Six of the archers were killed by them, and several among them renounced paganism, and the people began to render public testimony to the power of the God that had protected me.

These murmurs and acclamations made the tyrant fear some more painful accident; he therefore hastened to terminate my days, by ordering my head to be cut off. Thus did my soul take flight toward my heavenly Spouse, who placed me, with the crown of virginity and the palm of martyrdom, in a distinguished rank among the elect, who partake of the enjoyment of his divine presence. The day that was so happy for me, and saw me enter into glory, was a Friday, and the hour of my death was the third after mid-day, (that is to say, the same hour that saw my divine master expire)."

*While the Holy See does not guarantee the authenticity of this purported revelation, the Holy Office gave its sanction for dissemination on December 21, 1883.

The Cure' of Ars and Saint Philomena

The little town of Ars, France, has become famous through the holy life and labors of Saint John Vianney, its beloved Cure'. And he, perhaps more than any other single individual, has brought to the world's attention the power of his own favorite among the saints - Saint Philomena. He was wont to call upon her for every kind of favor, and made her, so to speak, his "miracle-proxy". He used to take refuge under Saint Philomena's cloak, "and throw the blame on her", as someone has said for the extraordinary miracles he himself worked. Saint Philomena solved his financial worries; she converted sinners; she healed malignant diseases; she worked numberless prodigies in answer to his simple prayers. Many are recorded in the biography of the saint, but the unrecorded ones alone would fill a volume.

It is said that the Cure' did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.

A person once approached the Cure' and said: "Is it true, Monsieur le Cure', that Saint Philomena obeys you?" To which the holy priest replied, "And why not, since every day God Himself obeys me at the altar?" A perfect understanding existed between the Cure' and his dear little saint, so that he constantly felt the closeness of her presence. He addressed her by the most familiar and tender names, and spared no efforts to induce others to invoke her intercession in their needs of body and soul. Often he would say in his soft penetrating voice which drew all hearts to him: "My children, Saint Philomena has great power with God, and she has, moreover, a kind heart; let us pray to her with confidence. Her virginity and generosity in embracing her heroic martyrdom have rendered her so agreeable to God that He will never refuse her anything that she asks for us." It is said that the Cure' did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.

The Cure' first came to know of the wonderful power of Saint Philomena through a friend of his, Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Living Rosary, who in 1835 had been miraculously cured of a hopeless malady through the intercession of Saint Philomena. Miss Jaricot offered him a part of the precious relics of the saint which she had obtained from the shrine at Mugnano, and the Cure' received them with intense joy. At once he set to work to have a chapel erected in his church at Ars to enshrine them. The spot soon became the scene of innumerable cures, conversions and miracles.

Filled with intense love for the little saint, he chose her as his special heavenly patroness, and dedicated himself to her by vow. In season and out of season he spoke of her, and recommended novenas to her for the countless intentions of every kind which people referred to him. He earnestly admonished the sick to pray to Saint Philomena. He would bless them and join them in the novena he had instructed them to make, but always impressed on them that all cures were due to the little saint, and that, after God, it was to her that all gratitude was owing.

Filled with intense love for the little saint, he chose her as his special heavenly patroness, and dedicated himself to her by vow.

Thousands of people came to the chapel of Ars on pilgrimage, for the purpose of invoking the aid of Saint Philomena in their necessities and trials. Tangible evidence, of the favors obtained, the miracles worked, the conversions wrought, the prayers answered, was to be seen in the votive offerings of every type which the grateful recipients of the favors placed at Saint Philomena's shrine.

Due to the fervor of the Cure's devotion to Saint Philomena, and the numerous cures and favors obtained through her intercession, all France soon rang with her name. Every diocese had altars and chapels or churches dedicated to her. But devotion to her was not confined to France. Kings, queens, cardinals, bishops, priests, and a vast multitude of religious and faithful throughout the world acclaim her as their heavenly patroness.

Pauline's "Miracle at Mugnano"

Pauline Jaricot suffered from advanced heart disease which increased with time until her closest friends recognized that death was imminent. In March of 1835 , this illness had serioulsy affected her heart, and in proportion as it increased, the palpitations became so violent that they could be heard at a distance and caused her unmistakable agony. At this time Pauline decided to travel to Rome to seek an audience with the Pope and to get the Holy Father's blessing (the ambition of her life) then on to Mugnano, where the relics of St. Philomena were enshrined, in hope of a cure.

A journey to Rome meant traveling by coach over the Alps, through wild and abandoned stretches of country, a long dangerous journey even for those in a normal state of health. But Pauline set out.

Her arrival in Rome was reported to the Holy Father, Pope Gregory XVI, who, being informed of her state, resolved to go in person to this young woman who had done so much for Holy Church. This was truly an extraordinary honor, and likewise an unspeakable consolation to Pauline. The Holy Father was most kind and gracious. He thanked her repeatedly for her work in behalf of the Catholic Church, and blessed her over and over. He asked her to pray for him when she got to heaven, and Pauline promised. Then she asked: "Holy Father, if I come back well from my visit to Mugnano, and go on foot to the Vatican, will your holiness deign to proceed without delay with the final inquiry into the Cause of Saint Philomena?"

"Yes, yes, my daughter," replied the Pope, "for that would be a miracle of the first class."

"Yes, yes, my daughter," replied the Pope, "for that would be a miracle of the first class." Turning then to the superior of the Sacred Heart nuns, the Holy Father continued in Italian: "How ill our daughter is! She seems to me as if she had come forth from the grave. We shall never see her again. She will never return." Pauline understood, but only smiled confidently. The Pope blessed her anew before taking his departure, and turning to Cardinal Lambruschini, who had accompanied him, bade him pray for her and grant her all the indulgences possible.

By now it was August and exceedingly hot. The party set out for Mugnano, traveling by night to avoid the great heat of the day. They arrived at Mugnano on the eve of the feast of Saint Philomena. Vast crowds had assembled to celebrate the feast. When they learned who Pauline was and what was her purpose in coming, they were greatly excited.

The next morning, the feast of Saint Philomena, Pauline received Holy Communion near the shrine of the saint's relics. She suffered frightful pains all through her body, and her heart beat so violently that she fainted. The crowds thought that death had taken her, and so loud was their outcry that those who were with Pauline attempted to take up the special chair on which she was lying and carry it out of the church. But she recovered consciousness enough to make a sign to leave her near the relics. Suddenly a flood of hot tears burst from her eyes, color came back to her cheeks, a healthy glow spread over her benumbed limbs. Her soul was filled with celestial joy, and she thought she was about to leave this earth for heaven. But it was not death. Saint Philomena had cured her! She was still to live many years to toil for God and His Church.

Suddenly a flood of hot tears burst from her eyes, color came back to her cheeks, a healthy glow spread over her benumbed limbs.

Pauline, when certain of her cure, remained silent for a short while lest the enthusiasm of the crowd be too vociferous. But the Superior of the convent, surmising the truth, ordered all the bells to peal in announcement of the miracle. The people were frantic with joy, and shouted over and over; "Long live Saint Philomena! Long live our dear saint! Long live the good French lady!"

Pauline lingered for some days at the shrine in thanksgiving and when at length she departed, she took with her a large relic of Saint Philomena, encased in a life-sized statue of the saint. This was clothed in royal robes and given the place of honor in the carriage. As Pauline made her way back to Rome, large crowds gathered at the various stopping places and shouted: "A miracle! A miracle!"

As Pauline made her way back to Rome, large crowds gathered at the various stopping places and shouted: "A miracle! A miracle!"

Pauline had not informed the Holy Father of her cure, the more to enjoy his surprise when she should present herself before him. All in the Vatican who had heard of her were astounded on learning of her cure. The Pope, above all, was struck with amazement on seeing her before him in perfect health. His Holiness would not have believed the reality, had he not seen her with his own eyes. At her request he granted the privilege of building a chapel in honor of Saint Philomena.

In order to investigate the miracle thoroughly, the Pope commanded Pauline to remain in Rome for one full year. During this time Pauline obtained from the Holy Father many privileges for the Living Rosary. At the end of the year, Pauline returned with his blessing to Fourvieres, France.

Pauline Jaricot home page

Prayers to St. Philomena

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