St. Philomena is one of my favorite saints. Her feast is coming and I thought of posting about her in my blog. Like St. Jude and St. Rita, her intercession is requested for impossible cases.
The Story of St. Philomena
On May 25, 1802, excavators in the ancient Catacomb of St. Priscilla in Rome came upon a well-preserved shelf tomb sealed with terr-cotta slabs in the manner usually reserved for nobility or great martyrs. The tomb was marked with three tiles, inscribed with the following confusing words: LUMENA / PAXTE / CUMFI. However, if one places the first tile last and separates the words properly, the very intelligible sentence emerges: Pax tecum, Filumena, which is “Peace be with you, Philomena.” Also inscribed on the tiles were symbols: a lily, arrows, an anchor and a lance, which would appear to indicate virginity and martyrdom. Inside the coffin there were discovered the remains of a girl of about twelve or thirteen years of age, along with a vial or ampulla of her dried blood.
Transferred to the Treasury of the Rare Collections of Christian Antiquity in the Vatican, the remains were soon forgotten by the public, especially since no record existed of a virgin martyr named Philomena. But in 1805, a Neapolitan priest, Don Francesco di Lucia, traveling to Rome with his newly appointed bishop, requested and, after a brief delay, received the relics of this martyr “Philomena” to enshrine in his village church at Mugnano, near Naples.
Immediately upon the official donation of St. Philomena’s sacred remains, signal favors began to be granted through her intercession and unusual events to occur. The favors, graces and even miracles started to increase, even before her enshrinement at Mugnano, and they steadily grew in number thereafter – such that this virgin martyr soon earned the title, “Philomena, Powerful with God”. In 1837, only 35 years after her exhumation, Pope Gregory XVI elevated this “Wonder-Worker of the Nineteenth Century” to sainthood. In an act unprecedented in the history of Catholicism, she became the only person recognized by the Church as a Saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession, since nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.
St. Philomena has been successfully invoked by her supplicants in every sort of needed, such that she has become another patron of “hopeless” and “impossible” cases, like St. Jude or St. Rita, but she is known to be especially powerful in cases involving conversion of sinners, return to the Sacraments, expectant mothers, destitute mothers, problems with children, unhappiness in the home, sterility, priests and their work, help for the sick, the missions, real estate, money problems, food for the poor and mental illness. But truly, as her devotees discovered, no case, of whatever matter, is too trivial or too unimportant to concern her.
I subscribe to the newsletters of Universal Living Rosary Association, an international organization founded by Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot at Lyon, France in 1826 with St. Philomena as its patron saint. It has a chapter here in the Philippines. The website has undergone lots of changes but there is so much interesting content. I suggest checking on the site map for a summary of all these. A few years ago, I was surfing through the site and found out that the Basilica of St. Philomena was just a few hours away from Naples. I visited Naples in 2006 but never realized that her sanctuary located in Mugnano was very near. Maybe one day with God’s grace I may be able to visit her.
Check out the activities leading to the feast of St. Philomena in manila in this news article from Inquirer:
Most Holy Redeemer Parish prepares for feast day of St. Philomena
By Josephine Darang
First Posted 22:05:00 07/25/2010
THE UNIVERSAL Living Rosary Association of St. Philomena and the Most Holy Redeemer Parish on Malac St. in Masambong, Quezon City, are getting ready for the nine-day novena to St. Philomena (Aug. 2-10) and her fiesta on Aug. 11. The shrine of the saint is inside the church which was initiated by Fr. Jojo Zerrudo when he was the parish priest.
Tandag Bishop and CBCP president Nereo Odchimar has been invited to celebrate the fiesta Mass on Aug. 11, 12 noon. The Mass will be covered live by radio station dzME 1530 khz AM band. The new parish priest is Fr. Clod Bagabaldo.
The number of devotees attending the novena of Masses increases every year. Some ask for favors, while others say “thank you” for answered prayers. I go there every year upon the encouragement of Dina Reyes, who has initiated the Living Rosary Association membership in the Philippines. Members recite the Holy Rosary everyday to make a chain with other people in the world praying it.
Only bishops are invited to celebrate the Novena Masses. Bishop Filomeno Bactol of Naval (Aug. 9) was named after the saint and his homilies. He testifies to the powerful intercession of the saint who is called “wonder worker.” Other Mass celebrants are Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio (Aug. 2, 6 p.m.), Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon (Aug. 3), Tarlac Bishop Florentino Cinenze (Aug. 4), Infanta Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona (Aug. 5), Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas (Aug. 6), Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez (Aug. 7), Palo Bishop Emeritus Pedro Dean (Aug. 8) and San Jose de Antique Bishop Emeritus Raul Martirez (Aug. 10).
There will be a procession on Aug. 8, 3:30 p.m., organized by Vincent Teodosio and his friends. He told me that the late Joe Salazar donated the vestment for the saint before he died.
Other Masses on Aug. 11 are as follows: Msgr. Sabino Vengco (6 a.m.); Fr. Eli Mata (9 a.m.); Fr. Orlando Aceron, OP (4 p.m.); and Fr. Jojo Zerrudo (6:30 p.m.). Fr. Aceron and Fr. Zerrudo are spiritual directors of the Universal Living Rosary Association of St. Philomena with address at 430 Mayon St., QC. For estampitas, please write me through the Philippine Daily Inquirer at Chino Roces Ave., Makati City. Please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for easier mailing.
The Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena has a facebook page in case you may want to join.