samedi 11 août 2012

Sainte PHILOMÈNE (FILOMENA, PHILOMENA) de ROME, vierge, martyre et thaumaturge


Sainte Philomène

Martyre

Elle est fêtée le 10 août, jour du transfert de ses reliques en 1805, ou le 11 août.

A-t-elle ou non existé? l'histoire de son culte est toute simple. A l'époque du saint Curé d'Ars, on inventoriait les catacombes romaines. Un jour, les archéologues trouvèrent une plaque portant l'insigne du martyre, une palme, et un nom en grec: "Philoména". On en conclut que cette tombe, ce "loculus" creusé dans la pierre avait reçu le corps d'une martyre, sans aucun doute sainte, et donc sainte Philomène. On écrivit sa mort à la lumière des "Actes" qui racontent d'autres martyres. Et le culte se répandit. Le saint Curé d'Ars pria cette sainte revenue d'actualité.

Mais à quelque temps de là, on retrouva l'autre partie de la plaque et cela donnait "Philomena theou" - "Aimée de Dieu"...(*)

Il y avait bien une martyre, mais ce n'était pas son nom. Comme bien d'autres, Barbara, Christian, René, Christophe... il restera un nom de situation: une barbare chrétienne, le chrétien, le rené au baptême, le porte-Christ par la grâce, "l'aimée de Dieu jusqu'à la mort"...  mais la martyre des catacombes a bien existé et puisqu'elle a exaucé le Curé d'Ars, pourquoi ne nous exaucerait-elle pas?
Autres liens:
- "La petite sainte du Curé d'Ars" (sanctuaire d'Ars)

Santa Filomena di Roma (en italien)

- Mark Miravalle, S.T.D. "Statut ecclésial actuel de la dévotion à sainte Philomène":

...la dévotion populaire à Sainte Philomène, vierge et martyre, est actuellement bien vivante parmi le Peuple de Dieu; elle jouit d'un statut ecclésial positif et d'une vénération généreusement grandissante. La sagesse des Papes et des Saints du passé a reconnu que l'«histoire» de la puissante intercession surnaturelle de Philomène pour l'Église était plus importante que l'«histoire» de son existence terrestre. Telle est la manifestation des voies mystérieuses du dessein salvifique de Dieu...

(*) voir les messages envoyés par nos internautes au sujet de cette sainte martyre.

Sainte Philomène est présente en statue et vitrail dans l'église de Buxy (71) et en statue dans l'église de Cersot (71)


Vénérable Théodelinde Bourcin-Dubouché. Sainte Philomène, 1839, Autel Sainte Philomène, Cathédrale Notre-Dame,  Bayeux, 


SAINTE PHILOMÈNE

Vierge et Martyre

(IIIe siècle)

Le tombeau de cette vierge et martyre, inconnue jusqu'aux premières années du siècle dernier, fut providentiellement découvert aux catacombes, l'an 1802. Dieu a rendu célèbre par tant de miracles la découverte du corps de sainte Philomène; le culte de cette jeune Sainte s'est répandu dans tout l'univers avec une rapidité si merveilleuse; elle a reçu et reçoit de toutes parts des hommages si exceptionnels, qu'elle mérite d'être placée au premier rang parmi les vierges et martyres que vénère l'Église.

Le saint curé d'Ars l'appelait sa chère petite Sainte et faisait des merveilles par son invocation.

D'après les études fort sérieuses des savants, sainte Philomène aurait été une enfant du peuple, immolée au Ier siècle pour Jésus-Christ, à l'âge de douze ou treize ans. L'examen de ses ossements a permis d'apprécier son âge; la fiole de sang desséché trouvée dans sa tombe indique clairement son martyre; les instruments de supplice peints sur la plaque de terre cuite qui fermait le tombeau, les flèches, l'ancre, la torche, nous montrent quels genres de tortures elle a souffert; l'inscription: La paix soit avec toi, Philomène, nous fait connaître son nom vénéré.

C'est à bon droit que sainte Philomène a été appelée la Thaumaturge du XIXe siècle. Aucun Saint peut-être, dans ce siècle, n'a opéré tant de prodiges. On l'invoque dans tous les besoins; mais elle semble s'être déclarée surtout l'amie et la protectrice des petits enfants. De tous les miracles qu'elle a faits, le plus grand est l'explosion de confiance et d'amour qu'elle a excitée en toute l'Église.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.


Je vous salue, ô innocente Philomène qui, par l'amour de Jésus, avez conservé dans tout son éclat le lis de la virginité. Je vous salue, ô illustre Philomène, qui avez répandu si courageusement votre sang pour Jésus-Christ.

Je bénis le Seigneur pour toutes les grâces qu'Il vous a accordées pendant votre vie, et tout spécialement à l'heure de votre mort. Je Le loue et Le glorifie pour l'honneur et la puissance avec lesquels Il vous a couronnée, et je vous supplie d'obtenir pour moi auprès de Dieu les grâces que je demande par votre intercession.

Sainte Philomène, fille bien-aimée de Jésus et de Marie, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous. Ainsi soit-il.

Sainte Philomène, priez pour nous!

Revue Magnificat consacrée à sainte Philomène

Sainte Philomène

« La petite sainte du Curé d’Ars »

Pour faire le point au sujet de sainte Philomène, il semble important de mettre en lumière trois aspects : son existence, sa biographie et enfin son culte.

L’existence de sainte Philomène

Découverte des ossements et de l’inscription

En 1802, au cours des fouilles officielles entreprises sous l’autorité du Saint-Siège, on découvrit, dans la catacombe romaine de Priscille, les ossements d’une jeune fille dont la sépulture était fermée par trois briques portant cette inscription : « LUMENA / PAX TE / CUM FI ». On jugea que, par inadvertance, l’ordre des briques avait été inversé et qu’il fallait lire :« PAX TE / CUM FI / LUMENA », c’est-à-dire : « La paix soit avec toi, Philomène », nom qui signifie « bien aimée ». Les différents signes décoratifs qui entouraient son nom - surtout la palme et les lances - incitèrent à considérer ces ossements comme ceux d’une martyre des premiers siècles chrétiens. On pensait alors que la majorité des corps présents dans les Catacombes dataient des persécutions romaines de l’époque apostolique.

Difficulté de l’identification et de la datation

Plusieurs chercheurs (Marucchi-Leclercq) ont conclu que les ossements devaient être plus sûrement attribués à une défunte du IVe siècle, à une époque où l’on enterrait massivement dans les catacombes et où l’on fermait les tombes avec des morceaux d’anciennes épitaphes trouvées sur place. Mgr Trochu, biographe du saint Curé, a montré la fragilité de cette hypothèse et opté pour une date ancienne, proche de l’âge apostolique ; du point de vue de la science historique, rien n’est donc définitivement tranché. Aujourd’hui, on peut dire que l’existence de sainte Philomène n’est ni plus, ni moins prouvée - historiquement - que celle d’autres saints officiellement vénérés dans l’Église (saint Georges, par exemple). L’attestation de nombreux miracles et la piété largement répandue chez de nombreux fidèles et pasteurs - notamment celle du Curé d’Ars - ne sont pas des preuves déterminantes du point de vue de la science historique. Elles incitent pourtant à respecter la mémoire de celle dont les ossements ont été découverts, il y a deux cents ans.

La biographie de sainte Philomène

La relation de Dom François di Lucia

Les récits sur la vie de sainte Philomène s’alimentent uniquement à deux « sources » récentes. D’abord, Dom François di Lucia, prêtre de Nole dans la région de Naples. En 1805, il devient détenteur des reliques et rédige en 1824 une « Relation », sorte de « biographie » de sainte Philomène, dont il faisait une martyre de la persécution de Dioclétien au IVe siècle. Son récit a été rédigé uniquement à partir de l’interprétation des signes décoratifs entourant l’inscription : ainsi la vierge martyre aurait été d’abord percée de flèches (lances), puis jetée dans le Tibre (ancre) avant d’être décapitée par le glaive, etc…

Les visions de Sœur Marie-Louise de Jésus

La source la plus circonstanciée de la « vie » de sainte Philomène est constituée par les visions d’une religieuse napolitaine, Sœur Marie-Louise de Jésus, qui a pu s’inspirer du livre de Dom Lucia. Un « récit abrégé » de ses révélations a été publié par Dom Lucia lui-même, en 1833. Le livre a obtenu l’Imprimatur du Saint Office (devenu depuis Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi) ; ce qui ne garantit pas l’authenticité des visions, mais atteste que rien, dans le texte, n’est contraire à la foi et aux mœurs. Cette « biographie » reprend la plupart des éléments communs à l’histoire des vierges martyres des premiers siècles de l’ère chrétienne ; elle a aussi inspiré au peintre Borel les fresques intérieures de la Basilique d’Ars. Mais la transcription d’une révélation privée n’est pas garantie par l’Église.

Une mise au point provisoire

En 1929, le célèbre biographe du Curé d’Ars, Mgr Trochu, a publié une étude documentée sur la question de sainte Philomène. L’auteur s’efforce de répondre aux objections de Marucchi et Leclercq concernant l’identification et la datation des ossements. Il reste très discret sur la vie de Philomène et se contente d’imaginer les grandes étapes de son initiation chrétienne, compte tenu des usages de l’époque : son baptême et sa confirmation, sa consécration dans l’ordre des vierges, son martyre… La plus grande partie de son travail concerne cependant l’histoire du culte de la sainte.

Le culte de sainte Philomène

Une dévotion populaire

À la faveur de nombreux miracles, la dévotion populaire à sainte Philomène s’est propagée très rapidement, en particulier à partir de 1805, à l’occasion du transfert de ses reliques à Mugnano (Italie). C’est Pauline Jaricot (lyonnaise et fondatrice de l’œuvre de la Propagation de la Foi) qui, à la suite d’un pèlerinage et de sa propre guérison, apporta des reliques au Curé d’Ars. La fête se célébrait alors à Ars le 11 août.

Un culte reconnu

En 1837, le Pape Grégoire XVI autorise en effet le culte public de la sainte, d’abord pour le sanctuaire de Mugnano, puis pour le diocèse de Naples. Avec les indults nécessaires, la permission est accordée à la paroisse d’Ars, à la grande joie de Jean-Marie Vianney. En 1855, une Messe et un Office propres sont approuvés par le bienheureux Pie IX, qui se rend lui-même au Sanctuaire de Mugnano. Léon XIII et saint Pie X témoignent aussi publiquement de leur dévotion envers elle, sans que ces actes, bien sûr, n’engagent leur infaillibilité quant aux données historiques sur la vie et le martyre de Philomène.

Une prudente réserve

Il demeure que bien des précisions d’ordre historique nous font défaut à son sujet, et ni les miracles, ni la dévotion des fidèles ne peuvent y suppléer. De plus, on ne trouve aucun témoignage des premiers siècles concernant la manifestation d’une dévotion envers Philomène. C’est pourquoi, selon les critères exigeants de la science historique contemporaine, lors de la révision du martyrologe romain en 1961, le nom de Philomène n’a pas été conservé. Cette décision liturgique ne tranche pas la question historique, mais la laisse en suspens dans l’attente d’études plus complètes.

En conclusion

Actuellement, l’hypothèse favorable à l’existence historique de Philomène n’est pas exclue. Les restes retrouvés à Rome en 1802 peuvent très bien être ceux d’une authentique élue, quels que soient son nom, sa vie et les circonstances de sa mort. À travers les prodiges qui se sont multipliés autour de ses reliques, Dieu a pu vouloir la faire connaître au monde dans un dessein particulier de miséricorde, comme le suggèrent tant de témoignages concordants. L’Église est une Mère prudente pour ses enfants. Elle règle avec sûreté ce qui concerne le culte des saints. Elle s’assure d’abord de leur existence et des marques certaines de leur sainteté. Elle est aussi juge de l’opportunité de les présenter ou non à la vénération publique et à l’imitation des fidèles. Pour le moment, l’Église estime préférable de ne pas promouvoir le culte public de sainte Philomène. C’est pourquoi, dans un esprit de filialité, le Sanctuaire d’Ars n’organise pas de célébrations publiques. Ceci est tout spécialement vrai sur le lieu où l’Église nous invite à venir prier le saint Curé et où elle nous le donne comme « patron de tous les curés de l’univers ». Pour autant, les pèlerins d’Ars, comme les chrétiens du monde entier, peuvent librement témoigner de manière privée leur dévotion envers sainte Philomène, et prier Dieu par son intercession. Dieu entend toute prière faite avec foi et exauce la sincérité d’un cœur croyant. À la demande du Sanctuaire d’Ars, la Congrégation pour le Culte divin a pris en charge le dossier de sainte Philomène, en liaison avec la Congrégation pour la Cause des saints. Nous attendons les conclusions de la Commission ad hoc. D’avance, nous nous en remettons, en toute filialité, au jugement de l’Église concernant l’existence et la vie de sainte Philomène, et à ses sages décisions relativement à son culte.

SOURCE : https://www.arsnet.org/Sainte-Philomene.html?lang=fr


Sainte Philomène, L’histoire passionnante d’une Sainte énigmatique

Qui était Sainte Philomène? Pourquoi Jean Marie Vianney, le Saint Curé d’Ars était si attaché à cette petite sainte? Quels miracles entourent l’histoire de cette jeune martyre et la découverte de ses reliques? Partons à la découverte passionnante d’une sainte énigmatique : Philomène.

Sainte Philomène : La Naissance d’une jeune Martyre

Rome, 25 mai 1802. Une découverte capitale interrompt brusquement des fouilles dans la plus ancienne partie de la catacombe de Sainte Priscille. En effet, une tombe ornée de l’inscription énigmatique LUMENA PAXTE CUM FI est mise au jour. Sans tarder, le voile sur cette première énigme se lève. Une fois l’ordre des trois blocs portant l’inscription modifié, il apparaît clairement cette belle épitaphe : PAXTE CUM FILUMENA signifiant « La Paix soit avec toi, Philomène ».

Peu de temps après, derrière la cloison, on retrouve les ossements d’une jeune fille de 12 à 15 ans. Une fiole de sang, de petite taille et à moitié brisée, gît à côté. Ce dernier détail apporte un indice capital aux archéologues. En effet, ce genre de petit vase était habituellement disposé dans les tombes des martyrs par les premiers chrétiens. Nous venons d’assister à la naissance de Sainte Philomène, jeune martyre du début de l’ère chrétienne.

Dès lors, on associe des phénomènes extraordinaires à cette humble petite sainte : miracles autour de ses reliques, guérisons, grande dévotion populaire, … Découvrez les origines passionnantes du culte dédié à Sainte Philomène. Mais aussi les causes profondes de l’extraordinaire expansion de ce dernier au sein du monde chrétien.

Les Origines du Culte de la petite Sainte Philomène : Découverte du corps et transport des Reliques

La Tombe d’une Martyre

Premier indice prouvant le statut de martyre de Sainte Philomène, la fiole de sang. Mais elle n’est pas le seul signe qui permit d’élever la jeune fille à ce noble état. En effet, la tombe de notre « Bien-aimée » Philomène – comme l’origine de son nom nous encourage à la nommer (du grec Phileo qui signifie « aimer ») – décelait d’autres trésors. Ainsi, différents symboles particulièrement évocateurs ornaient soigneusement l’inscription tombale. Une palme indiquant le triomphe du ciel, une fleur comme signe de l’innocence, une ancre symbolisant l’espérance éternelle et trois flèches évoquant probablement les instruments du supplice l’habillaient également.

Ces différents ornements tout comme la présence de la fiole de sang laissaient peu de place au doute : nous étions en présence de la tombe d’une sainte martyre. C’est ainsi qu’une fois identifiés, les ossements datant au plus tard de l’an 150 après Jésus-Christ furent donc pieusement transportés au Trésor des reliques. Elle fût d’ailleurs leur nouvelle demeure durant trois années.

Un Reliquaire source de grands prodiges

Fin juin 1805. Don François de Lucia, le prêtre de Mugnano, une ville aux environs de Naples, part à Rome à la recherche d’un reliquaire pour son église. Touché par le doux nom de la martyre, il porte son choix sur les reliques de Sainte Philomène. Une nouvelle demeure accueille alors la martyre : l’Eglise des Grâces à Mugnano. Son arrivée dans la ville ne passe pas inaperçue et pour cause, une série de miracles se succèdent en sa présence :

C’est d’abord Angel Bianco, qui, frappé d’une mauvaise goutte, voit ses prières exaucées le jour de l’arrivée du reliquaire. En effet, il apparaît guéri à l’église devant tous ceux qui le connaissaient impotent depuis plusieurs mois.

Puis la veuve de Mercogliano, venue avec son fils estropié à la messe du dimanche, voit son fils entièrement guéri marcher vers le reliquaire. C’est au moment même où elle est en train de prier avec ferveur Sainte Philomène que cet évènement se produit. « Miracle ! » scande la foule de croyants rassemblés.

Mais aussi la mère d’une petite fille aveugle. Confortée par le miracle survenu le matin même, elle décide de recouvrir les yeux malades de son enfant d’huile contenue dans la lampe placée devant Sainte Philomène. La fillette est immédiatement guérie, sous les yeux émerveillées de la foule présente dans l’Eglise.

Désormais la source des miracles étaient ouverte et ne devaient plus tarir.

La Guérison de Pauline Jaricot : Le Miracle qui fit la renommée de Sainte Philomène

« Un Miracle de premier ordre »

Entièrement vouée aux œuvres de piété, fondatrice du Rosaire-Vivant et de la Propagation de la Foi, la Lyonnaise Pauline Jaricot connut Philomène et ses prodiges par le biais des Frères de Saint-Jean-de-Dieu. Frappée par une grave maladie de cœur, elle décida d’entreprendre un pèlerinage à Mugnano. Sa renommée dans le monde chrétien l’ayant précédée, la venue en Italie de Pauline Jaricot ne passa pas inaperçue. Le Pape Grégoire XVI lui-même se déplaça pour la voir et constater la gravité de son état. Un étrange dialogue conclu alors leur rencontre. Et c’est remplie de foi que Pauline fit faire une promesse au Pontife. Il procéderait immédiatement à l’examen définitif de la cause de Philomène si elle parvenait à aller au Vatican, à pied, à son retour de Mugnano. Le Pape assura à l’illustre malade que, si cela se produisait, ce serait un « miracle de premier ordre ».

Le 8 août 1835, la moribonde arriva à Mugnano. Deux jours plus tard, lors de la fête de la Sainte, Pauline Jaricot passe la journée entière devant les reliques. Le soir même, sous les yeux stupéfaits du gardien de l’Eglise, la malade pleine de zèle marche et délaisse le grand fauteuil qui ne la quittait plus ces derniers mois. Les cloches se mettent à sonner à la volée. Tout le monde peut venir constater le nouveau miracle. Emu par la guérison miraculeuse de Pauline, Grégoire XVI la retient un an à Rome. Il tient également sa promesse à la miraculée en donnant l’ordre d’instruire canoniquement la cause de Philomène. Et en 1837, il autorise le culte public de Sainte Philomène au sanctuaire de Mugnano.

Le Curé D’Ars : Les Origines de sa dévotion à Sainte Philomène

De retour en France, Pauline Jaricot plaça les reliques et l’image qu’elle avait rapportées de sa bienfaitrice au sein d’une chapelle. C’est ainsi qu’elle fit bâtir sur sa propriété, cet édifice, en l’honneur de la petite sainte. Pauline Jaricot conserva néanmoins une relique pour l’offrir au curé d’Ars. Un modeste prêtre du diocèse de Belley qui deviendra une figure sacerdotale majeure de ce siècle. Selon elle, Sainte Philomène pouvait permettre au curé d’obtenir tout ce qu’il lui demanderai. C’était le début d’une relation privilégiée entre le prêtre et la Sainte. Quelle que soit la faveur demandée par le curé, cette dernière était exaucée par Philomène. Les miracles se succédèrent les uns après les autres. Jusqu’à cette année 1843 où le saint homme, frappée d’une fluxion de poitrine, en bénéficia personnellement. Alors qu’il avait reçu les derniers sacrements et qu’une messe à sa Sainte se disait pour lui, le curé d’Ars entra dans un étrange sommeil. Il murmura le nom de sa protectrice encore et encore. Peu après, il se réveilla complètement guéri.

Durant 41 ans, l’église d’Ars n’a jamais désempli et longtemps elle résonna des éloges du saint homme en faveur de la petite Sainte Philomène.

SOURCE : https://www.exvotodei.com/sainte-philomene.html


Danmarks kyrka, Diocese of Uppsala. Statue of saint Philomena at entrance.


Une sainte à découvrir absolument : sainte Philomène, la « chère petite Sainte » du Curé d’Ars !

Sainte Philomène, qui es-tu?

Plan du dossier :

Avant-propos

I) La découverte du corps de sainte Philomène

II) Les merveilles de Mugnano

A) Les premiers miracles

B) La guérison de Pauline JARICOT

1) Le voyage vers Mugnano

2) Pauline JARICOT et Grégoire XVI

3) La guérison de Pauline JARICOT

C) Philomène et le saint Curé d’Ars

D) Philomène et les Papes

III) Des merveilles peu ordinaires

A) Le sang de la Sainte

B) La « figure » de cire

C) La grande statue

D) Les signes

IV) Qui est réellement sainte Philomène ?

A) Trois révélations intéressantes

B) Sainte Philomène raconte sa vie

V) Les controverses

VI) Prières à Sainte Philomène

Prière quotidienne

Autres prières à sainte Philomène : Prières et dévotions à sainte Philomène

Avant-propos

Ce devait être en 1816 ou 1817. Près d’Écully, à Tassin, dans une maison que Mr JARICOT avait cédée à sa fille aînée devenue Madame Perrin, se réunissaient de temps en temps toute la famille JARICOT et quelques ecclésiastiques. Monsieur VIANNEY, curé d’Ars, était également invité. C’est au cours de l’une de ces réunions que Jean-Marie VIANNEY entendit parler pour la première fois de Sainte Philomène. On racontait que le corps de cette jeune vierge martyre avait été découvert depuis peu dans une catacombe romaine. On disait aussi qu’elle multipliait les miracles. Monsieur VIANNEY écoutait très attentivement…

Bientôt, en 1818, Jean-Marie VIANNEY arrivait à Ars. Sa renommée de sainteté s’établit rapidement, et en 1828, on venait déjà de loin pour se confesser à lui. On disait même qu’il lisait dans les consciences et qu’il faisait des miracles… Oui, la chose était connue, et cela ennuyait bien notre Monsieur le Curé. Des infirmes et des malades venaient à Ars, et ils s’en retournaient chez eux valides et guéris. Et cela se savait, et Mr VIANNEY était bien gêné… Mais Philomène arriva… et le saint curé d’Ars multiplia les louanges envers la petite sainte à qui il attribua tous ses miracles.

Que s’était-il donc passé ?

I) La découverte du corps de sainte Philomène

Un certain 24 mai 1802, un ouvrier, déblayant une galerie dans la catacombe de Sainte Priscille à Rome, découvrit une tombe. Averti des procédures à suivre dans ces cas-là, il fit part de sa découverte aux autorités ecclésistiques qui décidèrent de l’ouvrir le lendemain, le 25 mai 1802. Le savant archéologue qui accompagnait l’équipe nota que la  tombe était fermée, en haut, par trois blocs de terre cuite sur lesquels étaient peints en rouge les symboles chrétiens du martyre: une palme, emblème du triomphe des martyrs, deux flèches et une lance, une la point en bas et les deux autres la pointe en haut; ces flèches témoignaient du genre de mort subi par certains martyrs qui mouraient transpercés par des flèches. Étaient également dessinées une ancre, car on attachait une ancre au cou des martyrs que l’on voulait noyer, ainsi qu’une fleur de lys, symbole de la pureté.

Il y avait aussi une inscription: « LUMENA PAXTE CUM FI. Il apparaissait évident que les blocs de fermeture n’avaient été correctement mis en place, et, en les bougeant, on obtint: « PAXTE CUM FILUMENA » soit: « La Paix soit avec toi, Philomène », ce dernier nom signifiant « Bien aimée » (du grec Phileo : aimer), ou d’après la racine latine « Fille de la lumière » (Filia luminis).

D’une main respectueuse, Mgr Ludovici, gardien des reliques, enleva la cloison légère, et l’on vit que la tombe contenait des ossements qu’on identifia comme étant ceux d’une jeune fille de treize à quinze ans dont le crâne avait été fracturé. Les archéologues découvrirent également, près de la tête, une petite fiole de sang à demi brisée (ce genre de petit vase était habituellement joint par les premiers chrétiens aux tombes des martyrs). Les humbles ossements furent immédiatement rassemblés, et transportés pieusement au Trésor des reliques. Ni le vénérable prélat, ni les témoins de la scène ne pensaient, en retournant à Rome, leur précieux fardeau dans les bras, qu’ils portaient l’une des plus glorieuses thaumaturges de l’Église. L’endroit où l’on venait de découvrir cette nouvelle tombe étant la plus ancienne partie de toute la catacombe de sainte Priscille, on estima que la sainte martyre, Philomène, avait vécu au plus tard, vers l’an 150 de l’ère chrétienne. Il y avait, par conséquent, mille sept cents ans que son corps dormait là.

En juin 1805, soit trois ans après leur découverte, les reliques de la jeune martyre furent confiées à la paroisse de Mugnano, petite bourgade du Royaume de Naples. L’église qui allait les garder s’appelait l’Eglise des Grâces. Maintenant la Sainte était bien chez elle, là où Dieu la voulait. Commença alors une série ininterrompue de miracles et de merveilles comme on en voit rarement… et ce fut par Angel Bianco, un habitant de Mugnano atteint depuis plusieurs mois d’une goutte tenace, très douloureuse et handicapante, que sainte Philomène commença à distribuer ses bienfaits.

Le curé d’Ars découvrit la petite sainte Philomène grâce à Pauline JARICOT qui lui avait donné une parcelle de la relique qu’elle avait pu obtenir. En lui remettant la relique, Pauline avait dit au bon Curé : « Monsieur le Curé, ayez grande confiance en cette Sainte ; elle vous obtiendra tout ce que vous lui demanderez ». Mystérieusement, une intime et mystique amitié lia la sainte martyre et le bon curé. Sainte Philomène devenait pour Mr VIANNEY « sa chère petite sainte, son consul, son prête-nom, sa chargée d’affaires près de Dieu. »

II) Les merveilles de Mugnano

A) Les premiers miracles

Il est impossible de rapporter tous les miracles accomplis grâce à l’intercession de sainte Philomène. Nous n’en mentionnerons que quelques-uns choisis parmi des centaines d’autres.

– Une veuve supplia Philomène, pendant une messe, de guérir son enfant infirme. Au moment de la consécration, on vit l’enfant sauter sur ses jambes et courir jusqu’à l’urne qui contenait les reliques de Ste Philomène pour la remercier. À Mugnano la joie fut vive, et les manifestations de reconnaissance, bruyantes… Dès lors, les foules affluèrent.

– Une maman affligée trempa son doigt dans l’huile de la lampe qui brûlait devant la sainte et l’appliqua sur les yeux de son enfant aveugle ; instantanément l’enfant recouvra la vue. De très nombreux autres aveugles recouvrèrent la vue à Mugnano, près des reliques de Ste Philomène.

– De nombreuses femmes ayant des difficultés pour mettre au monde leurs enfants furent immédiatement soulagées après avoir invoqué sainte Philomène.

Un point important est à signaler. Philomène veut qu’on remplisse les engagements qu’on a pris envers elle, et qu’on tienne ses promesses, sinon, elle se fâche…

B) La guérison de Pauline JARICOT

1) Le voyage vers Mugnano

Pauline JARICOT, issue d’une famille très fortunée, avait été à l’origine de l’Œuvre de La propagation de la Foi et la fondatrice du Rosaire Vivant. Elle avait joué également un rôle important dans l’établissement de l’association de la Sainte Enfance. Nous sommes maintenant en 1834 et Pauline a 35 ans.  Elle était gravement malade du cœur, sa faiblesse était extrême, et bientôt on crut qu’elle allait mourir.

C’est alors qu’elle décida d’aller à Mugnano. C’était une pure folie car elle était bien incapable de supporter un tel voyage, mais laissons-la raconter :

« – Totalement épuisée par la douleur, je me disais en moi-même :

« J’ai survécu au choc terrible et à l’excitation du bombardement* et je suis toujours en vie, alors que bien des semaines et des mois ont passé. Il y a sûrement en cela un secret dessein de la Providence divine… Je réussis à obtenir du médecin qu’il me dise que mon état était si désespéré que ce que je pouvais faire n’avait plus d’importance. Cette déclaration calma mes scrupules… j’ai entendu le médecin murmurer sans savoir que j’étais éveillée: « Laissez-la tranquille, laissez-la partir, elle n’ira pas bien loin. »

[*En 1834, Lyon connut des émeutes sanglantes: les canuts renouvelèrent leur insurrection de 1831 car les promesses qui leur avaient été faites n’avaient pas été tenues. En effet, ils travaillaient 16 heures par jour, entassés avec leur famille dans d’étroits logements; ils supportaient péniblement les méfaits du machinisme]

Le voyage fut terrible, et à chaque instant on croyait que Pauline allait mourir. Lorsque les hommes qui accompagnaient Pauline eurent atteint le sommet du mont Cenis, il s’arrêtèrent pour contempler le paysage. C’est à ce moment qu’apparut soudain un bel enfant qui s’approcha de Pauline, lui sourit gentiment et lui offrit une rose blanche. Personne ne savait d’où venait cet enfant, les guides ne l’avaient jamais vu auparavant. Puis l’enfant disparut aussi soudainement qu’il était venu… Or dans ces régions enneigées, les roses ne poussaient pas.

2) Pauline JARICOT et Grégoire XVI

Le voyage reprit. Pauline était presque inconsciente quand elle arriva à Rome, et c’est Grégoire XVI lui-même qui se déplaça pour aller voir « sa chère fille », chez les religieuses du Sacré-Cœur, à la Trinité des Monts, où elle était logée.  Le Pape loua le courage de Pauline et la bénit: il pensait ne plus la revoir, jamais…

Mais Pauline ne mourut pas encore. Elle arriva à Mugnano la veille de la fête de Sainte Philomène. Les habitants de Mugnano prièrent avec force leur sainte chérie, à la manière italienne, en criant et en frappant l’urne qui contenait les reliques: « Tu nous entends, Philomène! Si tu ne réponds pas immédiatement à notre prière, nous ne t’invoquerons plus; tout sera fini entre nous. » Philomène entendit et guérit Pauline.

3) La guérison de Pauline JARICOT

Nous sommes le 10 août 1835. Pauline était installée près de l’urne de sainte Philomène. Après avoir reçu la sainte Communion, elle ressentit dans tout son corps des douleurs si violentes qu’elle s’évanouit. Croyant que Pauline était morte la foule se mit à hurler, mais bientôt Pauline JARICOT reprit conscience; sa joie était telle qu’elle se crut arrivée au paradis, mais ce n’était pas encore l’heure: elle était simplement guérie la petite Philomène avait accompli un nouveau miracle. Pauline resta quelque temps à Mugnano, puis quand il fallut partir, elle emporta avec elle une grande relique de sainte Philomène. Sur la route qui l’emmenait à Rome, les foules manifestaient leur joie et leur enthousiasme. À Rome elle fut reçue par Grégoire XVI qui lui demanda de rester à Rome pendant un an, afin qu’une enquête approfondie puisse être menée sur ce miracle dont elle était la bénéficiaire. Puis Pauline rentra en France, à Fourvière.

Le 30 janvier 1837, Grégoire XVI autorisait le culte de sainte Philomène.

C) Philomène et le saint Curé d’Ars

Nous savons que Jean-Marie VIANNEY avait rencontré plusieurs fois Mademoiselle Pauline JARICOT. Après sa guérison spectaculaire, et son retour en France, Pauline donna un morceau de la grande relique qu’elle avait rapportée de Rome au Curé d’Ars en disant :

– Monsieur le Curé, ayez grande confiance en cette Sainte; elle vous obtiendra tout ce que vous lui demanderez.

Désormais Jean-Marie VIANNEY et la petite Philomène, Vierge martyre, ne se quitteront plus. Il lui parlait constamment, et elle faisait tout ce qu’il voulait. Quelque faveur qu’on lui demandât en son nom, elle l’accordait… Le curé d’Ars se sentait parfois mal à l’aise devant tant de miracles que les gens lui attribuaient à lui. Mais la petite sainte continuait ses miracles; elle voulut même en faire un pour le saint curé.

C’était en 1843. À force de se priver de tout, de nourriture et de feu, le saint homme avait gagné une fluxion de poitrine. Il était très mal; on lui administra les derniers sacrements, et l’on attendait la fin. Tout à coup, pendant la célébration d’une messe dite pour lui en l’honneur de Sainte Philomène, il s’endormit doucement, et se réveilla peu de temps après absolument guéri. Durant ce sommeil mystérieux, on l’entendit murmurer plusieurs fois le nom de sa protectrice. On a dit que Philomène lui serait apparu. Un tableau placé dans la belle chapelle de la Sainte, à Ars, perpétue le souvenir de cette miraculeuse guérison.

Dès lors s’établit entre le saint curé et sa protectrice une familiarité encore plus grande, une sorte de présence réelle.

Beaucoup de curés de paroisses de France voulurent imiter Jean-Marie VIANNEY. On peut vraiment affirmer que sans quitter son village, Jean-Marie VIANNEY a couvert la France de sanctuaires en l’honneur de sainte Philomène. En 1859, l’année de sa mort, il avait mis la France aux pieds de sa sainte et douce amie (d’après le « Messager Canadien du Sacré-Coeur », vol. V, août et septembre 1896)

D) Philomène et les Papes

Depuis le 9 août 1805, jour de l’arrivée des reliques de Philomène à Mugnano, les miracles s’étaient multipliés. Ces nombreux miracles suscitèrent, naturellement, de tels sarcasmes et critiques que l’Église incita les tribunaux ecclésiastiques à une très grande vigilance. Cependant,  même les Papes s’autorisaient à rendre à Philomène les hommages les plus élogieux. Ainsi, Léon XII admirait les desseins de Dieu qui donnait tant de pouvoirs à une petite martyre si longtemps ignorée, et accordait que des autels et des chapelles lui fussent dédiés. Le 10 août 1823, la statue de sainte Philomène se mit à suinter une huile parfumée. En août 1833, Philomène se révélait à Sœur Marie-Louise de Jésus, une religieuse tertiaire dominicaine pour lui raconter sa vie. Ce récit reçut l’imprimatur le 21 décembre 1833. Nous avons vu plus haut que Pauline JARICOT fut guérie le 10 août 1835 et que Grégoire XVI autorisa le culte de sainte Philomène le 30 janvier 1837 ; il établit sa fête et son office propre, et la déclara : « la plus grande thaumaturge du XIXe siècle ». Il devait bientôt lui donner le titre de « Patronne du Rosaire Vivant ».

Pie IX avait été miraculeusement guéri par sainte Philomène quand il était Archevêque de Spolète. Devenu Pie IX et chassé de Rome par la Révolution de 1848 il vint célébrer prsonnellement la messe à Mugnano le 7 novembre 1849. Il pria pour demander à sainte Philomène d’intercéder auprès de Dieu pour que la liberté du siège apostolique fut respectée.  Cinq mois plus tard, il pouvait rentrer à Rome. Il déclara sainte Philomène  « Patronne secondaire du Royaume de Naples« , et confirma le 31 janvier 1855, l’Office propre et la Messe de sainte Philomène. Il nomma Philomène « Patronne des Enfants de Marie ».

Léon XIII, avant de devenir Pape, fit deux pèlerinages à Mugnano. Il accorda, le 24 septembre 1889, le titre et le privilège d’Archiconfrérie à l’Œuvre de sainte Philomène, pour la France.

Saint Pie X fut tout aussi dévoué à la petite sainte, et il en parlait souvent.

Nous savons combien l’Église est toujours très prudente lorsqu’il s’agit de reconnaître officiellement l’authenticité d’un miracle. Constater que plusieurs Papes se sont personnellement investis en faveur de sainte Philomène et de son culte est une preuve éclatante de la véracité des faits concernant sainte Philomène.



III) Des merveilles peu ordinaires

Nous avons mentionné les guérisons miraculeuses qui se produisirent à  Mugnano, près des reliques de sainte Philomène. On pourrait dire qu’il s’agissait là de miracles « ordinaires », s’il est permis de s’exprimer ainsi. Mais à Mugnano d’autres prodiges se manifestèrent, étonnants. Ces merveilles concernent: le sang de sainte Philomène contenu dans un petit vase, une statue en cire qui contient les ossements de la sainte martyre, et la grande statue en bois, offerte en 1806, par le Cardinal RUFFO-SCILLA. Nous mentionnerons aussi quelques « signes » particuliers.

A) Le sang de la Sainte

Le sang de Philomène contenu dans un vase de cristal est très sec et ressemble à des cendres. Tous les visiteurs peuvent le voir parfaitement. Cette poussière devrait normalement demeurer inerte. Or il n’en est rien. Sous les yeux des pèlerins, le sang se transforme et des pierres précieuses apparaissent: des rubis, des émeraudes, des particules d’or et d’argent. Parfois, il y a aussi des particules noires: on dit qu’elles présagent des désagréments, des affliction, ou révèlent l’indignité de ceux qui vénèrent la relique. Ces transformations ont été vérifiées et déclarées authentiques par les plus hautes autorités ecclésiastiques (L’ampoule du sang est maintenant dans la châsse de la sainte. Il y avait autrefois un reliquaire où l’on avait mis une partie du sang pour l’offrir au baiser des fidèles. Ce reliquaire a été volé en 1972. (d’après une note du livre du R.P. Paul O’SULLIVAN, Sainte Philomène, la chère « petite sainte » du curé d’Ars).

On peut citer, notamment:

– le Cardinal RUFFO-SCILLA qui, apposant les sceaux sur le vase contenant le sang de sainte Philomène, vit ce sang se changer en plusieurs pierres précieuses brillantes…

– le Cardinal Deschamps, archevêque de Malines, qui raconta, lors d’un pèlerinage à Mugnano :

« J’ai vu ce précieux sang… qui était d’abord terne et durci; et voici que Jésus-Christ, en lui communiquant un rayon de la gloire de l’âme qui l’a offert pour lui, le rend éblouissant comme un arc en ciel. C’est vraiment merveilleux. Je le savais pour l’avoir lu, mais je peux dire maintenant que je l’ai vu de mes propres yeux.« 

B) La « figure » de cire

Une « figure » de cire contenant les ossements de Philomène est conservée dans une urne vitrée qui permet de voir l’image. Cette image, somptueusement vêtue porte, sur un doigt de la main droite, une grosse bague ornée d’une topaze, offerte par saint Pie X. À plusieurs reprises la statue se transforma. Une première fois le 29 septembre 1805 : à la surprise des personnes présentes, la statue, de facture grossière et mal installée dans son coffret d’ébène trop petit, prit une position plus gracieuse, et le visage, assez laid, devint superbe. Vingt ans plus tard, en 1824, lorsqu’on eut remplacé le premier coffret par un autre plus beau et plus grand, on eut la surprise de voir les yeux s’ouvrir et les pieds et les jambes s’allonger comme pour occuper toute la place.

En 1841, la statue était placée de telle sorte que tout le monde ne pouvait pas la voir; soudain tout l’assemblée vit la statue se tourner de trois-quarts pour devenir visible à tous. Le 27 mai 1892, la statue changea encore de position.

C) La grande statue

La grande statue offerte par le Cardinal RUFFO-SCILLA en 1806, sert, entre autres, lors des processions publiques de la sainte. En 1823, lors d’une procession, les porteurs la sentirent soudain anormalement lourde. Des couleurs fleurissaient sur son visage, le rendant comme vivant. Le lendemain une sorte de transpiration perlant sur le front de la statue, remplissait l’air d’un parfum délicieux. Ce prodige dura longtemps. Il fut examiné et authentifié par les autorités civiles et ecclésiastiques.

D) Les signes

Parfois sortent de l’urne des sons cristallins comme si le verre était frappé par quelque chose de dur. Ce signe est bien connu.

D’autres signes ont été signalés; nous citerons la multiplication de livres racontant la vie de sainte Philomène, ou d’images de la Sainte. Une fois des reliques furent confiées à des personnes qui ne les traitèrent pas avec assez d’amour: elles disparurent. On les retrouva plus tard dans l’urne contenant les ossements de la sainte…

IV) Qui est réellement sainte Philomène ?

A) Trois révélations intéressantes

Les recherches humaines, même celles des plus grands savants du XIXème siècle, n’ont donné aucun renseignement sur la vie de sainte Philomène. Mais à trois personnes, fort éloignées géographiquement et ne se connaissant pas, Philomène a révélé sa vie: un jeune artisan d’une conscience pure et d’une piété solide; un prêtre zélé, honoré plus tard des dignités de l’Église, une religieuse napolitaine de trente-cinq ans, consacrée à Dieu dans une maison austère de Naples. Nous rapportons ci-dessous la révélation (texte rapporté dans le livre du Père O’SULLIVAN) qui fut faite à la religieuse: sœur Marie-Louise, Supérieure générale de la Congrégation des Sœurs des Douleurs de Marie, décédée en 1875.

B) Sainte Philomène raconte sa vie

« Ma chère sœur, je suis la fille d’un prince qui gouvernait un petit État de la Grèce. Ma mère était aussi de sang royal. Comme ils étaient sans enfant et tous deux encore idolâtres, pour en obtenir, ils offraient continuellement des prières et des sacrifices à leurs faux dieux. Un docteur romain qui professait le christianisme, nommé Publius… vivait dans un palais au service de mon père.. Voyant l’affliction de mes parents,… sous l’impulsion de l’Esprit Saint, il leur parla de notre foi et les assura que leurs prières seraient entendues s’ils embrassaient la religion chrétienne… Finalement, après mûre réflexion, ils reçurent le sacrement de baptême.

Je suis née au début de l’année suivante, un 10 janvier, et à ma naissance, ils me donnèrent le nom de ‘Lumena’, ou ‘Lumière’, car j’étais née à la lumière de la Foi à laquelle mes parents étaient maintenant ardemment dévoués. Le jour de mon baptême, ils me nommèrent ‘Philomena’, c’est-à-dire ‘Fille de la lumière’. L’affection que mes parents me portaient était si grande qu’ils voulaient toujours m’avoir près d’eux. C’est pour cette raison qu’ils m’amenèrent à Rome avec eux à l’occasion d’un voyage que mon père devait faire en raison d’une guerre injuste dont il était menacé par l’arrogant Dioclétien. J’allais sur la fin de mes treize ans. Arrivés dans la capitale du monde, nous nous rendîmes au palais de l’empereur où on nous accorda une audience…

Tandis que mon père plaidait sa cause avec ardeur et cherchait à se justifier, l’Empereur ne me quittait pas des yeux et à la fin il déclara:

– Cesse de te tourmenter; tu peux être parfaitement rassuré; il n’y a plus de raison de s’inquiéter. Au lieu de vous attaquer, je mettrai toutes les forces de l’Empire à votre disposition à la condition que tu me donnes la main de ta fille, la jolie Philomène.

Mes parents accédèrent à sa requête et, de retour chez nous, ils cherchèrent à me convaincre que j’allais être heureuse comme Impératrice de Rome. Je rejetai leur offre sans aucune hésitation en leur disant que j’étais devenue l’épouse de Jésus-Christ par un vœu de chasteté prononcé lorsque j’avais onze ans. Mon père s’efforça alors de montrer qu’une enfant de mon âge ne pouvait pas disposer d’elle-même comme elle l’entendait et il exerça toute la force de son autorité pour me faire obéir.

Lorsque l’Empereur reçut ma réponse, il la considéra comme un simple prétexte pour briser la promesse qui lui avait été faite:

– Amène-moi la princesse Philomène, dit-il à mon père, je verrai si je peux la persuader.

Mon père vint vers moi mais, voyant que j’étais inébranlable, lui et ma mère se jetèrent à mes pieds en m’implorant.

– Mon enfant, aie pitié de ton père, de ta mère, de ton pays! Aie pitié de notre royaume!

– Non, non, ai-je répondu ; Dieu et ma virginité que je lui ai consacrée passent avant tout; avant vous, avant mon pays ! Mon royaume, c’est le Ciel.

Mes paroles les plongèrent dans le désespoir et il leur fallut m’emmener devant l’Empereur qui, de son côté, fit tout en son pouvoir pour me gagner. Mais ses promesses, ses séductions, ses menaces furent également vaines. Il fut alors saisi d’un violent accès de colère et, influencé par le démon de l’impureté, il me fit jeter dans les prisons de son palais où l’on me chargea de chaînes.

Croyant que la douleur et la honte affaibliraient le courage que mon divin Époux m’inspirait, il vint me voir chaque jour; puis, après avoir détaché mes chaînes pour me permettre de prendre la petite portion de pain et d’eau que je recevais comme nourriture, il renouvela ses attaques dont certaines, sans la grâce de Dieu, auraient été fatales à ma pureté. Les échecs qu’il continua de rencontrer furent pour moi le prélude à de nouvelles tortures, mais la prière me soutenait. Je ne cessais de me recommander à Jésus et à sa Mère très pure. Ma captivité durait depuis trente-sept jours lorsque, au milieu d’une lumière céleste, je vis Marie tenant son divin Fils dans ses bras.

– Ma fille, me dit-elle, encore trois jours de prison et, après quarante jours, tu sortiras de cet état de douleur.

Mon cœur battait de joie à l’annonce de cette nouvelle mais, comme la Reine des anges avait ajouté que je devrais quitter cette prison pour soutenir, dans des tourments effrayants, un combat bien plus terrible que les précédents, je passai immédiatement de la joie à l’angoisse la plus cruelle; je pensai qu’il me tuerait.

– Courage, mon enfant, me dit Marie, ne sais-tu pas l’amour de prédilection que je te porte? Le nom que tu as reçu au baptême en est l’assurance, par sa ressemblance avec celui de mon Fils et avec le mien. Tu es appelée Lumena ou Lumière. Mon Fils, ton Époux, est appelé Lumière, Étoile, Soleil. Et ne suis-je pas moi-même appelée Aurore, Étoile, Lune dans la plénitude de son éclat, et Soleil? Ne crains pas, je t’aiderai. C’est maintenant l’heure de la faiblesse humaine et de l’humiliation, mais au moment de l’épreuve, tu recevras grâce et force. En plus de ton ange gardien, tu auras aussi le mien, l’archange Gabriel, dont le nom signifie « La force du Seigneur ». Lorsque j’étais sur terre, il était mon protecteur. Je te recommanderai tout spécialement à ses soins, mon enfant bien-aimée.

Ces paroles de la Reine des vierges me redonnèrent courage et la vision disparut en laissant ma prison emplie d’un parfum céleste.

L’Empereur, désespérant de me faire accéder à ses désirs, eut alors recours à la torture pour me terrifier et m’amener à rompre mon vœu avec le Ciel. Il ordonna qu’on m’attache à un pilier pour être fouettée sans merci tandis qu’on me lançait d’horribles blasphèmes.

– Puisqu’elle est obstinée au point de préférer à un Empereur un malfaiteur condamné à mort par ses propres compatriotes, dit-il, elle mérite un châtiment approprié.

Le tyran, me voyant toujours aussi déterminée bien que je ne sois qu’une plaie béante, ordonna qu’on me ramène en prison pour y mourir dans les souffrances. Je souhaitais la mort pour m’envoler dans les bras de mon Époux lorsque deux anges brillants apparurent qui versèrent un baume céleste sur mes plaies et je fus guérie. Le lendemain matin, l’Empereur fut surpris en apprenant la nouvelle. Me voyant plus forte et plus belle que jamais, il entreprit de me convaincre que je devais cette faveur à Jupiter, qui me destinait au diadème impérial.

Sous l’inspiration du Saint-Esprit, je rejetai ce sophisme et résistai à ses caresses. Fou de rage, il ordonna qu’on m’attache au cou une ancre de fer et qu’on me précipite dans le Tibre. Mais Jésus, pour montrer Son pouvoir et confondre les faux dieux, envoya deux anges pour m’aider. Ils coupèrent la corde et l’ancre tomba dans la rivière où elle demeure enfoncée dans la boue. Ils me déposèrent ensuite sur la rive sans qu’une seule goutte d’eau ait mouillé mes vêtements.

Ce miracle convertit un grand nombre de spectateurs et Dioclétien, plus obstinément aveugle que Pharaon, déclara alors que je devais être une sorcière et ordonna qu’on me transperce de flèches. Mortellement blessée et sur le point de mourir, on me jeta à nouveau en prison. Au lieu de la mort qui aurait normalement dû survenir, le Tout-puissant me fit tomber dans un sommeil paisible dont je me réveillai plus belle qu’auparavant. Ce nouveau miracle mit l’Empereur dans une fureur telle qu’il donna l’ordre de répéter cette torture jusqu’à ce que mort s’en suive. Mais les flèches refusèrent de quitter les arcs. Dioclétien affirma que c’était le fait de la magie et, espérant que la sorcellerie serait impuissante contre le feu, il ordonna que les flèches soient rougies au feu dans un brasier. Cette précaution fut inutile. Mon divin Époux me sauva de la torture en retournant les flèches contre les archers, et six d’entre eux furent tués. Ce dernier miracle entraîna d’autres conversions et la foule commençait sérieusement à montrer des signes de mécontentement envers l’Empereur, et même de révérence pour la sainte Foi.

Par crainte de conséquences plus sérieuses, le tyran donna l’ordre de me couper la tête. Mon âme, glorieuse et triomphante monta vers le Ciel où je reçus la couronne de virginité que j’avais méritée par tant de victoires. Il était trois heures de l’après-midi, un dix août, qui était un vendredi.

Voilà pourquoi Notre-Seigneur a voulu que mon corps soit ramené à Mugnano un dix août, et pourquoi Il accomplit tant de miracles en cette occasion.« 

V) Les controverses

Curieusement, la multiplicité des miracles obtenus par l’intercession de sainte Philomène troublait certaines personnes qui se demandaient si tout ce que l’on racontait avait bien été identifié. Pourtant des archéologues éminents avaient donné leur avis lors de la “découverte” des reliques. Les Papes, avaient, les uns après les autres, manifesté leur dévotion envers sainte Philomène, ainsi que de nombreux serviteurs de Dieu renommés par leur sainteté, non seulement le curé d’Ars, mais aussi sainte Madeleine-Sophie BARAT, Mr Léon DUPONT, « le saint Homme de Tours« , Pierre-Julien EYMARD, saint Pierre CHANEL, etc… Pourtant des objections d’ordre historique ou archéologiques continuaient à s’élever…

Nous ne sommes pas tenus de croire aux révélations privées. Nous ne sommes donc pas tenus de croire à tout ce qu’on raconte sur sainte Philomène. Mais comment ne pas croire tant de témoins si éminents? Comment refuser de voir ce qu’on ne peut nier ? Comment refuser l’évidence ? Pourquoi nier ce que tant et tant de témoins avaient vu, et ce dont tant de malades avaient été les bénéficiaires: miracles physiques, ou psychologiques ou conversions…

Mais son Office propre avec Messe ont été décrétés le 11 janvier 1855 par le Pape Pie IX !

Pourtant, alors que les controverses faisaient déjà rage, au cours d’une audience à l’abbé Louis PETIT du 6 juin 1907, saint Pie X avait déclaré, parlant de Philomène :

« Ah ! Sainte Philomène ! Je suis bien attristé par ce que l’on écrit à son sujet. Est-ce possible de voir de telles choses ? Comment ne voient-ils pas que le grand arguments en faveur du culte de sainte Philomène c’est le Curé d’Ars ? Par elle, en son nom, au moyen de son intercession, il a obtenu d’innombrables grâces, de continuels prodiges. Sa dévotion envers elle était bien connue de tous, il la recommandait sans cesse. On lut ce nom Filumena sur sa tombe. Que ce soit son propre nom ou qu’elle en portât un autre [ndlr : saint Pie en énumère ici plusieurs] peu importe. Il reste, il est acquis que l’âme qui informait ces restes sacrés était une âme pure et sainte que l’Église a déclarée l’âme d’une vierge martyre. Cette âme a été si aimée de Dieu, si agréable à l’Esprit-Saint, qu’elle a obtenu les grâces les plus merveilleuses pour ceux qui eurent recours à son intercession… »

VI) Prières à Sainte Philomène

« Illustre vierge et martyre, bienheureuse Sainte Philomène, dont le nom et les miracles sont connus jusqu’aux extrémités du monde, soyez sensible à ma confiance en votre intercession, et au désir que j’ai de voir votre culte s’étendre dans tout l’univers. Glorieuse vierge et martyre, je me réjouis avec vous de la puissance que le Seigneur vous a donnée, pour la gloire de son nom et pour l’édification de son Église. J’aime à vous voir si pure, si généreuse, si fidèle à Jésus, si élevée dans la gloire.

Attiré par vos exemples à la pratique de la vertu, plein d’espoir à la vue des récompenses accordées à vos mérites, je veux fuir le péché, et accomplir tout ce que Dieu me commande. Aidez-moi, grande Sainte, à obtenir une pureté à jamais inviolable, une générosité qui ne se refuse pour l’amour de Dieu à aucun sacrifice, un dévouement sans bornes la foi catholique, et . . . (nommez la faveur spéciale que vous désirez). Ce Dieu si bon pour lequel vous avez donné votre sang et votre vie, ce Dieu qui m’a tant aimé, ne refusera rien à vos prières.

Ainsi soit-il. »

« Je vous salue, ô innocente Philomène qui, par l’amour de Jésus, avez conservé dans tout son éclat le lis de la virginité. Je vous salue, ô illustre Philomène, qui avez répandu si courageusement votre sang pour Jésus-Christ.

Je bénis le Seigneur pour toutes les grâces qu’Il vous a accordées pendant votre vie, et tout spécialement à l’heure de votre mort. Je Le loue et Le glorifie pour l’honneur et la puissance avec lesquels Il vous a couronnée, et je vous supplie d’obtenir pour moi auprès de Dieu les grâces que je demande par votre intercession.

Sainte Philomène, fille bien-aimée de Jésus et de Marie, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous. Ainsi soit-il. »

Prière quotidienne

« Ô sainte Philomène, vierge et martyre, priez pour nous, afin que par votre puissante intercession nous puissions obtenir cette pureté de cœur et d’esprit qui conduit à l’amour parfait de Dieu. Amen. »

Autres prières à sainte PhilomènePrières et dévotions à sainte Philomène

SOURCE : https://philosophieduchristianisme.wordpress.com/sainte-philomene-histoire-de-sa-redecouverte/

Statue of Saint Philomena. Kasberg ( Wegscheid/Lower Bavaria ). Village chapel ( 1858 ):

Statue der heiligen Philomena. Kasberg ( Wegscheid/Niederbayern ). Dorfkapelle ( 1858 ): 


Histoire de sainte Philomène telle que révélée à mère Marie Louise de Jésus

"Ma chère sœur", lui révéla la sainte, "je suis la fille d'un prince qui gouvernait un petit État de la Grèce. Ma mère était aussi de sang royal. Comme ils étaient sans enfants et tous deux encore idolâtres, pour en obtenir, ils offraient continuellement des prières et des sacrifices à leurs faux dieux. Un docteur romain, nommé Publius, qui est maintenant un saint au Paradis bien qu'il n'ait pas subi le martyre, vivait dans un palais au service de mon père. Il professait le christianisme. Voyant l'affliction de mes parents, ému par leur aveuglement et sous l'impulsion de l'Esprit Saint, il leur parla de notre foi et les assura que leurs prières seraient entendues s'ils embrassaient la religion chrétienne. La grâce qui accompagnait ses paroles toucha leur cœur et éclaira leur esprit. Finalement, après mûre réflexion, ils reçurent le sacrement de baptême.

"Je suis née au début de l'année suivante, un 10 janvier, et à ma naissance, ils me donnèrent le nom de 'Lumena', ou 'Lumière', car j'étais née à la lumière de la Foi à laquelle mes parents étaient maintenant ardemment dévoués. Le jour de mon baptême, ils me nommèrent 'Philomena', c'est-à-dire 'Amie de la lumière' qui illuminait mon âme par la grâce de ce sacrement. La Divine Providence a permis que l'épitaphe sur mon sarcophage soit expliquée en ce sens, bien que les interprètes aient ignoré que c'était exactement la pensée de ceux qui l'avaient écrite.

"L'affection que mes parents me portaient était si grande qu'ils voulaient toujours m'avoir près d'eux. C'est pour cette raison qu'ils m'amenèrent à Rome avec eux à l'occasion d'un voyage que mon père devait faire en raison d'une guerre injuste dont il était menacé par l'arrogant Dioclétien. J'allais sur la fin de mes treize ans. Arrivés dans la capitale du monde, nous nous rendîmes au palais de l'empereur où on nous accorda une audience.

"Quelle merveille que le destin! Qui aurait pu deviner le mien? Tandis que mon père plaidait sa cause avec ardeur et cherchait à se justifier, l'Empereur ne me quittait pas des yeux et à la fin il répliqua: 'Cesse de te tourmenter; tu peux être parfaitement rassuré; il n'y a plus de raison de s'inquiéter. Au lieu de vous attaquer, je mettrai toutes les forces de l'Empire à votre disposition à la condition que tu me donnes la main de ta fille, la jolie Philomène.'

"Mes parents accédèrent à sa requête et, de retour chez nous, ils cherchèrent à me convaincre que j'allais être heureuse comme Impératrice de Rome. Je rejetai leur offre sans aucune hésitation en leur disant que j'étais devenue l'épouse de Jésus-Christ par un vœu de chasteté prononcé lorsque j'avais onze ans. Mon père s'efforça alors de montrer qu'une enfant de mon âge ne pouvait pas disposer d'elle-même comme elle l'entendait et il exerça toute la force de son autorité pour me faire obéir.

"Lorsque l'Empereur reçut ma réponse, il la considéra comme un simple prétexte pour briser la promesse qui lui avait été faite. 'Amène-moi la princesse Philomène', dit-il à mon père, 'je verrai si je peux la persuader'.

"Mon père vint vers moi mais, voyant que j'étais inébranlable, lui et ma mère se jetèrent à mes pieds en m'implorant. 'Mon enfant, aie pitié de ton père, de ta mère, de ton pays! Aie pitié de notre royaume!' Non, non, ai-je répondu; Dieu et ma virginité que je lui ai consacrée passent avant tout; avant vous, avant mon pays! Mon royaume, c'est le Ciel.

"Mes paroles les plongèrent dans le désespoir et il leur fallut m'emmener devant l'Empereur qui, de son côté, fit tout en son pouvoir pour me gagner. Mais ses promesses, ses séductions, ses menaces furent également vaines. Il fut alors saisi d'un violent accès de colère et, influencé par le démon de l'impureté, il me fit jeter dans les prisons de son palais où l'on me chargea de chaînes.

"Croyant que la douleur et la honte affaibliraient le courage que mon divin Époux m'inspirait, il vint me voir chaque jour; puis, après avoir détaché mes chaînes pour me permettre de prendre la petite portion de pain et d'eau que je recevais comme nourriture, il renouvela ses attaques dont certaines, sans la grâce de Dieu, auraient été fatales à ma pureté.

"Les échecs qu'il continua de rencontrer furent pour moi le prélude à de nouvelles tortures, mais la prière me soutenait. Je ne cessais de me recommander à Jésus et à sa Mère très pure. Ma captivité durait depuis trente-sept jours lorsque, au milieu d'une lumière céleste, je vis Marie tenant son divin Fils dans ses bras. 'Ma fille', me dit-elle, 'encore trois jours de prison et, après quarante jours, tu sortiras de cet état de douleur.'

"Mon cœur battait de joie à l'annonce de cette nouvelle mais, comme la Reine des anges avait ajouté que je devrais quitter cette prison pour soutenir, dans des tourments effrayants, un combat bien plus terrible que les précédents, je passai immédiatement de la joie à l'angoisse la plus cruelle; je pensai qu'il me tuerait. 'Courage, mon enfant', me dit Marie, 'ne sais-tu pas l'amour de prédilection que je te porte? Le nom que tu as reçu au baptême en est l'assurance, par sa ressemblance avec celui de mon Fils et avec le mien. Tu es appelée Lumena ou Lumière. Mon Fils, ton Époux, est appelé Lumière, Étoile, Soleil. Et ne suis-je pas moi-même appelée Aurore, Étoile, Lune dans la plénitude de son éclat et Soleil? Ne crains pas, je t'aiderai. C'est maintenant l'heure de la faiblesse humaine et de l'humiliation, mais au moment de l'épreuve, tu recevras grâce et force. En plus de ton ange gardien, tu auras aussi le mien, l'archange Gabriel, dont le nom signifie 'La force du Seigneur'. Lorsque j'étais sur terre, il était mon protecteur Je te recommanderai tout spécialement à ses soins, mon enfant bien-aimée.' Ces paroles de la Reine des vierges me redonnèrent courage et la vision disparut en laissant ma prison emplie d'un parfum céleste.

"L'Empereur, désespérant de me faire accéder à ses désirs, eut alors recours à la torture pour me terrifier et m'amener à rompre mon vœu avec le Ciel. Il ordonna qu'on m'attache à un pilier pour être fouettée sans merci tandis qu'on me lançait d'horribles blasphèmes.

"'Puisqu'elle est obstinée au point de préférer à un Empereur un malfaiteur condamné à mort par ses propres compatriotes', dit-il, 'elle mérite un châtiment approprié'.

"Le tyran, me voyant toujours aussi déterminée bien que je ne sois qu'une plaie béante, ordonna qu'on me ramène en prison pour y mourir dans les souffrances. Je souhaitais la mort pour m'envoler dans les bras de mon Époux lorsque deux anges brillants apparurent qui versèrent un baume céleste sur mes plaies et je fus guérie. Le lendemain matin, l'Empereur fut surpris en apprenant la nouvelle. Me voyant plus forte et plus belle que jamais, il entreprit de me convaincre que je devais cette faveur à Jupiter, qui me destinait au diadème impérial.

"Sous l'inspiration du Saint-Esprit, je rejetai ce sophisme et résistai à ses caresses. Fou de rage, il ordonna qu'on m'attache au cou une ancre de fer et qu'on me précipite dans le Tibre. Mais Jésus, pour montrer Son pouvoir et confondre les faux dieux, envoya deux anges pour m'aider. Ils coupèrent la corde et l'ancre tomba dans la rivière où elle demeure enfoncée dans la boue. Ils me déposèrent ensuite sur la rive sans qu'une seule goutte d'eau ait mouillé mes vêtements.

"Ce miracle convertit un grand nombre de spectateurs et Dioclétien, plus obstinément aveugle que Pharaon, déclara alors que je devais être une sorcière et ordonna qu'on me transperce de flèches. Mortellement blessée et sur le point de mourir, on me jeta à nouveau en prison. Au lieu de la mort qui aurait normalement dû survenir, le Tout-puissant me fit tomber dans un sommeil paisible dont je me réveillai plus belle qu'auparavant. Ce nouveau miracle mit l'Empereur dans une fureur telle qu'il donna l'ordre de répéter cette torture jusqu'à ce que mort s'en suive. Mais les flèches refusèrent de quitter les arcs. Dioclétien affirma que c'était le fait de la magie et, espérant que la sorcellerie serait impuissante contre le feu, il ordonna que les flèches soient rougies au feu dans un brasier. Cette précaution fut inutile. Mon divin Époux me sauva de la torture en retournant les flèches contre les archers, et six d'entre eux furent tués. Ce dernier miracle entraîna d'autres conversions et la foule commençait sérieusement à montrer des signes de mécontentement envers l'Empereur, et même de révérence pour la sainte Foi.

"Par crainte de conséquences plus sérieuses, le tyran donna l'ordre de me couper la tête. Mon âme, glorieuse et triomphante monta vers le Ciel où je reçus la couronne de virginité que j'avais méritée par tant de victoires. Il était trois heures de l'après-midi, un 10 août, qui était un vendredi.

"Voilà pourquoi Notre-Seigneur a voulu que mon corps soit ramené à Mugnano un dix août, et pourquoi Il accomplit tant de miracles en cette occasion."

SOURCE : http://paxtecumfilumena.free.fr/vie.htm

Église Sainte Marguerite du Vésinet (YvelinesÎle-de-France)

Church Sainte Marguerite in Le Vésinet in the Departement Yvelines (Île-de-France)

Kirche Sainte Marguerite in Le Vésinet im Département Yvelines (Île-de-France), Darstellung: Philomena von Rom


L’extraordinaire histoire de la dévotion à sainte Philomène

Bret Thoman, OFS - Publié le 31/07/21

En 1802, des archéologues ont découvert la dépouille d’une vierge martyre du IVe siècle. Ils étaient loin de s’imaginer l’impact qu’allait avoir leur découverte.

Non loin de Naples, dans la commune de Mugnano del Cardinale se trouve un sanctuaire populaire. C’est là que se trouvent les reliques de sainte Philomène, vierge martyre réputée pour sa puissante intercession.

La tombe de Philomène

Il y a peu d’informations sur la vie de Philomène car c’est la seule sainte dont l’histoire a été révélée à travers un mélange d’archéologie et de révélations privées. En 1802, les chercheurs découvrent la dépouille d’une jeune fille ainsi qu’une fiole de sang séché.

Trois plaques de terre cuite sont fixées à la tombe sur lesquelles on peut lire : PAX TECUM FILUMENA, “Que la paix soit avec toi, Philomène”. Un lis, une flèche, une ancre et une palme sont également gravés dans la roche. Ces symboles représentant les vierges martyres des premiers siècles la lie aux saintes Agathe, Lucie, Agnès et Cécile.

L’étude et la documentation des os ne révèlent pourtant rien d’extraordinaire. On ne sait rien d’elle à part son nom et le fait qu’elle était vierge martyre du IVe siècle.
Lire aussi :
Les reliques, support de la foi des croyants

Miracles et phénomènes extraordinaires rapportés

Trois ans plus tard, un prêtre du village de Mugnano, le chanoine Francesco de Lucia, entend parler de la découverte à Rome. Touché par Philomène, il demande à faire transférer les reliques à l’église Notre-Dame-de-Grâce de Mugnano.

Très vite, les miracles se multiplient autour de sa tombe. La guérison de la vénérable Pauline de Jaricot, qui souffrait de problèmes cardiaques sévères, propage la renommée de la sainte martyre.

À la même époque, trois mystiques aux quatre coins du monde reçoivent des révélations sur la vie de Philomène. La plus connue est celle de sainte Luisa di Gésù en 1833. Sa vision révèle que l’empereur romain Dioclétien souhaitait épouser Philomène alors âgée de 13 ans. Après son refus, elle fut torturée puis tuée sans jamais renier sa foi.

Une dévotion populaire

En 1827, le pape Léon XII donne les trois plaques de terre cuite de la tombe à l’église de Mugnano del Cardinale, qui est aujourd’hui un sanctuaire. Dû aux nombreux miracles, le pape Grégoire XVI canonise Philomène en 1837. Ce type de canonisation basé uniquement sur l’intercession miraculeuse est unique en son genre.

Au fil des années, rois, reines, saints et beaucoup d’autres personnes d’importance viennent en pèlerinage à Mugnano. Même le bienheureux pape Pie IX célèbre la messe sur son autel le 11 novembre 1849.

Parmi les saints qui ont une dévotion particulière pour saint Philomène, se trouve le saint curé d’Ars. Ce dernier encourage ses paroissiens à l’invoquer et lui dédie une chapelle dans son église. Saint Jean Marie Vianney attribue les nombreuses guérisons qui lui sont reconnues à l’intercession de sainte Philomène.

Lire aussi :
La belle amitié entre Pauline Jaricot et le saint Curé d’Ars

Les pèlerinages continues

Aujourd’hui, la dévotion à sainte Philomène est plus répandue que jamais. Si sa fête a été retirée du calendrier liturgique en 1961, cela n’affecte pas cette dernière. Selon les témoignages, son intercession demeure puissante.

Au sanctuaire de sainte Philomène à Mugnano del Cardinale, les pèlerins peuvent voir les relique de la jeune martyre, les trois plaques, l’autel miraculeux et la statue miraculeuse qui sécrète de l’huile, et la chaise où était assise Pauline de Jaricot lorsqu’elle reçut sa guérison.

Sainte Philomène est la patronne des cas désespérés, femmes enceintes, enfants, bébés et jeune gens. Sa fête est le 11 août.
Lire aussi :
Les archéologues pensent avoir retrouvé le lieu de l’exécution de saint Jean Baptiste

SOURCE : https://fr.aleteia.org/2021/07/31/lextraordinaire-histoire-de-la-devotion-a-sainte-philomene/?utm_campaign=NL_fr&utm_content=NL_fr&utm_medium=mail&utm_source=daily_newsletter

Hl. Phliomena. Bamberg, Obere Pfarrkirche Unsere Liebe Frau (Obere Pfarre)


Saint Philomena

Also known as

Filomena

Filumena

Philumena

Philomene

Thaumaturga of the Nineteenth Century

Wonder Worker of the Nineteenth Century

Memorial

11 August

removed from the general calendar in 1961 by Pope John XXIII, but continued devotion was permitted

Profile

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, RomeItaly. 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 honour

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 1849Pius 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 strong and well-known devotion to her

Others with known devotion to her include

Saint Anthony Mary Claret

Saint Mary 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

Venerable Pauline Jaricot

Died

relics discovered on 24 May 1802

relics translated to Mugnano, Italy on 10 August 1805

Canonized

by Pope Gregory XVI

Patronage

against barrenness

against bodily ills

against infertility

against mental illness

against sickness

against sterility

babies

children

Children of Mary

desperate causes

forgotten causes

impossible causes

infants

lost causes

Living Rosary

newborns

orphans

poor people

priests

prisoners

sick people

students

test takers

toddlers

young people

youth

Prayers

Crown of Saint Philomena

Litany to Saint Philomena

Representation

anchor (an image of one was inscribed on her tomb)

arrows

crown

lily

Additional Information

Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate

Catholic Encyclopedia

Heaven’s Bright Queen: Apparition to Saint Philomena

Life and Miracles of Saint Philomena (also available in EPUB format)

Saint Philomena, The Wonder-Worker, by Father Paul O’Sullivan, OP (also available in EPub format)

The Little Wonder Worker of the 20th Century

books

Emblems of the Saints, by F C Husenbeth and Augustus Jessopp

Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints

other sites in english

Catholic Online

Catholic Tradition

Communio

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Novena

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Nothing is denied to Saint Philomena. – Mary, Mother of God, during an apparition to Mother Mary Louisa of Jesus

To 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. – Pope Saint Pius X1912

MLA Citation

“Saint Philomena“. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 April 2020. Web. 17 March 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-philomena/>

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/saint-philomena/

Cathédrale de Saint Joseph et de Sainte Philomena. Diocese of MysoreIndia.


SAINT PHILOMENA

The name of the glorious Virgin and Martyr, Saint Philomena, is not as well known as it should be. One reason is that many of the Saints' from the catacombs era were removed from the Liturgical calendar in the upheaval of Vatican II. Yet, devotion to St. Philomena is permanently sealed in Heaven by a number of Pontiffs, Saints, and by those who have given testimony to the great power this Wonder Worker has before the Throne of God. Turn to St. Philomena, lover of chastity and purity, with confidence, love and trust; she is always so kind to those who implore her intercession, she is the very Saint needed in today's hedonistic, slavishly sinful culture.

THE CATACOMBS

Who has not heard of the Catacombs of Rome-----those wonderful, hidden passages and corridors, the subterranean chambers dug out in the bowels of the earth and forming, as it were, a belt of underground fortresses around and in close vicinity of the Eternal City. After St. Peter's and a visit to the Holy Father, the Catacombs are the great sight of Rome. Here venerable Pontiffs, saintly Bishops, spotless Virgins, and fearless Martyrs, gathered in secret to celebrate the Divine Mysteries. Here they met in the evening and a few short hours later, they were being devoured by lions in the arena, and when the darkness of the night again overshadowed the earth, their mangled remains were borne back for the last benediction to the feet of Christ's Vicar on earth. then they were reverently enclosed in crypts hallowed out in the soft stone, where side by. the living dwelt with the dead-----those resting after their labors, and those awaiting their summons to the battleground.

The Catacombs are sunk deep in the earth, 30 to 50 feet below the surface-----and are reached by a steep stairway, They consist of long narrow passages opening out into chambers and shooting off into long branches in a maze of cross streets. In order to avoid detection by the Roman guards. the entrance was carefully concealed. If discovered the arrangement of the underground citadel afforded easy hiding.

The precise date of the first catacombs is not known. The pagans cremated their dead, a custom abhorrent to Christians. Like the Jews they preferred to bury their dead, in the custom of the time, in vaults cut out in the rock, as in the Sepulchre. But since. however, the persecution started in the reign of Nero [A.D. 54-68], and the Christians could not safely perform burial services in the presence of their heathen enemies above ground, it is clear that from a very early date the subterranean cemeteries began to be carved out.

The Catacombs are enormous: over 6 million Christians are buried in them, as a result of 300 years of 10 bloody persecutions. There are over 60 Catacombs alone around Rome, while others are scattered over different parts of Italy, france, Greece and Asia Minor. The catacombs were abandoned when Constantine gave lasting peace to the Catholic Church, and hiding places were no longer needed. But they are still venerated and remain places of pilgrimage, for they are the holy resting places of the heroes and heroines of the early Church. During the period of the Goths and the Lombard tribes, the vaults were raided of any stored treasure. Then later the relics of the Saints and Martyrs were transferred to the great basilicas and other Sanctuaries erected for them by the Roman Patricians and the Popes, where they would be more accessible to the veneration of the faithful.

THE FINDING OF THE BODY OF ST. PHILOMENA

It was on May 24, 1802 that excavators came on a loculus or chamber that had never been violated. Everything pointed to the fact that the chamber was exactly as it had been when the precious remains were enclosed there long centuries before. The discovery was looked upon from the first as something remarkable, and the opening of the sarcophagus was marked for Mary 25. On arriving at the spot, the learned custodian noted that the vault was walled up with 3 terra cotta slabs on which were the following symbols of martyrdom and bearing these descriptions:

LUMENA ----- PAX TE ----- CUM FI

It would seem that the slabs had been misplaced, as can happen in the haste of burial. The first slab should have been in third place and when this is done, the inscription becomes clear at once:

PAX TE CUM FI LUMENA
PEACE BE WITH YOU, PHILOMENA

This tomb is considered an excellent specimen of its kind and is rendered most valuable by the inscription on it of the very name of the Martyr whose remains were therein enclosed, a fact of rare occurrence.

1. The Anchor, resembling the Cross, an emblem of hope and is also a sign of martyrdom at times, as anchors were fastened to the necks of some priests and others as they were thrown into the sea, as Pope St. Clement the First was. Some hold that St. Philomena was cast into the Tiber.

2. Two Arrows, one pointing upwards, and the other downwards, betoking a type of death common to martyrs of the period.

3. The Lance, of similar significance.

4. The Palm, the emblem of the martyr's triumph.

5. The Lily, symbol of purity and chastity.

Upon opening the tomb, the relics of a Virgin were found, with a glass vase containing a portion of her blood in dried form. Tests performed on the vials found in the Catacombs have demonstrated that blood was in them. But in the case of St. Philomena, we have even greater certainty of its authenticity than any given by the scientific process. The wonders wrought daily in and by this precious relic, and witnessed by countless pilgrims., as well as by ecclesiastical experts, furnish us with supernatural proof of the relic's genuineness.

The bones, blood, and ashes of the Saint were carefully placed in a wooden case which was sealed in three places. This taken above ground and reopened for minute examination. The skull was found to have been fractured and the bones were those of a young girl about thirteen years of age.

Little is known historically of our Saint previous to her Martyrdom. Her history for us commences in May of 1802 after having rested in the obscurity of the Catacomb of St. Priscilla for 1,700 years:

After the relics of the saint had been exhumed, they were left at Rome until 1805. At that time Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, a small town near Naples, visited the Eternal City. He was filled with the ardent desire of procuring the relics of some martyred saint for his private chapel. Since the Bishop of Potenza, whom he had accompanied to Rome, supported his petition, Canon Francis de Lucia was allowed to visit the Treasury of Relics, a large hall where the exhumed remains of several saints were preserved. On pausing before the relics of Saint Philomena, he was suddenly filled with an unaccountable spiritual joy, and at once begged for them. It was with  some difficulty that the relics were finally consigned to him, since it was contrary to custom to bestow such treasures on a simple priest. Through the negotiations of a friend, the body of another saint was at first given to him, which he accepted with reluctance.

THE MARVELS OF MUGNANO  

In the meantime, Canon de Lucia became very ill. He prayed to Saint Philomena and was instantly cured. This renewed his attempts to procure her relics, and shortly after, the insurmountable difficulties to his possessing them were overcome, whereupon he had them taken to Naples. The travelers lodged in the house of a good friend in that city. There the relics were encased in a statue of the saint, especially made for the purpose, and this in turn was placed in a wooden casket. Soon many miracles took place. Lady Angela Rose, the mistress of the house, had suffered twelve years from an incurable disease; she begged the saint's intercession and was instantly healed. Others, too, obtained wonderful cures.

TRANSFER OF HER RELICS TO MUGNANO

On the 10th of August, 1805, the relics of the Saint were transferred to Mugnano, a hill town near Naples and the home of Canon de Lucia. Continuous miracles of every kind accompanied this transfer. The day before their arrival, at the prayers of the inhabitants, a plentiful rain refreshed the fields and meadows of Mugnano after a long season of drought. Lord Michael Ulpicella, a lawyer, who had not been able to leave his room for six  weeks, had himself carried to the relics and returned home completely cured.  A lady of rank had a cancerous ulcer on her hand which required an operation. A relic of the saint was brought to her. In the evening she placed it on the wound. The following morning, when the surgeon arrived to operate, he found to his surprise that the wound had disappeared. Saint Philomena's shrine at Mugnano became the scene of the most marvelous prodigies. Among these was the cure of Pauline Jaricot, which is known as the "Great Miracle of Mugnano." It was this cure which, after a long and mature deliberation, led to the formal approval of the cult of Saint Philomena by Pope Gregory XVI, who declared it a first class miracle. The Pope, in his decree decree, called the saint "The Thaumaturga [Wonder Worker] of the Nineteenth Century."  This title, as thousands attest, she deserves no less in our day, for her miracles are as numerous and as brilliant as ever.  

THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE

On the left-hand side of the Church in Mugnano and in front of the chapel where the blood of the Martyr is preserved lies the wax figure containing the bones of the Martyr. [One of the links on the previous page has a picture of this.] This rests is a magnificent urn, the front of which has a crystal plate, enabling the visitor to see the image distinctly. This figure is clothed in rich robes, and on one of the fingers of the right hand is a gold ring set with topaz, one of the many gifts personally sent by Pope St. Pius X to the Saint. The image, like the blood, undergoes extraordinary transformations-----the blood, for instance, changes into particles that look like a cross, presaging some sorrow, then the blood returns to is dried, ashen-like state.

The statue in which the bones of the young Martyr are encased was-----when it first came from the hands of the artist-----far from being a work of art. The first change noticeable in the statue took place almost immediately after the arrival of the Saint's relics in Mugnano on the 29th of September, 1805. The awkward pose was now graceful, the tone of the countenance, delicate and bright [where once it had been a morbid white by the artist's rendition], and the grimace around the mouth gave place to a pleasing smile. Now please note well, that the case had been sealed and the key kept in Naples, so this change appears spontaneous and not from human effort.

The next change was 20 years later: The first case was replaced by one more beautiful. The hair had become more luxuriant and the eyes opened several times during public devotions, and when the statue was put in the new case, which was a foot longer than the original, her feet moved to extend to fit the end of the case. Then in 1841, a new, striking prodigy occurred. The statue was so placed that only the profile could be seen by those standing in front. When the throng of people one day were looking at the Saint's image, it turned around so that fully three-fourths of it was then visible. In May of 1892, the statue again changed position in presence of an entire pilgrimage and the change was duly authenticated by ecclesiastical authorities. The other astonishing thing about this miraculous image is that from time to time there is sign from, like a sharp report against the glass of the case, which comes from time to time when some devotee of the Saint is praying there. It happened to Fr. Paul O' Sullivan, one of out sources for this presentation.

WHO WAS ST. PHILOMENA?

Despite many learned investigations, nothing has been discovered to throw light on the personal history of St. Philomena previous to the discovery of her relics in the Catacombs. Some of her ardent clients, however, emboldened by the sweet graciousness with which the dear Little Saint is accustomed to hear the prayers of her servants, besought her fervently to make known to them who she was and what she suffered for Jesus Christ. Their prayers were heard and the Saint has revealed to three of them, people living far apart and unknown to each other, the story of her life and martyrdom. These revelations, though of a private revelation, are nevertheless striking and carry with them no small weight of probability. The fact that they were made to three different persons and yet identical, is to say the least, a very extraordinary coincidence. Moreover, they tally with what is in keeping with the symbols that were found on her sarcophagus. These revelations have been widely published and the book containing them  given an Imprimatur by the Holy Office on December 21, 1833, to certify that nothing contained in it is harmful to the Faith or morals. We will only provide a small encapsulation of the revelations, as we prefer to encourage you to buy Fr. O' Sullivan's book from TAN BOOKSHERE for the book and the poster image

St. Philomena was the daughter of the king of a small Grecian state and her mother was also of royal lineage. They were pagans who worshipped false gods. They had no children and prayed to these idols for a child. There was staying with them at the time a doctor from Rome, Publius, who was a Catholic and now a Saint, was touched by their "blindness" and inspired by the Holy Ghost, decided to speak to them about their false worship and tell them of the one true Catholic Faith. He assured them that their prayers would be heard if they embraced Catholicity. His fervent eloquence reached them, and aided by grace, they were finally Baptized. St. Philomena was born the following year on January 10th, and was named Lumena, or "Light," as she had been born in the light of the Faith, to which her parents were not most devoted. When she herself was Baptized they added to her name, to make Philomena, that is "Friend or Lover of the Light."

Her parents lavished every affection on her and she accompanied them to Rome in her 13th year, to plead for peace from war with the Emperor. The Emperor, while listening to the pleas of her father, kept looking at Philomena; he agreed to terms of peace, but only if Philomena would he is wife. her parents agreed to the request, but Philomena rejected the offer as she had already made a vow to Jesus Christ two years prior, a permanent vow of chastity. Her father tried to change her mind, but seeing her resolution, implore her more to agree to the marriage. The Emperor also renewed his intentions and while they were in Rome, he daily came to see her. Finally in a fit of fury, he had her chained in a dungeon. All through this ordeal her Divine Spouse supported her, as well as His Blessed Mother. This torment lasted for 37 days, when the Queen of Heaven appeared to the Saint, surrounded by a dazzling light, bearing her Divine Son in her arms, telling Philomena that she would be in the dungeon for three more days, saying she would leave on the 40th day of her sorrow, only to undergo a most cruel torture for the love of Jesus Christ, her Son. The Holy Virgin inspired her with courage and told her that she was so beloved by them both, not the least of which reasons why was that she bore the name of them both, Light, as the Sun for Christ, and the Moon for Mary. Our Lady promised the Saint that at the time of her martyrdom she would the Archangel Gabriel himself by her side as her protector against weakness.

She was bound to a pillar, and like Christ before her, she was savagely scourged. Seeing that she was one gaping, agonizing wound, the Emperor had her brought back to the [prison to die. Two bright Angels appeared and poured Heavenly balm on her wounds and she was cured. The Emperor was astonished. Because she still refused his blandishments, he was enraged and gave orders than an iron anchor should be attached to her neck and that she be thrown into the Tiber to drown. But Christ, once more to confound the tyrant, sent two more Angels to cut the cord of the anchor which fell to the bottom of the river and became embedded in the mud. Then the Angels brought her back to the bank without a single drop of water touching her garments. Several bystanders were converted. But Diocletian became more obstinate than ever, declared her a witch and ordered her pierced with arrows. Again Heaven saved her from the death planned for her. On hearing of this new miracle, the Emperor was so infuriated that he ordered the torture to be repeated until death came, but the arrows refused to leave the bow. So he had the arrows heated with flames from a furnace; again it was to no avail, for these last archers were slain by Heaven. More conversions occurred and the people began to show serious signs of disaffection towards the Emperor and even reverence for the Holy Faith. She was beheaded at last and ascended to glory in Heaven. It was 3 PM in the afternoon, of a Friday.


FEAST DAYS

January 10th : Birthday of the Saint; 

Sunday after January 10th : Patronage day of the Saint; 

May 25th : Celebration of the finding of the Holy Body of the Saint; 

August 10th : Celebration of the Translation of the Holy Body and the Martyrdom of the Saint; 

August 11th : Liturgical Feast in honor of the Saint; 

August 13th : Celebration of the name of Saint Philomena; 

Second Sunday of August : Solemn festivities in honor of the Saint;

NOTE:
Her Feast day was originally August 10, which also happened to be St. Lawrence's Feast, so out of respect for him, the Church moved the day forward by one. Also note that although the Holy See has not officially canonized her, devotion to her as a Saint has been officially endorsed. See Philomena and the Popes later.

Those who honor the Saint on this Second Sunday of August can receive a Plenary Indulgence, if they confess their sins, receive Holy Communion, say prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father [The minimum of which are one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be]

ST. PHILOMENA AND ST. JOHN VIANNEY [THE CURE D'ARS]

On her return to France from Mugnano, Pauline Jaricot went to visit her dear friend, the venerable  Curè of Ars, to whom she recounted the whole history of her miraculous cure. The holy priest, while listening to her with rapt attention, felt a burning love for the Little Saint Philomena enkindle in his heart. Intense was his joy when Pauline offered him a part of the precious relics she had brought with her. A chapel was immediately erected in his church in honor the of the Virgin Martyr, where the relic was placed. The chapel soon became the scene of innumerable cures, conversions, and miracles. St. John Vianney dedicated himself by special vow to Saint Philomena and a marvelous intimacy became evident between the good priest and her whom he now considered his Celestial Patroness.

The little town of Ars, France, has become famous through the holy life and labors of Saint John Vianney, its beloved Curè. 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 Curè did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.

A person once approached the Curè and said: "Is it true, Monsieur le Curè, 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 Curè 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 Curè did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.

 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 Curè'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.

of the many marvels to be seen at Ars during the life of the saintly pastor, none was greater than the daily life of the holy man himself. His frail body was so extenuated with rigorous fasts and penances that his emaciated appearance struck his visitors to Ars with awe. Notwithstanding his extreme weakness, the incessant labors which he took on himself each day were enough to exhaust the most herculean strength, were he endowed with it. Day followed day and crowds thronged to Ars from all parts of France, from England, Ireland and other countries of Europe, The sick, the sorrowful, holy souls as well as the most abandoned sinners, flocked around him, besieging his confessional. One glance from him went straight to the heart of the most hardened reprobate.

At last it seemed that his life was nearly at end. In the beginning of May, 1843 multitudes had been to Ars and he succumbed to awful fatigue. In addition to the ordinary devotions, it was his wont in may to speak from the pulpit. On the third day this year he was forced to stop in the middle of his exhortation. With difficulty he descended the pulpit and laid himself on a couch in his humble room. On the fifth day he was gravely ill with a raging fever and the morning brought no improvement. The holy priest begged for Mass to be said at the little altar of his beloved St. Philomena. Before the Holy Sacrifice began, a strange fear seemed to come over him, some terrible anxiety. But when Mass commenced, the trouble vanished as he seemed to have a vision of something most pleasing. He softly spoke St. Philomena's name several times and then said "i am cured." His convalescence was rapid. Impatient of restraint, he had himself borne to the church where, falling on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament, he poured forth his soul in acts of burning love and adoration. Then rising up, he went to the altar of St. Philomena where he prayed for a long time, for she had indeed appeared to him revealing him secrets that were to fill him with joy until his dying day.

THE DEVOTIONS OF THE POPES TO ST. PHILOMENA

At the beginning of the 19th century, St. Philomena was utterly unknown in the Church and to the world. No mention of her name or Martyrdom had been handed down in tradition, nor do we find any trace in the historical records of the Martyrs. yet, before the century closed, her name resounded throughout Christendom Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, and many others of rank flocked among the crowds that came to Mugnano to pray for her intercession.

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:

". . . to 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]

Saint Philomena Prayer

Hail, O innocent Philomena, who, for love of Jesus, preserved the lily of thy virginity in all its brightness. Hail, O illustrious Philomena, who shed thy blood so courageously for Jesus Christ.

I bless the Lord for all the graces He granted thee during thy lifetime, and most especially at the hour of thy death. I praise Him and glorify Him for the honor and power with which He has crowned thee, and I beseech thee to obtain for me from God the graces I request through thy intercession.

Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Amen.

SOURCE : http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/philomena.htm

Sarlat-la Canéda ( Dordogne ). Saint-Sacerdos de Sarlat cathedral - Stained glass window dedicated to Saint Philomena of Rome (detail ): Martyrdom of the saint.


Sarlat-la Canéda ( Dordogne ). Saint-Sacerdos de Sarlat cathedral - Stained glass window dedicated to Saint Philomena of Rome (detail )


The Little Wonder-Worker of the Twentieth Century, Saint Philomena

For close on a hundred years the name of Saint 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 in the Catacomb of Saint Priscilla, outside the walls of Rome, in the year 1802, her name had found no place in sacred story.

Hence what can be authoritatively written regarding this wonder-working little saint of the nineteenth century is more a narrative of the extraordinary chain of miracles associated with her intercession than the recital of facts relating to her life. There is, however, a pious tradition that she was a child-martyr and a contemporary of Saint Sebastian, who suffered in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian about the year of our Lord 286. Some holy souls who were devoutly interested in promoting devotion to the saint, some years after the translation of her relics, are said to have been favoured with revelations, in which Philomena made known to them the circumstances under which she shed her blood for Christ. According to this evidence she was thirteen years of age at the time of her martyrdom, and her relics bear testimony that she could scarcely have been older. In these pages, however, we shall confine ourselves to the facts attendant on the discovery of her tomb and to subsequent wonders which have surrounded her memory with a blessed immortality.

The Catacombs of Rome have long, been centres of Christian interest and veneration. Until a century ago their origin was a subject of controversy and speculation among learned writers. Now their conflicting theories are set at rest. It is fully accepted by archeologists and historians that these subterranean passages were the secret hiding-places of the primitive Christians, and later on, became the resting-places of their dead. When, after the early persecutions, peace and liberty were restored to the Church, these cemeteries, which enclosed the remains of so many martyrs – and were sacred to the sufferings and trials of generations of the faithful – became places of devotion and of great resort. Each of them came to be associated with the names of eminent martyred saints, at whose tombs the Divine mysteries were frequently offered up. As time went on and the desire of obtaining relics of the saints spread throughout the universal Church, the tombs of the Catacombs, with permission of the Holy See, supplied these treasures so jealously regarded as the precious inheritance of the altars of Christendom. Yet the exercise of this privilege of procuring from the Catacombs memorials of the saints and martyrs left the tomb and relies of Saint Philomena unnoticed and undisturbed, until it pleased Almighty God to reveal this young virgin-martyr to the world as one of the heavenly wonder-workers of the nineteenth century.

The Catacomb of Saint Priscilla 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, 18O2, 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 assis-tants and bystanders the precious remains. Beside them stood the phial containing the blood of the saint. An examination of the relics having been made, it was ascertained that Philomena had been martyred in her tender youth, at about twelve or thirteen years of age, scarcely more. The relics were then fervently removed to the Custodia, and deposited among the relics of the other servants of God, to await the decision of the Vicar of Jesus Christ as to where they should finally rest as objects of the veneration of the faithful. The tiles bearing the simple inscription were for a time placed in the college of the Jesuits at Rome. Later on they were transferred to the Museum of Antiquities at the Vatican. However, in 1827, they were bestowed on the Church of Mugnano, which was destined, through the possession of the relics of our saint, to become one of the most honoured shrines in the Christian world.

During three years which followed, the relics of Saint Philomena lay in the Custodia, unnoticed and undisturbed, almost as they had lain for fifteen hundred years in the silence of the Catacombs.

In the summer of 1805 the Bishop-Elect of Potenza came to Rome to receive his consecration.

His companion was a saintly priest of Mugnano – Don Francesco di Lucia – who availed of his visit to the Eternal City to seek the possession of the body of a saint for his private chapel. Accordingly he asked permission to visit the treasury of sacred relics. Complying with his desire, the guardian, Mgr. Ponzetti, offered the holy priest his choice, to the great delight of the latter. None of the caskets bore the names of the saints whose bodies they enclosed, except three. Amongst these was that of Saint Philomena.

As the priest stood before this reliquary he felt his soul filled with an indescribable feeling of spiritual joy, and at once he petitioned to have the relics. A few days afterwards, however, the guardian of the Custodia retracted the permission he had given, stating reasonably that the saints of well-ascertained names were so few, that they ought to be reserved for Bishops and Catholic princes.

The Bishop of Potenza, however, intervened on behalf of his anxious companion, saying he felt convinced the saint wished her to go to his parish of Mugnano, and would bless the place with miracles. And so the request was at length granted. From that day commenced the long succession of wonders which have since made the name of Philomena illustrious over the world.

Don Francesco fell ill during his visit to Rome, and, sinking under a virulent attack of fever, made a vow to Saint Philomena that if his health were restored, he would choose her for his patron. Instantly the malady subsided, and he was restored to perfect health. On his telling the Bishop of the miracle both returned thanks to God, promising to carry the bones of the saint to Naples with all possible honour.

They set out shortly afterwards, end reached Naples on the 2nd of July, 1805. There the casket was deposited in the private chapel of Don Antonio Terres – a wealthy citizen of the place. The relics were opened by ecclesiastical authority, and the bones arranged in a lifelike-size figure in papier-mache, and enclosed in an outer case of ebony, which was duly sealed in four places. Donna Angela Terres, the wife of Don Antonio was deputed to dress and adorn the figure, and was rewarded by the Saint for her devotion by being immediately healed of a malignant malady, from which she had been suffering for twelve years. Marvellous, too, during the dressing, many changes were observed in the countenance of the figure, while the virginal remains exhaled a sweet perfume. During three days the body was exposed in the church of Saint Angelo. A great concourse of the faithful visited the shrine, but as no miracle took place it was believed to be an indication of the saint?s wish not to remain in that city. Again, the relics were brought from the church to the house of Terres, and here again miraculous cures began to be vouchsafed. Amongst them was that of a lady suffering from gangrene in the hand which her physician had decided on amputating. A small portion of the sacred relics which had been presented to the Terres family was applied to the suffering hand. That night the patient slept, and in the morning the surgeons found that the gangrene had disappeared.

In another case – a lawyer, who for six months had been bed-ridden from sciatica, had himself carried to the house where the body of Philomena lay, and while he prayed to the holy Martyr, was completely cured.

The Bishop of Potenza and Don Francesco now determined to proceed on their journey to Mugnano. The month of August was fixed for their departure from Maples, two carriers being summoned from Mugnano to convey the saint. The grief of Donna Angela on parting with the venerable remains was so great that she would scarcely allow them to be removed. Don Francesco, to console her, presented her with the key of the casket, saying, “I leave you this. Henceforward you and your family shall be the owners of the holy body. I will be only its guardian.”

As the procession moved on its way, its course was marked by many miracles. When night set in, a column of light descended and rested on the relics, illuminating the path by which the bearers passed as they drew near to Cimitile, a suburb of Nola. Here the burden grew so heavy that the bearers declared they could carry it no further. On hearing this, Don Francesco feared that the saint desired to remain at Cimitile, a place sacred to the martyrdom of many saints. He immediately despatched one of the carriers, who had come with him from Naples, to Mugnano to secure additional bearers, meanwhile urging on the others to move the case, at least a little further, on the way. With great difficulty they succeeded in transporting it; but as they receded from Cimitile their burden became lighter and lighter, and soon was so easily borne that the bearers began to cry out with joy, “a miracle! a miracle! The saint has once more become as light as she was at Naples!”

At Mugnano, on the eve of the arrival, the bells of all the churches were rung, and cannon were fired in honour 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!”

During 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.

The 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 to renounce 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.

On the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, September 26th, 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 Saint Philomena.


The story of the Shrine of Saint Philomena, and of the remarkable manifestations associated with it, possesses an unique interest among narratives of the kind. Much of it might, indeed, be difficult to accept without question, were not the authority in its support so strong.

The first in time, of the favours we shall record, is assigned to a date shortly after the translation of the relics of the saint to Mugnano.

While at Naples, as we may remember, the bones of the Virgin-Martyr were placed within a figure of childlike form, which was enclosed in an ebony casket. The casket being of small dimensions, the figure, though not larger than a child of about eight years of age, had to be placed in a cramped and ungraceful position.

One morning, however, shortly after the arrival of the saint within the chapel of Mugnano, to the amazement of some clients who had come to pay their homage at her shrine, the figure was found to have changed its attitude and whole appearance. Originally it had lain fiat within the case, the effect aimed at in its arrangement being that of the repose of death. Now the representation of the saint had mysteriously assumed a half sitting posture – full of majesty and grace – the face being turned towards the spectators. The hands too had changed their position, the arrow, the emblem of martyrdom, which had been placed in one of them, being reversed – in a word, the whole figure had become different. But the most striking marvel of the transformation was that the countenance no longer continued the same. The artist, by whom the figure had originally been designed, at Naples, had done his work hastily, and the features, imperfectly modelled, had been coloured to represent the pallor of a corpse. All these defects now disappeared, and an expression of great beauty took their place, while the colourless hue, which the face had hitherto presented, changed into a soft life-like complexion.

And all the while, the four seals which had been attached to the casket by the Bishop of Potenza were intact, and the glass which surrounded it could not have been removed. The rumour of this occurrence, having quickly spread abroad, soon reached Naples. On hearing of the marvellous event, the members of the Terres family, by whom the figure of Saint Philomena had been at first dressed, accompanied by the artist who had designed and painted it, together with some others, set out for Mugnano. It was beyond doubt that the key of the reliquary, which the Signora Terres, the custodian, held, had never left her possession, and yet, all attested that in no way was the attitude or appearance of the martyr like what it had been when the relics had left their home in Naples.

Further changes were subsequently, from time to time, observed in the position of the miraculous figure. Thus, some years after, when the garments in which the saint was clothed began to look worn and faded, another extraordinary circumstance occurred. The stitched seams loosened of themselves. The rich trimmings and accessories became detached, till at length, little by little, the whole vesture became disordered and scattered! The final and complete disarrangement of the exterior of the little figure took place about the Feast of Pentecost, 1824, when Don Francesco decided on having the relics arrayed in a new and costly attire, and also to provide a larger and more elegant shrine to receive them. Previous to the opening of the old reliquary, it was observed that the silken hair on the head of the saint had become sparse and scanty. As the date fixed for the translation of the relics was close at hand, no time remained to procure fresh silken hair. Then another wonder took place. An abundance of flowing tresses made their appearance before the beginning of the ceremony, which was carried out with great devotion and splendour by the Archbishop and his suite, in presence of the Vicar-General of the diocese, on July 5th, 1824.

Some time after the occurrence of this prodigy, this silken hair, which had been of a chestnut shade, suddenly turned to a deep black. At the same time the flowing tresses grew to such length, that it became necessary to open the case to re-arrange them over the shoulders. In 1833, nine years after the second dressing of the figure, the hair was found to have grown twenty-seven inches. Soon again a further development manifested itself. Another and larger shrine was deemed insufficient owing to the increased proportions of the wondrous figure of the occupant. A new receptacle was, therefore, again procured. On this occasion, Monsignor Cupola, Bishop of Vola, whose veneration for Saint Philomena bordered almost on enthusiasm, came to Mugnano, to place, as an offering, a rich crown of silver on her head. On this occasion a similar miracle again took place. On the 27th of September, 1828, Cardinal Ruffo Scilla, Archbishop of Naples, opened the shrine, and removed the relics to the beautiful and spacious case where they have since rested. From the appearance of a child of tender years, as our saint was first represented, she had now grown to bear the appearance of a beautiful maiden of twenty.

When the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, in fulfilment of a vow, came to Mugnano for a fifth time, he declared after he had celebrated Mass, in presence of the Shrine, that since he had sealed the reliquary, six months before, the holy form of the saint had changed anew its appearance.

Miraculous manifestations after that time became so frequent as to be regarded as a matter of course. Sometimes the countenance lost its habitual brightness of expression and became overcast and sad. The lips too of the saint were seen at times to move as if in prayer, in union with the supplications of her clients.

During the celebrations of the annual festival in 1847, among the vast congregation was a poor blind man who was fervently imploring the saint to procure for him the recovery of his sight. Suddenly the whole body was seen to move, turning on its side to face the congregation. This event was attested by numerous witnesses, and after careful inquiries solemnly published. This attestation concludes as follows: – “We can testify that similar changes are continually occurring – either the opening of the eyes, the movements of the lips, or, varied expressions of the countenance which sometimes appears pale and sad, sometimes pleased and bright. . . . He who will not believe what is stated, should himself repair to the sanctuary, where, he will see with his own eyes how God glorifies His saints.”

After so many extraordinary evidences of the miraculous power of Saint Philomena one can scarcely wonder at the astonishing rapidity with which devotion to her was spread throughout the whole world.

Nevertheless the solemn approbation of the Church was not bestowed upon the devotion to Saint. Philomena till long after the dates of the incidents we have been recording. That prudent circumspection which at all times rules the decisions of the Holy See, demanded a long and mature consideration of the novel and marvellous circumstances which made up the history of the miracles of the saint. Although the pastors and laity of almost every diocese in Italy had more than once petitioned the Holy Father to authorize the public veneration of Saint Philomena, she was not raised to the altars of the Church till the year 1837. The promulgation by the Supreme Pontiff of the decree so long sought for was mainly due to a miracle worked by the saint on Pauline Marie Jaricot, friend of the Cure d?Ars, and foundress of the Association for the Propagation of the Faith, and of the devotion of the “Living Rosary.”

About the year 1819, some Brothers of Saint John of God, who were seeking to revive their once famous order for the care of incurables, travelled through Brittany to the South of France, relating as they went along, the wonders they had witnessed at the shrine of Mugnano. At Lyons, the Brothers called on the Jaricot family, whose members were inspired with such enthusiasm at the recital of the miracles of the saint that they were filled with a great desire to possess a portion of her relics. The pious wish was eventually gratified, and among the blessings of which this family became the instrument in the hands of Providence, not the least remarkable was the promoting of devotion to Saint Philomena.

In the year 1834 Pauline Marie Jaricot was stricken, beyond all hopes of recovery, with an aggravated form of heart disease. Various other sufferings of a complicated nature increased the intensity of the malady, which, in addition to its dreadful uncertainty, furnished symptoms of a quickly approaching dissolution. During the whole year Pauline describes her condition as one of continued agony, save during some few moments of passing relief which she attributed to prayers offered for her by some devoted friends.

The first amelioration of her sad condition that she experienced occurred at the close of a Novena offered on her behalf to Saint Philomena. The complete prostration, which had deprived her of the use of her limbs, slightly subsided, and great was her joy at being able, unaided, to move even a little.

Day by day the improvement continued, and with the happy and wondrous change she became filled with a longing to visit, in thanksgiving, the shrine of the Sacred Heart at Paray-le-Monial.

Inspired with this thought, she redoubled her anxious pleadings to Saint Philomena. Having made known her wish to the members of her family, they in turn mentioned the matter to her physician, who, while admitting the slight improvement as inexplicable, looked upon her project as merely visionary. At length her entreaties overcame his reluctance, and he consented to her departure, prophesying, however, that she would never reach the first stage of the journey, and that the return would be a funeral. Her confidence in God, however, grew stronger as the time approached at which she had, determined to risk the perilous venture.

Contrary to the expectations of those who charitably accompanied her, Pauline reached Paray in safety. Her first visit to the chapel of the Monastery of the Visitation filled her with joy and holy consolation, and gave her a degree of vigour which astonished her companions.

Another and still greater surprise was theirs, when the poor invalid made known her decision to proceed from Paray to Rome, there to seek the blessing of the Vicar of Christ.

To make this journey had, indeed, been with her a life-long dream, but in the face of her excessive weakness, her friends were terrified at her determination. Filled with trust in God she carried her point against their fears. It was a tedious journey, accomplished in very easy and short stages, and so the little strength she had regained did not fail her. Visiting on the way the shrines of Chambery and Loreto, she reached the Eternal City, and was warmly received at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, the Trinita de Monte. The fame of the two great works she had inaugurated for the glory of the Church had preceded her, while the sight of her great sufferings won for her the sympathy of all.

Although Pauline had realized her wish to visit Rome, her prostrate condition still forbade her undergoing the fatiguing ceremonial of an audience with the Holy Father. But the paternal kindness of Gregory XVI., furnished a solution for this difficulty. Having heard of Pauline?s arrival, he deigned to thank her in person for the benefits the Church owed her, and he came on two occasions to visit her at Trinita de Monte. Like others, the Holy Father deemed her condition hopeless. In one of his visits he asked her to pray for him, when she should get into heaven. Pauline replied, “Yes, most certainly Holy Father, I promise to do so, but if I visit the shrine of Mugnano, and then return on foot to the Vatican, will your Holiness deign to proceed with the definite examination of the cause of Philomena.” “Yes, my child,” replied the Pope, “for that would indeed be a miracle of the first class.”

With unwavering courage the heroic girl proceeded from Rome to Mugnano, which she reached August 8th, 1835. Her diary, which lies before us, furnishes a thrilling illustration of the reward which God vouchsafes to grant to the faith of those who seek His mercies through the intercession of His saints. The celebration of the solemn festival of Saint Philomena had just commenced. Two days later, that is to say on the actual feast day, Pauline was carried to the church. At the moment of receiving Holy Communion, she experienced a fearful anguish in her whole frame. Her heart throbbed, as though it would burst. Overcome by the intensity of her suffering, she swooned away, and .a death-like pallor overspread her countenance. To all appearance life seemed extinct. The bystanders terrified at what they witnessed, were about to bear her away in the chair wherein she lay. Consciousness, however, soon returned, and the poor sufferer feebly signified her wish to remain. A few moments later the dimmed eyes, already glazed with the film of death, began to shed copious tears – colour returned to the pallid cheeks – Pauline Marie Jaricot was cured!

An outburst of jubilation followed the miracle. Unrestrained enthusiasm, within and outside the church prevailed. The air resounded with the cry “Viva Santa Filomena! Viva the holy French lady!”

Two months later full of health and strength, the restored client of Saint Philomena presented herself at the feet of Gregory XVI., in the great hall of the Vatican. Filled with surprise the Holy Father exclaimed: “Is this, indeed, my dear child? Has she risen from the tomb, or, has God shown in her the power of the Virgin Martyr?” “Yes,” replied Pauline, “I am the person whom your Holiness saw at the point of death two months ago, and since Saint Philomena has restored me to health, grant me permission to fulfil a vow which I have made, to erect a church in honour of my benefactress.”

Having received a detailed account of Pauline?s visit to the shrine of Mugnano and the circumstances of her wonderful cure, the Pope promised to proceed at once to the examination of the “cause” of the saint.

Within a year after the departure of Mademoiselle Jaricot from her house, she returned to Lyons where her restoration to perfect health was regarded as an undoubted miracle. When she repaired on foot to the church of Notre Dame de Fourvieres, pious crowds followed her and joined her in hymns of praise and thanksgiving at the shrine of our Blessed Lady.

Later on, the grateful child of Saint Philomena fulfilled her vow by building a beautiful chapel dedicated to her patroness on the slope that leads up to the Basilica of Notre Dame. No sacrifice or trouble was henceforth considered too great by Pauline in spreading devotion to the Holy Martyr. She promoted it, together with the other pious associations which, through her efforts, had already gained ground in the Church. In one of her letters she tells us – that, when in company with her – the representatives of the “Living Rosary,” prostrated themselves at the feet of Gregory XVI., supreme Pontiff imparted a special blessing to their association, and commended them and their work to the protection of Saint Philomena. And on the occasion of Pauline?s last presentation at the Vatican His Holiness renewed this commendation, saying: – “Pray to Saint Philomena – whatever you ask from her she will obtain for you.”

The miracles wrought at the chapel at Lyons became almost as numerous and remarkable as the favours vouchsafed at the Shrine of Mugnano, and, at the present day, the devotion of the citizens to the saint manifests itself with extraordinary fervour.

It was at Lyons that the cure of Mademoiselle Le Clerc took place. This pious lady had been a hopeless invalid for eight years, having totally lost the use of her limbs. Through the intercession of Saint Philomena she was miraculously restored. The miracle wrought in her behalf was attested by the Bishop of Belley, the Mayor of Ambrieux, and twenty-four physicians. Returning to her home at Roussillon she built a chapel in honour of the little wonder-working saint.

Between Pauline Jaricot and the Venerable Curé of d?Ars, a friendship of the holiest kind long existed She impressed this holy priest with such veneration for her favourite saint that he became an ardent promoter of devotion to Saint Philomena. To her advocacy he attributed many marvellous graces and favours, which are recorded in the story of his life. Having erected a shrine containing a portion of the saint?s relics in his church, cures of earthly ills and extraordinary conversions of obdurate hearts were witnessed in this holy spot. The oil that burned before the altar became a source of miraculous healing, while the innumerable ex voto tributes of gratitude that line the walls of the little sanctuary, bear witness to the veneration and love in which she is held at the present day. To the zeal and sanctity of the Curé of Are may be ascribed, in great measure, the rapid and universal spread of devotion to Saint 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 Saint Philomena, will be remembered by many readers of Monsieur Vianney?s life.

During the last thirty years, France has, so to speak, been covered, with votive churches to our saint, while the three festivals – the 10th of August, the 25th of May, and the Sunday within the octave of the Ascension – are preceded by novenas and observed with great devotion and solemnity. The limits of these pages prevent our noticing the myriads of graces and favours showered on the faithful of France by Saint Philomena.

Among the clients of the martyr, whose special holiness has distinguished them in the annals of this century may be named – Pére 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 Companions of Jesus and Mary; Pere Eymart, founder of the Priests of the Most Holy Sacrament.

In the year 1835, the devotion to the saint was introduced into Paris, where, ever since it has found an abiding centre. A parishioner of Saint Gervais, having obtained a miraculous favour through the intercession of Saint Philomena, presented to the church some relics which he had received from Mademoiselle Jaricot, together with a picture of the saint. Shortly afterwards a side chapel was dedicated to her honour, Saint Gervais is now a place of frequent pilgrimages, while the display of ex voto offerings and tablets rivals that of the mother-shrine at Mugnano. Those who have visited Paris will remember the position of the Church of Saint Gervais, close to the Hotel de Ville. This quarter of the city was the unhappy scene of the worst excesses of the Communists in 1870. The Hotel de Ville, as many of us recollect, was then reduced to ashes, while churches on every side were desecrated and profaned during those days of anarchy. Strange to say, although preparations had been made by the Communists to set fire to Saint Gervais and sack its treasury, by some mysterious intervention the im-pious purpose was never carried out. And while the Prussian shells wrought pitiless havoc over the whole city, the church of Saint Gervais and the house of the parish priest escaped injury. The priests attached to the church never forsook their posts, yet not one of them was arrested, nor did they suffer any loss in the midst of general ruin and pillage.

In recognition of this preservation, thirteen lamps commemorative of the thirteen childhood years of Saint Philomena, perpetually burn before her altar, and the oil in them is deemed to possess healing powers. An Association of prayer, under her invocation, in the Church of Saint Gervais has been raised to the dignity of an Arch-confraternity by our present Holy Father Leo XIII.

Let us now return to 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 Saint Philomena. A profusion of the finest marbles, mingled with agate and porphyry, cover the walls from floor to ceiling. Stately columns, supporting Corinthian capitols of white marble, impart an appearance of chaste splendour 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 Thèrese, 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 Saint 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.

The 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 roll of pilgrims contains many royal names, among which we notice: – Ferdinand II. of Naples, two queens of Naples and one of Sardinia, Marie Amelie of France, wife of Louis Phillippe; and Maria Christina, Queen of the two Sicilies. The latter was foundress of the Orphanage of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, which adjoins the sanctuary. She raised it in thanksgiving for petitions granted on the many occasions of her visits to the shrine. Hosts of distinguished personages, including Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops from all the world over, have inscribed their names on these records of piety and faith.

The decree authorizing the devotion to Saint Philomena, and granting to the clergy of Nola the privilege of saying Mass in her honour, was published by Gregory XVI. on January 30th, 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 honour 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.”

The successors of Gregory XVI in the Pontifical chair, have given evidences of a similar veneration for this martyr of the primitive Church.

Pius IX, when Archbishop of Spoleto, was prostrated by an illness, in which his life was despaired of. In his apartment was a figure of the saint, resting within an enclosed case. As he lay apparently awaiting death, a knocking seemed to proceed from the little shrine. From that moment the Archbishop began to recover, and soon he was perfectly restored to health. Afterwards, when he had been raised to the Pontificate, he made a pilgrimage in person to Mugnano. It was performed during the period of his exile, Nov. 7th, 1849. His reception was one of memorable splendour. At the church of Saint Philomena he was received by the King of Naples, who humbly knelt on the bare ground, when assisting him to alight. The Queen, with seven children, and many royal personages, knelt on the steps leading to the church door to receive the blessing of the Holy Father as he ascended. In memory of the event, Pius IX. granted many new spiritual favours to the Sanctuary of Mugnano. During his sojourn at Naples, he named Saint Philomena one of the patrons of the kingdom, and later on, in 1862, gave her as patron to “The Children of Mary,” and confirmed her title of „„Protector of the Living Rosary.”

The present Pope, while administrator of the diocese of Benevento, visited Mugnano twice, and since then, has sent a costly offering to the Church of Saint Philomena. Confraternities and Sodalities placed under her invocation have been many times favoured by Leo XIII. with increased indulgences.

In Ireland, the devotion to this child-saint and martyr has been taken up with great fervour, and rewarded with many striking favours.

The 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 Saint Philomena. Her 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 fervour and devotion towards Saint Philomena, which has spread like the odour of some delicate fragrant flower over pagan and far-off lands, has been borne thither by Irish hands and Irish hearts.

The Messager de Saint Philomene et du Venerable Cure d?Ars, published in Paris (monthly) contains interesting records of the miracles worked, and favours granted by the “Virgin Wonder-worker” in every portion of the globe. We should recommend its perusal to our educated readers, especially to the clients of Saint Philomena.

Were space at our disposal, we should gladly place some extracts from it on record here. However, before we close this sketch, we select one which has struck us by its simple beauty, and tells how our saint hearkens to the prayers of the little ones of Christ.

In a province of France there lived a child named Marie Philomene, who, from her earliest years had been taught to invoke her holy patron, by whom more than once she was delivered from danger. In May, 1883, when but five years old, she was attacked by a fatal illness. The physician declared her case quite hopeless, and one evening informed the afflicted parents of the little sufferer that it was useless for him to return, inasmuch as all the symptoms of death had already set in.

Her godmother, who was kneeling by her little cot, bethought of invoking Saint Philomena, and made the child kiss a picture representing her.

She could no longer see nor lift her hands, but could still hear. Suddenly with a trembling voice she exclaimed, “Godmother, where is Saint Philomena? what shall I say to her?” “Ask her to come to you,” was the reply. “Tell her you will give yourself to God, and teach little children. Ask her to send you some sleep, and promise to go to Mass tomorrow to thank her.”

A few moments later the child said she would like to go to sleep, and then fell into a gentle slumber. At 6 o?clock the following morning, she sat up in bed, saying “St Philomena has cured me! I want to go to Mass!” Arising, she dressed herself, and walked to church, a mile distant, holding her godmother?s hand.

Our story of the great wonders wrought by the intercession of Philomena may not for the present extend farther. May our efforts to retrace some of the glories which surround the name of the youthful Martyr of the Catacombs increase the fervour 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 favour with God, and merited so many benedictions for those who invoke her! Saint Philomena! Pray for us.

– this text has the Nihil Obstat of Joannes Keane, S.J., Cens. Theol.Deput.; and the Imprimi Potest of +Edward Joseph Byrne, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, 2 January 1929

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/the-little-wonder-worker-of-the-twentieth-century-saint-philomena/

Jules Jolivet. Couronnement de sainte Philomène,  Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption de Montauban


THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF SAINT PHILOMENA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR


WHOSE SACRED BODY WAS LATELY DISCOVERED IN THE CATACOMBS AT ROME, AND FROM THENCE TRANSFERRED TO MUGNANO, IN THE KINGDOM OF NAPLES.

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.

"Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will send spirit into you, and you shall live." Ezech. xxxvii. 4, 5.

NEW YORK: P. O'SHEA, PUBLISHER,
104 BLEECKER STEEET. 1863.

Edited and prepared by saintsbooks.net

APPROBATION.

The present work being extracted from larger works, printed in Italy with the approbation of the ecclesiastical authority, and having been examined by theologians worthy of our confidence, we permit the printing and circulation of it in our diocese, referring, however, on this matter, to the declarations of the author, and especially to the decree of Urban VIII. We believe, moreover, after the example of many of our colleagues in the episcopacy, that we second the designs of Divine Providence, by recommending to the faithful of our diocess the devotion to the blessed Thaumaturga, Philomena, virgin and martyr, persuaded that it will produce, as it has done elsewhere, the most abundant fruits of sanctification.

Given at Friburg, in our Episcopal House, the 14th of July, 1834.

+ PETER TOBIAS,
Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva.

J. X. FONTANA,
Chancellor of the Bishopric.

INTRODUCTION.

The name of the glorious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, is not as well known to the youth of our country as it should be. From the beginning of the present century, this saint has been singularly honored in Italy as the patroness of youth, and the fruits of this devotion have been truly miraculous.

The present reprint is from an authorized Dublin edition; we had hoped to have the holy privilege of translating the life of this youthful saint, but we found others had anticipated us in the pious undertaking.

The extraordinary devotion of one of the most celebrated personages of modern times -- the Cure d'Ars -- to this saint, lends a new and holy charm to her name, while its amazing fruits show how powerful she is with God. His biographer tells us that the cure's devotion to this holy virgin and martyr, whom he was accustomed to call his "dear little saint" was almost chivalrous. There was the most touching sympathy between them. "She granted every thing to his prayers; he refused nothing to her love. He set down to her account all the graces and wonders which contributed to the celebrity of the pilgrimage of Ars. It was all her work; he had nothing whatever to do with it." Speaking of this devotion of the cure. Dr. Manning, the present Archbishop of Westminster, says: "Mysterious and wonderful is the sympathy which thrills through the communion of saints, unbroken by distance, undimmed by time, unchilled by death! 'The youthful saint' went forth from her mother's arms to die for Christ ; the lictor's ax cropped the budding lily, and pious hands gathered up and laid it in the tomb; and so fifteen centuries went by, and none on earth thought upon the virgin martyr who was following the Lamb whithersoever He went, till the time came when the Lord would have her glory to appear; and then He chose a champion for her in the lonely, toilworn priest, to whom He had given a heart as child-like, and a love as heroic as her own; and He gave her to be the helpmate of his labors, and bade her stand by him to shelter his humility behind the brightness of her glory, lest he should be affrighted at the knowledge of his own power with God."

We trust this little volume will serve to enkindle a tender devotion to the saint in many a young heart. At the early age of thirteen years, this true heroine trampled all the vanities of the world under her feet, and chose to endure multiplied torments rather than renounce her vow to her crucified Saviour. What a model of constancy and of every virtue does she present to us! Let the youthful heart go to her when tried, and with un- bounded confidence implore her intercession!

Mount St. Vincent,
Feast of St. Philomena,
August 10th, 1865.

TO THE READER.

This work has been composed at the instance of a venerable prelate. The greater, part of what it contains has been extracted from two works, written in Italian, on the great saint, of whom it is a panegyric. These two works were submitted to the ecclesiastical anthority before publication; and that one, of which I have principally made use, bears upon it the permission to publish, of the holy office, under date of December 12, 1833. The other, of which the first is but an abridgment, contains this passage: "The name of St. Philomena is sounded everywhere with glory; devotion to her wins the hearts of all. Bishops, archbishops, princes of the Church, * the old, the young, all, even disbelievers, and the very impious, whose eyes are opened by the works of Thaumaturga, are anxious to render her homage.

* There might be added, the Sovereign Pontiffs themselves, Leo XII. having proclaimed her the great Saint; and Gregory XVI. has recently blessed one of her images, destined to receive public devotion, in the capital of Christendom.

I have heard bishops exclaim, 'Blessed be God, who vivifies us through St. Philomena.'" Since her devotion has been publicly established in the dioceses, there are seen persons who did not believe in the creation, seeking with humility an image of the saint, and as soon as they have obtained it, their faith rejoices, as if they possessed a treasure. What mercy God displays in this amiable saint! But as Philomena has acquired this celebrity, merely from the recital of her miracles, communicated orally, or by writing, should we not see, in this very celebrity, a living proof of the truth of these wonders? The graces of every kind with which this proof is accompanied, form a second testimony, which it is hard to resist. And if we add, that the theater of these wonders is Italy; that there, in presence of the pillar and seat of truth, the orators publish the prodigies of the saint, and the books whence they draw their information are printed and reprinted, and that the editions are quickly exhausted; shall we not, therefore, draw a conclusion decidedly in favor of what the former preach, and of what the latter contain?

I shall not, however, here omit to declare, as I am bound to do, and in accordance with the decree of Urban VIII., that I do hope pretend to give any of the facts contained in this book more authority than the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church gives or will give to them, whose decision is, and shall always be, in every thing the rule of my judgments.

I. F. B. D. L., C. D. I.

FRIBURG, 23d of June, 1834.

THE LIFE AND MIRACLES OF SAINT PHILOMENA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

INTRODUCTION.

"Qui habet aurem, audiat quid Spiritus dicat Ecclesiis." -- (Apoc. ii. 7.) "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

The different churches or dioceses of which the Christian world is composed, form but one and the same church: Jesus Christ, our Lord, is the chief; and the Pope, his visible representative on earth, the common father of all the faithful, governs it in his name and by his authority. No one is ignorant of how this church has been formed. Before ascending into heaven, to be seated at the right hand of his Father, our Lord Jesus Christ promised his apostles to send them his Spirit, the spirit of truth, which was to instruct them; the spirit of fortitude, which was to animate them; the spirit of zeal, which was to convey them from one end of the world to the other, in order to proclaim everywhere the divinity of Jesus Christ, "and to call from the bosom of darkness to the admirable light of the gospel, this elected race, this royal priesthood, this holy nation, this people acquired," for his Heavenly Father and his angels, "by a crucified God." -- (1 Pet. ii. 9.)

The day of Pentecost arrives -- suddenly, towards the third hour, a great noise is heard, like the blast of an impetuous wind; it fills the coenaculum, * where the apostles were in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus; and at the same instant there appear, like so many stars, upon the head of each of them, tongues of fire, the striking symbol of what the spirit of Jesus Christ wrought in them.

Changed all at once into other men, and become generous combatants for the faith, they enter the lists, and commence that warfare which has subjected the whole earth to the empire of the Saviour, and which will terminate but with the end of the world.

* Coenaculum means literally a room appropriated to eating, and is particularly used to denote the apartment in which the disciples were assembled at the time the Holy Ghost descended upon them, and that in which the last supper was celebrated. -- Transl.

"Today," cries the prince of the apostles, is accomplished what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass, in the last days (saith the Lord), I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants, indeed, and upon my handmaids, I will pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor, and smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." -- (Acts ii. 16, &c.) What Joel had announced, what Peter publishes in the middle of Jerusalem, in presence of an immense multitude, "composed of all the nations which are under heaven " (ibid.), the history of all the ages of Christianity, even to our own days, attests the wonderful accomplishment of; so that the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church can, at the present time, show to the whole world, as a living title to its veneration, prodigies of every kind, wrought in every place, by her children; Domino cooperante, et sermonem confirmante sequentibus signis; "The Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed." -- (Marc. xvi. 20.)

The life-giving Spirit, which has not ceased, and will never cease to animate it, gives to some, as St. Paul says, the gift of wisdom; to others, the gift of knowledge; to one, the grace of restoring health to the sick; to another, prophetic knowledge, that teaches him to know the future; to others, the power of working all manner of prodigies. -- (1 Cor. xii.) And the end for which this divine Spirit communicates his omnipotence to the church is, St. Thomas tells us, "that all men may come to the knowledge of God." *

Here I would be tempted to cry out with the Royal Prophet, "Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst think of him," when thou wishest to display thy glory? What then is the son of man, that, not satisfied with visiting him, thou shouldst establish him the depository of thy divine power, and, as it were, the Lord of his adorable Master?

* Beneficium commune, quod exhibetur in omnibus miraculis, ut scilicet homines adducantur ad Dei notitiam. (2. 2. qu. 178, art. 1 ad 4.)

For, in miracles, although the creature be not the instrument, he commands, nevertheless, and God obeys; * he wills, sometimes even he manifests only a desire, and God executes his will, realizes his wishes; thus St. Thomas expresses it, Deo ad nutem hominis operante.

But why should we wonder at favors like these, with which God has been pleased to honor his church, since, after all, they are the less precious of his gifts? "The greatest miracles," says St Gregory, "are those of the spiritual order; those which work not the resurrection of bodies, but the resurrection of souls." ** "And if God," adds St. Augustin, "has placed in reserve, in the treasures of his mercy, some of these extraordinary effects of his power, which shake man in his lethargy, and draw from him a tribute of admiration for his Creator, it is not because he desires him to regard them as greater than those of which he is every day witness, but in order to awaken, by what is rare and unusual in them, the value which the former, by their daily occurrence, had lost, in the minds of men." ***

* Obediente Deo voci hominis. (Jos. x.)

** Miracula tanto majora sunt, quanto spiritualia; tanto majora sunt, quanto per haec non corpora, sed anime suscitantur. (Hom, xxix.)

*** Ut non majora, sed insolita vivendo stuperent, qui hos quotidiana vilucrant, &c., &c. (Tract, xxiv. in Joan.)

Thus, though I should see a man, clothed with the divine power as with a garment, work in heaven and on earth the greatest wonders; though I should be witness of numberless cures, of resurrections as evident as multiplied, of the prompt and continual obedience which the elements, the tempests, all nature would render to the voice of this new Thaumaturgus, my heart, undoubtedly, humbling itself before God, the principal author of these prodigies, would render glory to his name, and would confess the greatness of his power; but it would remember also what St. Paul said, "That there are graces still more estimable, because they are better and of a superior order;" * "and a look of faith upon the crucifix, and upon the tabernacle where our divine Saviour resides, would be sufficient to set limit to my admiration, and make me reserve it for the infinite grandeur of these truly divine wonders.

I say this, both to answer those who deny miracles, because they believe them impossible, and to inspire a just admiration in many others, who, over desirous of hearing or of seeing these really admirable works of the Most High, become so fond of them, that every thing else, no matter how sublime or divine it may be, appears to them of little value in comparison.

* Aemulamini charismata meliora. Et adhuc excellentiorem viam vobis demonstrabo. (1 Cor. xii. 31.)

Far be it from us to entertain these two errors, equally injurious to the goodness of God. You believe that he has loved the world to such an excess, that he has given for it his only Son; you believe that this only Son, the Word of God, God as his Father, has made himself one of us, that is to say, flesh, passible and mortal; you believe that he died on an infamous gibbet for the salvation of men, and that, in order to communicate to them the merits of his death, he is present and lives in the sacrament of his church; you believe -- shall I say? unhesitatingly -- these profound mysteries, which may be called the miracles of miracles; and those wonders which the power of God -- those works which your senses themselves attest to you -- could you doubt of their possibility? Leave these doubts to the impious; and when the Lord shows to you, by his angels and saints, the ordinary ministers of his power upon earth, that his hand is not withdrawn, and that he is always the God, to whom it alone belongs to do wonders, reply to all the objections that the enemy of his glory may suggest to you, these first words of the symbol of faith, Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem.

As for the other error, it will be sufficient for banishing it, to read the words of the angelical doctor. "The working of miracles," he says, "has for its end, to confirm in faith." * How, then, could it diminish the value of faith? You ought, on the contrary, as St. Augustin says, "to aid yourself by these visible works, in order to raise up your mind to the admiration of an invisible God," such as faith shows him to us in his mysteries and in his sacraments. **

This is not yet sufficient, adds the same doctor. "Interrogate the miracles themselves, to know from them what they wish to tell you of Jesus Christ; for if you could comprehend them, they have also their language." ***

Do you now, then, believe that they tell any thing else, except that you should ascend still higher, and that the admiration you feel should give place to the delight with which the supereminent and infinite love of Jesus Christ ought to inspire you, in the most inestimable gifts with which he is pleased to adorn his only and well-beloved sponse, the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church?

* Operatio miraculorum ordinatur ad fidei confirmationem. (2. 2. loe. cit. ad 5.)

** Hoc admotum sensibus, ut erigeretur mens; ut invisibilem Deum per visibilia opera miraremur, erecti ad fidem. (Tract, iv. in Joan.)

*** Interrogamus ipsa miracula, qui nobis loquantur de Christo; habent enim si intelligantur linguam suam. (Tract iv. in Joan.)

After these different considerations, which I have thought it necessary to place before those who may read this little work, I approach the subject of which I have proposed to treat. The object is, as the title announces, to proclaim a Thaumaturga, * whose wonderful works have made her name celebrated throughout the world. The abbreviation of the work written on this saint by Don Francis de Lucia, from which we borrow the materials for this notice, says: "The greatest miracle, undoubtedly, of all which the Lord has wrought in favor of the holy martyr, is the astonishing rapidity with which her veneration has been propagated. Like the light, that in a few instants bounds over the measureless space between heaven and earth, the name of St. Philomena, particularly since the miraculous (and well-proved) sweat which was seen, in 1823, upon one of her statues, erected in the church of Mugnano, has reached in a few years to the ends of the world. The books that speak of her miracles, the images representing her, have been carried by zealous missionaries into China, into Japan, and to several Catholic establishments in America and in Asia. In Europe, devotion towards her is extending, not only in the country and in the villages, but also in the most celebrated and populous cities.

* The name which, is given to the saints that God renders celebrated by a great number of miracles.

The great and the humble, the shepherds and their flocks, unite in doing her honor. At their head are seen cardinals, archbishops, bishops, heads of religious orders, and ecclesiastics, deserving consideration by their dignities, their learning and virtues. From the Christian pulpit the most eloquent orators publish her glory; and all the faithful who know her, in the kingdom of Naples particularly, and in the neighboring countries, where there are millions of them, give to her with common accord the name of Thaumaturga. "This," continues the same author, "which we see, we touch, as it were, with the hand, and which might be called the most wonderful of the miracles, makes us hope that one day, which day is perhaps not far distant, the glorious name of St. Philomena will hold a distinguished place in the Roman Martyrology, and the universal church will render to her a solemn devotion."

The hope of the author appears to be well founded. Already, in 1827, the keeper of the holy relics, Monsignor Filippo Ludovici, presented to his holiness Pope Leo XII. a copy of the second edition of the work of Don Francis de Lucia. In consequence of what the celebrated missionary, Don Sauveur Pascali, who was present, said, the Vicar of Jesns Christ, after running rapidly over the work, and having asked many questions of Monsignor Ludovici concerning the miracles wrought through the holy martyr, appeared impressed with a high admiration for her; and, at the same time, praising God for the power which he had given her, he blessed, in the most affectionate terms, the persons who, under the protection of this great saint (these are his words), consecrated themselves, though in the midst of the world, to the practice of perfection.

From that time, the number of the devout towards St. Philomena is daily multiplied in the very centre of Catholicity. I have myself witnessed, in 1832, and have seen, with my own eyes, in the pomp displayed in the fetes * which are celebrated in her honor, persons who had received from her the most signal favors. The following are extracts from two letters written from the same city by a trustworthy person, the one dated April 4, and the other May 20, 1834: --

* The word fete, taken in its original sense, having be come, from its usefulness, nearly naturalized in our language, the translator, taking advantage of this circumstance, accordingly gives to it the meaning it hears in French, viz., as denoting, together with the English word feast, the public rejoicings that take place on particular and extraordinary occasions, and which generally distinguish, on the continent, the solemn feasts of the church, and the annual return of the festivals of Patron Saints. -- Transl.

"Our St, Philomena does not cease to perform prodigies at Rome, at Ancona, at Ferrara, at Naples, and at Florence, In the last named city, the Rev. P. F., who was preaching the lent to the court of the Grand Duke, made the panegyric of the young Thaumaturga. Her devotion is extending visibly. At Caravita we have a superb picture of the saint; and we shall soon have her chapel. Every day they make of her new engravings."

"The good St. Philomena continues to obtain all sorts of favors for those who are devout towards her. To describe here the cures and other miraculous favors obtained by her intercession, would be to compose some volumes. At Rome are seen, exposed in several churches, her picture and her relics. The people go in crowds to pay them veneration; they make prayers of nine days, three days, &c. Encourage and propagate devotion to the young Thaumaturga: you will receive from it, both for yourself and for others, peculiar graces and favors."

I ought also to add as I have heard myself in Italy, that a great number of bishops, both in the kingdom of Naples and the Papal States, have ordered in their dioceses that a public devotion should be rendered to the saint, and their clergy say the mass of her and recite the office. "It is," says the above-cited author, "a debt of gratitude which they have contracted, and which they have desired to discharge, for the benefits which the saint has bestowed abundantly on their flocks."

May this work, then, which I cast, like the last farthing of the widow, into the treasury of the glorious martyr, draw upon me a look of her benevolence, and contribute to the propagation of her devotion, as well as to the manifestation of her power, in the places where her name and her glory are yet unknown.

Statue of Saint Philomena and small votive plaques t the Saint Saint Joseph altar, in the Minorite Church (or Saint Anthony of Padua church) interior. Built in 1767 by plans of Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer. - Dobó Square, EgerHeves CountyHungary.

Szent Filoména a Szent József oltáron a hajó jobb oldalán. Az oltárkép két oldalán a grisaille keret részeként Szent Rókus és Szent Vendel alakja áll. A félkörívben záródó oltárképen Szent József nevelt fiát, Jézust láthatjuk a halálos ágyánál. Az előtérben egy gyermekangyal áll szekercével, az ágy lábánál nőalak ékszerekkel. A záró félkörívben angyal lebeg. Páduai Szent Antal-templom belseje. Műemlék. Azonosító: 5479. - Heves megyeEger, Belváros, Dobó tér 4.


CHAPTER I.

DISCOVERY OF THE BODY OF ST. PHILOMENA.

The Psalmist says: "God is wonderful in His saints. The God of Israel is He who will give power and strength to His people." Blessed be God.

During nearly fifteen centuries, these sacred relics had lain buried and concealed from the world, when all at once they appear, crowned with honor and glory. Whence therefore is this prodigy? who can have wrought it, but He who dictated these words to His prophet : -- In memoria aeterna erit Justus (Ps. cxi.) : "The just will be in everlasting remembrance."

The just, therefore, only deserve to be called wise; since they build not the edifice of their virtues upon the quicksands of the world, but upon the imperishable rock, upon "the mountain of God;" Fundamenta ejus in montibus sanctis. (Ps. cxi.) Oh! that the insensate inhabitants of the earth could comprehend and appreciate this language. But, be it as it may, such is the lesson that God has been pleased to give them: if their folly prevents their profiting by it, it will not, for all that, be the less truly useful for those who already walk in the straight way; and, in seeing what the Lord has done to exalt his humble servant, St. Philomena, they will feel themselves animated with new ardor, and, full of joy and hope, they will fly, with the swiftness of the eagle, in the narrow way, of which the end is life and eternal glory. The blessed body of St. Philomena was found, in 1802, on the 25th of May, during one of those annual excavations which are usually made at Rome, in those places which have been rendered sacred by the burial of the martyrs. Those excavations took place this year in the catacombs of St. Priscilla, on the new Salarian way. The first thing discovered was the sepulchral stone, which was remarkable for its singularity. It was of baked earth, and distinguished by several symbols, bearing allusion to virginity and martyrdom. They were cut with a transverse line, formed by an inscription, of which the first and last letters appeared to have been effaced by the instruments of the workmen, when endeavoring to detach it from the tomb: it was conceived in these words: --

(FI) LUMENA, PAX TECUM FI (AT).*

* "Filumena, peace be with thee, Amen."

The learned Father Parthenio, S. J., thinks that the two last letters, FI, ought to be united to the first word of the inscription, according to the usage of the ancients, which he says was common to the Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Arabs, Hebrews; and he adds, there are some traces of it to be found even among the Greeks. But the discussions on this point must be left to the learned, and it will be sufficient for us to observe, with the same learned Father, that, "on sepulchral stones, placed by the Christians upon the tombs of the martyrs who confessed Jesus Christ in the first persecution, in place of the formula. In pace, generally more used, they put Pax tecum, which is something more lively and more animated."

The stone having been removed, the sacred relics of the holy martyr appeared, and close beside, an earthen vase of extremely thin material, one half of it broken, and the sides incrusted with dried blood. The blood, a sure sign of the sort of martyrdom which terminated the days of St. Philomena, had been, according to the practice of the primitive Church, collected by pious Christians. "When the Christians could not themselves perform this office of devotion, they had recourse to the pagans, and sometimes even to the executioners of their brethren, in order to have, together with their venerable remains, their sacred blood, offered so generously to Him, who, upon the cross, sanctified, by the effusion of His own blood, the sacrifices, the pains, and the death of His children.

Whilst they were engaged in detaching from the different pieces of the broken vase the blood that adhered to them, and that with the greatest care they gathered in a crystal urn the small particles, the persons present, among whom were some men of talent and cultivated minds, were astonished in seeing sparkle, all on a sudden, the urn upon which their eyes were fixed. They drew nearer; they viewed at leisure the wonderful phenomenon, and with sentiments of the most lively admiration, joined to the most profound respect, blessed God, "Who is glorified in His saints." The sacred particles, in falling from the vase into the urn, were transformed into various precious and shining bodies; some presenting the luster and color of the purest gold, some of silver, some appearing like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones ; so that in place of the matter, of which the color, in detaching it from the vase, was brown and dark, they saw only in the crystal the mingled brilliancy of different colors, like those that shine in the rainbow.

The witnesses of this prodigy were not men to doubt of what they had seen with their eyes, and examined with attention; they knew that God, particularly to those whom in heaven He loads with the riches of His glory, is not so sparing of His gifts, as that a like miracle could cost Him much. They considered it, not only in itself, as a shadow of that heavenly brightness promised in the sacred writings to the body and soul of the just -- Fulgebunt justi sicut sol . . . . et tanquam scintillae (Wisd. iii. 7), -- but also in the happy and salutary effects which it produced in their hearts. They felt their faith revive, and had they desired to compare the present and the past, they might have recalled to mind, to justify their pious belief, many similar facts: that, for example, of St. John Nepomucene, whose body, having been cast into the Muldau, was distinguished in the midst of the waters, during the night, by the brilliant light which clothed it like a garment. What is told of St. Philomena is certainly more wonderful, but yet, how far short of that miracle, of which it is the figure and the pledge, the resurrection of the body, when the elect shall be transformed into the glory of Jesus Christ!

In reading the foregoing, one must be struck with admiration at the permanence of this miraculous transformation. At the present time it excites the wonder of all who go to venerate the sacred relics. They see also, in the same urn, the same brilliant bodies, but their brilliancy has not always the same liveliness, and the colors with which they shine have at different moments different shades: at one time it is the appearance of the ruby, at another that of the emerald that predominates; again, their brilliancy is at times as it were tarnished by a light layer of ashes. Once only it was observed to disappear, and the terrified eyes of those who witnessed it saw in the sacred urn but a little ordinary earth. But this new miracle terminated as soon as the unworthy eyes of a person, who shortly afterward died suddenly, had ceased to profane the holiness of the venerable relics. O God, how the display of Thy power is at the same time amiable and terrible!

A difficulty may here present itself to the reader's mind. This prodigy, as we have called it, took place first at the moment of the extraction of the holy body from the catacombs; the eye-witnesses must have spoken of it, and consequently it must have made a noise in Rome how then has it happened that, from the 25th of May, 1802, until almost the middle of 1805, an object so worthy of all respect should, instead of being exposed upon the altars to receive the homage of the faithful, have been kept concealed and confounded with several other bodies of holy martyrs, which it had not pleased the Lord to honor in so singular a manner? But let us reflect on and admire the wise slowness, and the supernatural, as it were, circumspection of the Court of Rome, when called upon to pronounce on these extraordinary events. Let us meditate particularly on the views of Providence in regard to these sacred remains, and the difficulty will disappear. Yes; God wished, as all that has since happened concurs to prove, that this new sun, like the morning, after having shed the first light, should remain some time longer under the clouds.

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT PHILOMENA.

The martyrdom of St. Philomena is known only from the symbols figured on the sepulchral stone of which we have spoken, and from the revelations * made by the saint herself to different persons.

* At the mention of revelations let no one be scared, as it is certain that, from the beginning of the world, God has revealed to men many things which were known but to Himself alone. "He has done so," says St. Paul, "in several places, and in many ways, but above all, in these latter times by His well-beloved Son." Then, who will dare to dispute with Him the right of doing what He has done so often, or interdict Him the exercise of this right, even in our day? If the meanness of man, or his unworthiriess, is adduced as an argument against revelation, is not our God the God of boundless mercy? Man, be he ever so miserable, is he not His child, the work of His hands and of His goodness, destined to live with Him in a blessed eternity? If it should be objected, that such communications between God and man are useless, in what manner can this be proved? The learned and great Pope Benedict XIV.(**), whose words are of great value in matters of this kind, did not think so; for he is of opinion that revelations, if they are "pious, holy, and profitable to the salvation of souls, ought to be admitted in the process that takes place at Rome, for the canonization of saints." He did not regard, then, all revelations as useless. But if, after mature examination -- if, after having consulted persons who are learned and versed in this sort of raatters -- if, even, as it has happened with these, after having submitted them to the ecclesiastical authority, permission has been obtained to publish them for the glory of our Lord and the edification of men, who will presume to say that such revelations, filled with piety and holiness, are useless or hurtful? Let not the believer merit the reproach of the Holy Spirit that is made to the impious, "of blaspheming what they know not!" I do not desire, indeed, to see imitated the imprudence of those who, at this time particularly, admit without distinction every thing they hear qualified with the name of revelation; this would be, I admit, the most dangerous folly. But I must repeat with St. Paul, that every revelation, no more than every prophecy, should not be despised (***), and that we should yield a pious belief to those which, according to the rules approved by the Church and followed by the saints, bear the characters of truth. Such are the revelations of which I am about speaking in this chapter, and which are perfectly in accordance with the hieroglyphics traced upon the sepulchral stone.

(**) De Beatif. SS. lib. 3, tom. 7, cap. 3.
(***) Prophetias nolite spernere.--l Thess. v. 20.

We shall begin with the figures on the stone: The first is an anchor; the symbol, not only of strength and hope, but also of a sort of martyrdom, such as that to which Trajan condemned St. Clement, the Pope, who, by the orders of this emperor, was cast into the sea, with an anchor tied to his neck.

The second is an arrow, which, upon the tomb of the martyrs of Jesus Christ, signifies a torment, similar to that by which Dioclesian tried to put to death the generous tribune of the first cohort, St. Sebastian.

The third is a palm, placed almost in the middle of the stone: it is the sign, and, as it were, the herald of a brilliant victory gained over the cruelty of the persecuting judges, and the fury of the executioners.

Underneath is represented a kind of lash, used to scourge criminals, and which was made of thongs of leather, loaded with lead: with these the bodies of the innocent Christians ceased to be bruised, only when they had been deprived of life. *

After these are two arrows, so arranged that the first points upward, and the other in a contrary direction. The repetition of this may perhaps mark a repetition of the torments, and its disposition, a miracle; such, for example, as that which happened at Mount Gargan to a shepherd, who, having shot an arrow at a bull that had fled into a cave, dedicated since to St. Michael the Archangel, saw, as well as several other persons, this same arrow return and fall at his feet.

* The discovery of many of the instruments of torture employed to aggravate the sufferings of the martyrs, has enabled us to have some idea of what their anguish must have been, when the scourge made use of was either of leather, loaded with leaden balls, or chains, to the ends of which metal rings were attached.

Lastly, a lily appeared, the symbol of innocence and virginity, which, with the palm and blood-stained vase already spoken of, proclaims the two-fold triumph of St. Philomena over the world and the flesh, and invites the world to honor her, under the glorious titles of Martyr and Virgin.

We shall now examine whether these revelations agree with the different marks just mentioned. * The reader will be able to judge for himself.

* It is well to remark, 1st, that these revelations have been made to three different persons, of whom the first is a young artisan very well known to Don Francis de Lucia, who, in his work, spread by thousands of copies in the kingdom of Naples and the surrounding states, renders public testimony to the purity of his conscience and to his solid piety. The second is a zealous priest, now a canon, for whom the devotion to the holy martyr, of whom he was the perpetual panegyrist, procured the most singular favors. The third is one of those virgins consecrated to Grod in an austere cloister, about thirty years of age, and living at Naples. 2d. These three persons were unknown to each other; they have never had any communication, and inhabit countries far separated from each other. 3d. The accounts which they have given, whether by word of mouth or by writing, fully agree as to the basis and principal circumstances, and in no place contradict the epitaph which we have just explained, and give to it, by the details, an elucidation as clear as it is edifying.

The narrative of the artisan is as follows: "I saw," says he, "the tyrant Dioclesian desperately in love with the virgin Philomena. He condemned her to many torments, and continued to flatter himself with the hope that rigor would, in the end, break her courage, and force her to yield to his wishes. But seeing that all his hopes were vain, and that nothing could bend the firm resolution of the holy martyr, he fell into fits of insanity; and in the madness that then possessed him, he bewailed his being unable to have her for his wife. At length, after having tried various tortures (and he cites precisely the same as were figured on the sepulchral stone, and of which he had absolutely no knowledge), the tyrant had her beheaded. Scarcely had the order been executed, than despair seized his soul. He was then heard to cry out, 'Woe is me! Philomena will never be my spouse! She has been refractory to my will to her last breath; she is dead; how shall I be able to survive?' and, on saying these words, he tore his beard like a madman, and fell into the most frightful convulsions, and throwing himself from his throne upon the ground, he seized on with his teeth whatever came in his way, saying that he wished to be emperor no longer." Such, in a few words, is the summary of the vision with which God was pleased to honor a simple and ignorant man.

The second revelation was made to a very zealous priest, who was exceedingly devoted to St. Philomena. Don Francis says that all he has written concerning it, he has been directly informed of by the priest himself; and, moreover, that he has heard him relate it in the very church in which are deposited the holy relics of the saint. He thus narrates the manner of his revelation: "I was walking one day in the country, when I saw approach toward me a woman who was a stranger to me; she addressed me, saying, 'Is it really true that you have exposed in your church a picture of St. Philomena?' Yes, I answered; what has been told you is perfectly true. 'But,' added she, 'what then do you know about this saint? Very little: to this hour we have only been able to know of her history what may be learned from the inscription and symbols figured on her tomb; and I set about explaining them to her. She suffered me to finish, and then with vivacity replied, 'You know nothing more, then?' No; nothing else. 'There is, however, a vast deal of other things to be said concerning this saint. When they will be known people will be filled with amazement. Do you even know the cause of her persecution and martyrdom?' Nothing more. 'Well, then, I shall tell it you. It was for having refused the hand of Dioclesian, who intended her for his wife; and the motive of her refusal was the vow she had made of remaining forever a virgin for the love of Jesus Christ.' At these words, filled with gladness, like one who had just heard news for which he had a long time sighed, I said to her. You do not deceive me? are you quite sure of what I have just heard you say? But where have you read this? For during several years back we have searched for some author wherein we might find some account of this saint, and our inquiries have, hitherto, been unavailing. Tell me in what book you have found all you have told me. 'In what book? said she, in a tone in which was discoverable an expression of indescribable surprise and gravity. 'Is it really to me that such a question should be asked? to me, as if I could be ignorant of it! No, surely; I do not deceive you. Yes; I know it -- I am certain of it -- believe me.' And in saying these words, I saw her disappear with the rapidity of lightning."

To this narrative, faithfully transcribed from the Italian author, I shall add some of his reflections. "The stranger," says he, "(and whom, in my opinion, it is not difficult to recognize,) speaks of the hand of Dioclesian as having been offered to her by that prince, which supposes that the martyrdom of St. Philomena should have taken place during the time that Dioclesian was a widower, or was on the point of becoming so by the death of St. Sirena, whom he put to death, together with his own daughter, in hatred of the faith which both had embraced. The emperor was then at Rome, where he condemned to death, at two different times, the heroic St. Sebastian." These observations, suggested by the preceding revelation, help to determine, in some measure, the epoch of St. Philomena's martyrdom, and to refute the objection which certain critics have made, founded upon the long sojourn of Dioclesian in the east.

The third revelation, and the most circumstantial, is that of a nun of Naples.* We shall follow the words of the author as closely as the genius of our language will permit.

* This revelation has been published after undergoing a most strict examination, instituted by ecclesiastical authority, and it being duly and fully ascertained that it bore all the marks which distinguish true revelations from false ones.

"The holy martyr had," says he, "a long time before given to this religieuse several distinguishing marks of a very peculiar protection. She had delivered her from temptations of mistrust and impurity, by which God had wished to further purify His servant; and to the painful state in which these attacks of Satan had placed her, St. Philomena had made succeed the sweetness of joy and peace. In the intimate communications which took place at the foot of the cross between these two spouses of the Saviour, the saint gave her advice full of wisdom; at one time, concerning the guidance of the community, with which this religieuse had been charged by her superiors; at another time concerning her own personal conduct. That upon which they conversed the oftenest was upon the value of virginity, the means that St. Philomena had made use of to preserve it unsullied, even in the midst of the greatest perils ; and the immeasurable treasures found in the cross and in the fruit that it bears.

"These extraordinary favors, granted to a soul so impressed with a sense of its misery as to consider itself utterly undeserving of them, made her fear some illusion. She had recourse to prayer, and to the prudence of those whom God had given her to guide her conscience; and while those wise directors submitted to a slow and judicious examination the different favors with which Heaven had honored this nun, revelations of another nature were made to her by the intervention of the same Saint, whose name they all tended to make more glorious.

"The religieuse, of whom we speak, had in her cell a little statue of St. Philomena, formed upon the model of her blessed body, such as is seen at Mugnano; and more than once the entire community had remarked on the face of this same statue alterations that appeared to them to be miraculous. This circumstance had inspired them with the desire of exposing it in their church with great solemnity.

"The fete took place, and from that time the miraculous statue remains upon its altar. The good nun used to go, on the days of her communion, to return thanks before it; and one day, as she felt in her heart a great desire to know the precise epoch of the martyrdom of the saint, that, as she said, those who had devotion to her might honor her more particularly, all on a sudden her eyes were closed in such a manner that she was unable to open them, and a voice, full of sweetness, which appeared to come from where the statue was, addressed to her these words: 'My dear sister, it was the tenth of the month of August that I died in order to live, and that I entered triumphantly into heaven, where my divine Spouse put me in possession of those everlasting joys which cannot be comprehended by the understanding of man. Thus, it was for this reason that his admirable wisdom so disposed the circumstances of my translation to Mugnano that, despite of the plans arranged by the priest who had obtained my mortal remains, I arrived in that town, not on the fifth, as it had been intended, but on the tenth of August; and not to be placed with little public solemnity in the oratory of his house, as he also wished, but in the church, where they venerate me, and in the midst of universal acclamations of joy, accompanied by miraculous circumstances which made the day of my martyrdom a true day of triumph.'

"These words, which carried with them proofs of the truth that had dictated them, renewed in the heart of the nun her fears lest she should be under an illusion; she redoubled her prayers, and begged of her director to undeceive her. They wrote, therefore, to Don Francis, enjoining him secrecy on the subject, praying him to answer distinctly as to the circumstances of the revelation which regarded the resolutions he had taken. He answered that they were perfectly in accordance with the fact. This reply not only consoled the agitated nun, but encouraged her directors, for the glory of God and St. Philomena, to avail of this means which the saint herself seemed to point out, in order to acquire circumstantial information concerning her life and martyrdom.

"They therefore commanded this said person to use for this purpose the most earnest solicitation with the saint, and as obedience, according to holy writers, is always victorious, one day, when she was in her cell, in prayer to obtain this favor, her eyes closed as before, in spite of resistance, and she heard the same voice, which said to her, "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 me 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 (filia luminis) because on that day I was born to the faith. *

* Don Francis observes that in giving, in the first edition of his work, this etymology to the name of Philomena, he himself hesitated to admit it, but that an interior impulse continually urged him, in spite of his repugnance, not only to write it then, but to repeat it again in the following editions. It appeared, indeed, more natural to take the root of this word from the Greek language, which gives a different sense, although analogous to the first, and it is that of well-beloved as the saint is, in fact, particularly so.

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, in 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; he appeared to be prepossessed in this manner during the entire time that my father was stating with animated feelings every thing 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? 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, every thing 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 every thing; 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. 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 passed 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 bear 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; 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 these 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)."

Such is, according to this revelation, the history of the martyrdom of St. Philomena. The reader sees in it nothing but what is pious, holy, and edifying; he finds in it, also, proofs above suspicion of the truth of the facts which it contains. He will, perhaps, say to himself, in thinking of the numerous and brilliant miracles, which have rendered the name of the holy martyr so celebrated in the world, that it was becoming that the Lord should manifest, at least partially, her merits. The faithful, by this means, are more edified, and the glory of God, as well as virtue, which He honors in St. Philomena, is promoted in a great degree. But since it has not pleased the divine wisdom to leave, in the historical monuments, any trace of so great generosity and such heroism, by what other means than that of revelation could the knowledge of them come to our age? To our age! This expression includes many reflections. It is the age of pride, it is the age of incredulity, the age in which they desire to subject to the false lights of a wandering reason the very thoughts and conduct of God. For this age, the divine wisdom of Providence, so admirable in the variety of its combinations, is but folly, a jest; it turns into ridicule the enlightened simplicity of faith; it treats eveiy thing of a supernatural order as superstition and fable; it jests at belief, it despises holiness, it devotes to its hatred those whom God has charged with its instruction. The light, nevertheless, destined to enlighten the world, ceases not to shine. If those ungrateful beings are unwilling to profit by it, let them shut their eyes -- that is in their power; although, to say the truth, if they kept them open to fix them upon the works of God, their countenance should blush in beholding what His power operates, and what instruments He uses to display it. A woman! An unknown virgin! All kinds of wonders wrought through her invocation; wrought in favor of those whom the world persecutes! Performed in the bosom of the Roman Church, whose practices are thus rendered more estimable, its sacraments more frequented, its ministers more venerable, its name, faith, and doctrine more clear to its children. What a humiliation for them! And this is the fruit of the world's secret practices, its infamous writings, which are become almost as numer- ous as the sands of the sea. I think I see Goliath, struck again by the stone from the brook, roll expiring at the feet of David, who cuts off his head. Or rather, the proud Holofernes, killed in his drunkenness by the weak hand of a woman: and, while Nabuchodonosor, the image of Satan, as his general is the image of the vile multitude which Satan directs, grows pale and shakes upon his throne, at the news of the check which his invincible army has received, the faithful, figured by the Jews of Bethulia, make the skies ring with their shouts of thanksgiving and of victory, and bless with emulation the new Judith, whose powerful arm has saved them. God could not choose, in His infinite treasures, a means more suited than this to confound the pride of the age, and to give triumph to His cause.

Saint Philomena, Santa Maria in Porto, Ravenna


CHAPTER III.

TRANSLATION OF THE RELICS OF ST. PHILOMENA TO MUGNANO, AND THE MIRACLES THAT FOLLOWED.

It has been observed that the body of our saint had remained in obscurity at Rome in the year 1805. Divine Providence was pleased to draw it from that state, and to glorify it in the following manner : --

Don Francis de Lucia, a zealous and holy missionary of Italy, came from Naples to Rome with Don Bartholomew of Cesarea, who was chosen by the Holy See to govern the diocese of Potenza. He felt an anxious desire to obtain for his domestic chapel the body of a saint of a known name,* and the Bishop of Potenza having seconded him in the steps he took for this purpose, he was introduced, shortly after his arriyal, into the apartment where they have collected those blessed remains, in order that he might himself make his selection.

* The ancient Christians, when so fortunate as to obtain possession of the mangled remains of the martyrs, frequently buried them without distinguishing their graves by the empty honor of a name. This apparent neglect may have arisen from the same cause that leaves so many graves in our burial-grounds unmarked by a stone. Besides, it often happened that criminals, amongst whom Christians were classed, were sent from the remote provinces of the empire, that their deaths might afford a sight for that heartless generation. Indeed, so little did the Christians esteem the remembrance of the world they despised, that in Martyr of Christ was comprised all their desire, their glory, and their hope: hence, in the catacombs, the place selected for their burial, such inscriptions as the following have been found : --

MARCELLA ET CHRISTI MARTYRES CCCCCL.
(Marcella and 550 Martyrs of Christ.)
HIC REQUIESCIT MEDICUS CUM PLURIBUS.
(Here rests Medicus with many.)
CL MARTYRES CHRISTI.
(150 Martyrs of Christ.)

When he came into the presence of the bones of the holy martyr, he felt, as he tells himself, a sudden and quite extraordinary joy, which, showing itself at the same time upon his countenance, was remarked with surprise by Monsignor Ponzetti, keeper of the sacred relics. All his wishes, from that moment, were for these sacred bones, which he preferred to all the others, without being able to explain the motive. He did not venture, however, to manifest his choice, fearing a refusal, when he was told, on the part of the keeper, that he, having observed his predilection for St. Philomena, was willing to grant her to him; and the person added these remarkable words: -- " Monsignor is persuaded that the saint wishes to go to your country, where she will work great miracles."

This news filled the soul of the good missionary with consolation, and he only thought of the means of transferring the holy remains. They were to be delivered to him that very day; but as that day, and the two other following days, passed without seeing the promise fulfilled, he began to fear lest the keeper would recall his intention. It was, indeed, a thing unusual at Rome, to give to a private person an entire saint's body, and above all, with a proper name, because at that time the annual excavations produced very few of this kind, and for this reason they were only given to bishops or churches. Monsignor Ponzetti then informed Don Francis that it was impossible for him to accede to his wishes, and he offered him his choice among the twelve bodies without names.

Don Francis found himself, at this intimation, in a great embarrassment, as well on account of the preparations he had made, the letters he had written on the subject to Mngnano, and other circumstances unnecessary to be here mentioned, as also from the anxiety with which he felt himself oppressed when he attempted to fix his choice upon another saint. How admirable is the providence of God m the secrecy of its ways! These difficulties, and many others also, were only to make known more clearly the divine will in regard of the destination of this blessed body, and to glorify it the more; for shortly after, without the missionary daring even to think of it, he became, first, the depository, and then the master of it.

The persons charged with translating the sacred relics of St. Philomena to Mugnano, set out from Naples toward the evening. They had counted upon the light of the moon to guide them during the night, and, therefore, did not provide any other means for lighting their way, in case of need. Thus, when a darkness covered the sky, which threatened to del uge them with rain, they had no protection to recur to but that of the saint: and God was pleased, for the glory of His servant, that it should not be sought in vain; for while the pious escort invoked her with fervor, a column of light was suddenly formed in the air, the lower part of which rested upon the shrine, where it remained steadily fixed until daylight, while the upper part of it reached up to the sky, and showed a certain number of stars, that appeared to form about it a belt.

The octave day of the translation, during the solemn Mass, in presence of the crowd which assisted at it, a child, about ten years old, stood up in the middle of the church, and walked over to the shrine to thank her benefactress. Her mother, a poor widow, had carried her in her arms into the church, and from the beginning of the Mass until the elevation, the moment of the miracle, had unceasingly and fervently supplicated the saint. She joined her voice to those who glorified God for having conferred such power on St. Philomena. The child cured had been a cripple; it could neither walk nor stand; it was known to all the village, and all the village after Mass saw it walk through the streets, announcing the miracle of which it had been the object, and to which they all bore testimony, both in congratulating the child, and in filling the air with their joyful acclamations.

The miracle wrought during the holy sacrifice attracted such a concourse to vespers, that the church could not hold all the people: a great number remained outside, among whom was a woman of the village of Avella, holding in her arms a little girl, about two years old, who had been blinded by the small-pox. The most celebrated physicians of the capital had been consulted; they considered the disease incurable. But the afflicted mother, knowing that the things impossible to man are possible with God, did not despair of the cure of her daughter; she ran to Mugnano, and although the passage to the saint appeared to be stopped, for the reason above mentioned, she succeeded in making her way to the shrine. Animated, immediately, with a living faith, she takes some oil from the lamp that burned before St. Philomena; she anointed with it the eyes of her child, and the little incurable was in- stantly cured. At this miracle there are new cries of joy, and new emotions produced by exultation and gratitude. The people outside the church re-echo the acclamations from within. The preacher (for all this took place during the sermon), Don Antonio Yetrano, could no longer be heard; and as every one was demanding with clamor to see the child that had been cured, a priest took it in his arms, and mounting upon a balustrade, he presented it to the view of the people, who, filled with wonder, proclaimed aloud the power of God and the glory of His servant.

There took place, during the following days, a great number of similar miracles, the accounts of which have been published. We shall now say a word on the erection of their chapel to the saint.

The first intention of Don Francis was to leave the relics in the church of our Lady delle Grazie, He destined them, as we said, for his private oratory. The numerous miracles, however, worked since their arrival at Mugnano, showed him that such was not the design of the Most High. He resigned himself, therefore, willingly to the sacrifice which Divine Providence required of him, and occupied himself henceforward only with the thought of erecting, in that same church, an altar, where the saint might receive the homage of the devout. This altar was shortly after erected. It was placed in one of the chapels of the church; but its simplicity corresponded little with the celebrity of the holy martyr, and the grandeur of the miracles with which the Lord had been pleased to honor her. It is not meant to make any reproach to the people of Mugnano; they were poor, as well as the most part of those among whom the saint shared her favors. Their alms, which were abundant, considering their moderate means, were scarcely sufficient, particularly during the troubles of Italy, for the maintenance of the public worship of the saint. They could, therefore, only form the desire of seeing the saint's sanctuary adorned in a more suitable manner. God was pleased to second their pious wishes; and for this end, He made use of one of those circumstances which are regarded by men as ordinary, but which, in the mind of God, are designed to manifest His glory and to honor His saints.

A celebrated advocate of Naples, by name Alexander Serio, had, for a long time, a great devotion toward St. Philomena, and his wife united with him in this devotion. As they had considerable estates in the territory of Mugnano, they came there in 1814, exactly at that time when each year they celebrated the feast of the Translation. Don Serio had been suffering for several years from an internal disease, which was wasting him away. His wife, though deeply afflicted, was still full of hope in the mediation of St. Philomena; she prayed to her, and got others to offer fervent prayers to obtain the recovery of her husband. The day of the fete on which occasion she redoubled her entreaties, together with her confidence, when she was about to conclude, after the benediction of the most blessed Sacrament had been given, Don Alexander, who was in the church with his wife, was attacked with violent pains in his bowels, which seemed to threaten his life. He was quickly carried home, and his disease, in a few hours, made such a rapid and alarming progress, that his life was despaired of. He was unable even to confess himself. His poor wife, overpowered with grief, exclaimed, in her deep affliction: "Is this, then, O St. Philomena, the favor you have obtained for me?" and immediately, by an inspiration of faith, laying hold of an image of the saint, she threw it on her dying husband, asking, at least, the favor of seeing him comforted by the last sacraments before he should expire. With this prayer she made a vow: she promised, in the name of her husband, to have erected in the chapel of St. Philomena an altar of marble. At that moment the dying man recovered the use of his senses. He declared he was out of danger, confessed himself in an edifying manner, and as soon as he had finished his confession, he no longer felt pain and the usual symptoms of the malady that so long afflicted him had disappeared.

The favor being granted, the promise was fulfilled; they went even beyond their engagement; thenceforward, the sanctuary, now so celebrated, presented to the crowd of pilgrims that visited it a more consoling sight for their devotion. There was one thing which particularly attracted their attention, namely, the great marble slab that covered the altar, and on which were still visible the marks of a miracle. The workman, in using his chisel to fit it into its place, split it nearly the whole of its breadth. A number of persons were present, and it may be imagined what trouble was felt by them and what confusion by the workman. He was, notwithstanding this accident, very expert in his art; and feeling humbled by this awkwardness, he set himself to mend the breach. The breach was at the beginning more than a finger wide; he endeavored to unite the edges by means of a plate of iron, and then filled the opening with cement. The finger of the saint aiding the hand of the workman, by a wonderful miracle, joined in its former state the marble that had been separated in so remarkable a manner. She left merely at the place where it had been split a line of a deep color, which might be taken for a vein in tile stone by a person unacquainted with the miracle.

In 1831, there was at Naples a poor washer-woman, whose state of pregnancy caused her much suffering. The name of this poor woman was Anne Moccia, and her husband's, Joseph Cagiano. To obtain some ease in her sufferings, she resolved to burn, day and night, a lamp before the image of the saint, and this resolution she kept strictly, as long as her means enabled her. But one evening, as she found herself without oil or money, she thus with simplicity addressed the saint: "My dear saint, I have nothing for you or for me; here we are both in the dark; but as I must go to work, let me leave you and say good-by." After locking her own and taking the key, she went away to the next House, that she might work by the light of her neighbor's lamp. The night was far advanced when she returned home. She opened her door, and to her great astonishment found the lamp lighting and filled with oil, and her humble dwelling miraculously illuminated. She ran instantly to the window, called her neighbors, and told what had happened, and invited them to return thanks to St. Philomena for this feeling act of her goodness, which was the forerunner of several others. The good woman, however, appeared not to be better than before, and her time being come, she had to endure, during five days, violent pains, which seemed to endanger her life. The midwife was certain that the infant was dead for three days past. The illness increased every moment. The poor patient got brought to her the image of the saint, and taking it in her hand, she spoke to her in this manner: "Is this, then, what I have asked of you? is this the return for the oil I have expended?" Whilst she was venting herself in mild complaint, an infant was born, but it was dead. The midwife, who expected as much, had sufficient address to conceal the fact from the mother, and while she bestowed on her all her care, the little creature remained on the floor, without even being wrapped up, and this in a very cold season -- it was the 13th of March. An hour and a half had already passed, when the poor mother became aware of her misfortune. In the bitterness of her grief she was heard to utter these words: "A great favor you have indeed done me! Away! I don't wish you any longer in my house. Take this image; put it out of my sight." Such expressions may perhaps shock one, but the living faith that prompted them moved Heaven, and was repaid by a mighty favor; for at that same moment the infant moved; it cried, and every one in the house ran toward it, shouting out, "A miracle! a miracle!" It was baptized, and after thirty-five days its innocent soul departed, to join in heaven her who obtained for it the two-fold life of nature and of grace. This miracle made a great noise at Naples; and several learned and pious ecclesiastics published it in all directions to the honor of the glorious saint.


Statue de Sainte Philoméene devant la Cathédrale Sainte-Philomène de Mysore



CHAPTER IV.

MIRACLES WROUGHT IN FAVOR OF CHILDREN.

Rose de Lucia, cousin of Don Francis, had a child about eight years old, which, in spite of the mother's care and all the efforts of medicine, had been sinking under a severe sickness: at last he expired in the sight of his parents and of several other persons. His poor mother could scarcely believe her dear child was no more. She tried every means to justify a hope that her heart could not quit; but, finally, every thing proving unavailing, she became aware of the afflicting certainty that her son was dead; St. Philomena had not heard the ardent prayers that had been so often addressed to her by a disconsolate mother. In the bitterness of her heart, her faith seemed to revive with increased force. She ran to the image of the saint, took it from the wall to which it was hung, and threw it upon the lifeless body of her child, asking, with loud cries and torrents of tears, that her son might be restored. At that moment the corpse arose, and, as if he had awakened from sleep, he moved to the foot of his bed; and those eyes that had already wept him dead, beheld him, not only returned to life without the least symptom of illness, but vigorous and full of health.

At Monteforte a miracle not less extraordinary took place. One Lelio Gesualdo, and his wife, Antonia Valentino, had a little daughter named Rosa Fortunata, at the time eleven months old: she was their only and dearly loved child. One day, somehow or other, this infant escaped from the hands of the person who carried it, and fell from a window into the street. The height of the window was eighty palms (sixty feet). The fall must have been rapid, for the head of the child striking against a brick chimney, detached from it several splinters, and then fell upon the pavement. Its mother, who witnessed this dreadful accident, cried out, "Good St. Philomena, this child belongs to you if you save her for me!" The father of the little Rosa, who was in the street at the same time, made, in his fright, the same exclamation, and ran to the child, which lay stretched upon the ground; he took it up, and saw neither wound nor bruise, and there was on its person no other mark of the fall, than the breaking of a silver ornament that was about its neck.

Another child, about eleven years old, of the name of Giacomo d'Elia, son of a surgeon of Visciano, had his foot broken by the wheel of a carriage that passed over it. The pain was so great that he became insensible, and was carried home half dead. Immediately, not-withstanding the efforts of art, the wound brcame gangrenous, and, on account of the extreme weakness of the boy, amputation being impracticable, his death was daily expected. In this state of things a priest of the place arrived; he had an image of the saint, and exposed it to the veneration of the family, and recommended them to interest St. Philomena in their favor. They knelt down and recited in common the litany of the Blessed Virgin, and the priest, approaching the bed of the child, awoke him from his lethargy, and showed him the image of the saint. At the sight, young d'Elia began to speak, and appeared to be no longer ill: the wound was quickly uncovered, when it was seen that the gangrene had disappeared; the foot was cured, the child got up, and, although he wanted a toe, he walked with perfect ease.

The favor that had been obtained by a child not five years old was not less extraordinary. This favor might be attributed to the name she bore. She was called Philomena, and the saint has always marked a particular affection for the children who have received this name in baptism. The parents of Philomena were Maria Monteforte and Kicolo Canonico. One day, as the child was playing near an oven, the door came off and fell upon her foot, and end off the fourth toe. At the cries of the child they hastened to her relief; they laid her on her bed, and after examining the hurt, which might become serious, they called a surgeon, who applied the remedies that his art suggests. Night came, and the little Philomena could not sleep; but, as she herself related, and the result proved the truth of her account, while the whole family were sleeping, the saint appeared to her, gave her some sweet-meats, saying, "My little Philomena, take courage! You will tell your mamma that she must weep no more, and that I will cure you." She disappeared. The child began immediately to cry out, calling its mother; the mother ran to the child, as well as all the persons in the house. Philomena told them in her own way what she had seen, what had been given her, and what she had been commanded to communicate to her mother. This announcement filled the family with gratitude and joy. They long to see the cure take place. They saw it realized the next morning; for she walked about as before, but still wanted the toe that had been cut off. It was hoped that the saint would finish the work she had begun, when they heard that Philomena had received a second and a third visit, and that caressing her little protege the saint had each time bestowed on her some sweet thing. This hope was not vain. Two days before the feast of the saint, Philomena received a toe in place of the one she had lost. But it was not the same as the former one, which had been buried in the church-yard, but another, proportioned to the rest of the foot, which it was easy to see was there by some extraordinary operation.

There was another Philomena somewhat older than the preceding, and perhaps also more giddy. Her parents' names were Tommaso Tedeseo and Ursula Serio. This event happened in 1830. The day of St. Philomena's feast she was amusing herself by cutting with a pair of scissors, when, by some awkwardness, she drove them into her right eye; during five days there issued from the wound blood and water. The afflicted family had recourse to the intercession of the holy martyr, but imprudently saying that they would rather see her dead than blind. Don Francis, informed of the accident and of the inconsiderate prayers of the family, goes to them, and after reproaching them a little, he calls the child, and says to her, "My dear, go directly to the church; put your finger into the lamp of the saint, and with the oil that will be on the finger, carefully, yourself, anoint the wound." Philomena obeys, and does exactly as she had been desired. The faith of the child obtained her a miraculous favor: the eye was perfectly cured, contrary to the expectation of the doctors, who had pronounced it incurable; and besides this, there was observed something more brilliant in it than in the left eye. Philomena gathered a still more precious fruit from this prodigy. Her faith was so singularly increased, that it merited to be rewarded by another favor equally wonderful. Some days afterward she met one of her cousins whose face had been severely burned by the fire-works on the day of a fete. She immediately set about persuading him to imitate her example. According to her, nothing was more easy than to be cured; it was only necessary to go and take some oil, and to rub with it the eye and cheek, and all would be done. The little boy is convinced; he goes, and does as his cousin told him, and the next day in waking he found himself so perfectly cured, that in seeing him, one would have doubted if any thing had happened to him. Here I would be tempted to exclaim with our divine Master, "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones." -- (Matt, xi. 25.) But what is this mystery? Have we not all received faith, of which so few, so few, indeed, amongst Christians, know how to make available the inexhaustible resources!

The poor have also an abundant share in the favors of St. Philomena. At Vista, a town situated at the foot of Mount Gargano, there lived a very virtuous, but miserably poor family. The extreme poverty in which they were in the country, obliged them to come to town in order to see if they could gain there a trifle to enable them to subsist. The husband's name was Giovanni Troya, and his wife's Maria Teresa Bovini. A ruined cabin, around which was a small garden, formed all their property and all their hopes. In this afflicting situation, the view of the future afforded little consolation; Maria Teresa, particularly, seeing herself on the eve of giving an infant to the world, could not think on this subject without feeling her heart oppressed with grief. "Where can she place her child? How shall she procure for it the requisite clothes?" But God can do all things, and St. Philomena, if she wishes to aid me, can work a miracle for me." In this manner she encouraged herself to bear her affliction, and often she prayed to the saint not to abandon her in her distress. At last the dreaded hour came, and the earnestly-sought relief did not yet appear. The embarrassment both of the mother and the person who assisted her was exceedingly great. Maria Teresa made her complaint to the saint. The woman sought everywhere for a bit of linen to cover the child, for the destitution of this family was such that even a miserable rag was not to be found. Moved with compassion, the woman took a handkerchief from her shoulders and wrapped the child in it, and the afflicted mother, seeing that there was wanting a band to swathe the child, said she had one, though half torn and much worn, in a trunk which she showed. The woman ran and opened it, but what was her surprise when she saw there a little bundle of neat and elegant clothes, arranged with order! There issued from them so sweet an odor, that the air was embalmed with it. She took the treasure and kissed it; the mother, overpowered with joy, did the same, and was imable to express her gratitude to her heavenly benefactress. The infant, thus richly dressed, was carried to the baptismal font. The news of the miracle spread abroad, and persons came from all quarters to kiss the wonderful clothes, and to breathe the heavenly perfume they exhaled. The saint did not stop here. The next night Maria Teresa was awakened by the cries of the little child; and by the light of a dim lamp that lighted the room, she sought for the child, which she did not find in the place she had laid it. Doubting and in fear, she turned to another side, where she beheld a young person dressed in white, and of a heavenly beauty; who held in her arms the little child, which she was affectionately caressing. "What a consolation for the poor mother! Seized with respect, joy, confusion, and gratitude, she cannot help exclaiming, "Ah, St. Philomena!" And St. Philomena kissed the child and laid it again in its place, and disappeared. Maria Teresa was, during several days, in a kind of ecstasy from the effect of this sight; and we who read this, ought we to restrain our admiration and joy? Ah! blessed are the simple souls, and the hearts truly faithful! Blessed is innocence and poverty, rich in faith! At the celebration of the feast of St. Philomena, in 1830, the magnificence was great and the concourse extraordinary. All the bells were in motion; and as children are often fond of going into places where prudence does not guide them, it happened that a little boy mounted up to one of the steeples, from which he fell down on the pavement. The height of the place from which he fell was about fifty palms. His companions thought he was killed; they uttered a shout; the people ran, and, while expecting to see him dashed to pieces and lifeless, they saw him, full of vigor, get up and run, and, proud of his fall, mount up again to the belfry from which he had just tumbled down. He owed, he said, his preservation to the name of St. Philomena, for at the moment of his fall he had invoked her.

On the eve of the same day, a similar miracle took place. A child, nine years old, while standing upon a high rock, fell, in the presence of its parents, into a deep valley which the rock overhung. Her parents ran to her succor, and, when they lifted her up, they found she was insensible and apparently lifeless. Pierced with the keenest grief, they threw themselves on their knees, and loudly called on their blessed protectress, saying, "Blessed Philomena, good Saint Philomena, do not let us bring our child back dead to the home from which we have brought her full of life! Oh! come, we beseech you, to our relief." And, in their affliction, to move the heart of the saint, as a mortification, practiced in that country, they began to rub their tongues to the rocks, saying they would not cease till their prayer was granted. The child, however, did not come to herself; the appearances were more alarming; in seeing her and touching her you would have supposed her dead. The poor parents did not lose confidence, they cried again to heaven, they imposed on themselves new mortifications, and at length they had reason to be proud of their faith and perseverance. The little girl awoke as if from a deep sleep; she called her parents, and, while they were running to her, she got up and went to meet them. They sought in vain for any mark on her body, she felt nothing ailed her, the saint had repaired all in the twinkling of an eye, and the family went on foot to thank her for the benefit which they owed to her powerful intercession.


Statue représentant sainte Philomène, église d'Estivaux, Corrèze, France.

CHAPTER V.

FAVORS GRANTED THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF ST. PHILOMENA.

One morning, as Don Francis was entering the church to say mass, he saw his mother run toward him, saying, with an affrighted look, "Give me a moment; I have something to tell you; I feel myself strongly urged to tell it to you." He desires her to speak ; and she began to recount a vision or dream which she had had on the preceding night. "I saw," said she, "St. Philomena preparing for a journey; and, fearing that she wished to leave us, I was weeping, with many of the inhabitants of Mugnano, and begged of her to remain with us. She then, with the kindest accent, encouraged us, telling us she would return the next day; but that the family of Terres, to whom she owed many obligations, being exposed to great peril, gratitude required that she should go to protect them from it." Don Francis regarded this dream as the effect of the imagination; he could not help, however, after a little reflection, writing on the subject to tlie family of Terres. They received his letter, opened it, and were astonished to find in it an event which had like to have destroyed them the night before. Robbers, disguised as foreign soldiers, whose language they borrowed, had come to get lodging, as they said. As the door was not opened for them, they began to force it; they threatened fire and sword; and massacre was about to commence, when an incident, ordered by Heaven, came to baffle their sanguinary intentions. The Terres had no sooner seen themselves in danger, than all the family implored the succor of St. Philomena, "No," said they, " the saint will not abandon us; let us pray, let us have confidence in her; we shall be delivered from this danger." Their hope was not in vain. At the moment that the assassins were rushing toward the staircase, after having forced in the door, the family heard several voices, which were well known, call from without, "Light, light! Quick, quick! bring us light!" And these cries, several times repeated, reaching the ears of the robbers, as well as of the people of the house, encouraged the latter, and scared the former, and in the twinkling of an eye the danger was over. The robbers having taken flight, the Terres saw their friends come in, both to their joy and the others' surprise. The different circumstances of this event appeared to both parties very singular; but, on the next morning, when the letter arrived, the mystery was explained. The family of Terres, and their neighbors, who, without knowing why, had come to visit so late, discovered in what had passed the finger of the saint, and thanked her in all the effusion of their hearts.

St. Philomena comes, not only invisibly, but visibly, to the succor of those who invoke her. A wood-cutter of Sirignano, called Carluccio Napolitano, favored, on account of his devotion toward the saint, with several graces, had a great confidence in her. This worthy man carried always about him one of her portraits, before which he used to open his heart, in his various necessities. One time, as he was journeying, being surprised by the night, he went into an inn. The conversation turned on St. Philomena, and he produced his portrait of her, to show it to the persons present; it pleased one of them, and he offered two pieces of money for it, another offered three, then four, five, and even twelve. But Carluccio answered that he would not give it for a Roman crown, and that it was too good company for him, and then he replaced it in his pocket-book. The next morning he got up very early, and directed his steps toward a village, called the Sorbo, where he had to work. In crossing a thick forest, he went astray, and soon, not knowing either where he was, or where he was going, his heart turned to his good saint, to whom he thus spoke: "My dear saint, yesterday I would not part with you, even for a good sum of money; I preferred your company to everything, and today you see me astray in this wood, and you don't come to my relief!" He had not finished these words, when he saw coming a young person, of about thirteen years of age, dressed in a robe of sky blue, and of great beauty and modesty. She looks at him, and says to him, "My good man, what is the matter with you? what trouble has happened to you?" Carluccio explains his embarrassment. "That is nothing," she replies; "follow me, and I will set you again on your road." And, without saying more, she went forward, as if to show him the way. "Walking after her, a little surprised at the circumstance, he said to himself, "Now, it may be seen what great goodness St. Philomena has! She runs to assist one, when one has scarcely called her; for I cannot doubt but that it is she that has sent to me this amiable little child." He was occupying himself with these pions thoughts, when the young girl stopped, and, turning toward him, said, "Follow, now, that road, for near a mile; you will then meet a woman with a basket on her head; she is going to the place you seek. You will go along with her, and shortly after you will arrive at the place." Carluccio thanked her affectionately, and they separated. He turned round to see where the charitable lady was going, but he could see her no longer, and he continued his way, without further reflection. Immediately afterward he found himself in a new difficulty. The path along whiqh he went terminated in several others, and which to choose he knew not; lifting up his eyes, he saw at the same time advancing toward him the woman he had been told of; he recognized her by the basket. "Do you know," he instantly said to her, "which of these paths leads to the village of Sorbo?" " Sorbo!" replies the villager, "I know the way; it is my village; come and I will bring you to it." And he reached the village shortly after. It was then that the eyes of Carluccio were opened. How could this young lady, so genteel, so modest, so elegantly dressed, be traveling in the wood? How could she have guessed his embarrassment, and answered his thought? How could she foresee what was to happen to him, and to represent to him so accurately the woman, the load she was carrying, and the place where she was going? "No, no," said he to himself, "it has not been chance; it is St. Philomena herself that I have seen, and who has extricated me from the difficulty I was in." During several days, Carluccio seemed almost beside himself; his heart was filled with a particular love and devotion toward his celestial guide.

The special court of Avellino, the sentences of which are without appeal, had condemned to death a man named Pellegrino Ruocco, together with two other criminals. The sentence being intimated to the condemned, preparing them for death was the only occupation of the persons about them. The next day, the 19th of August, 1832, the sentence was to take effect. Pellegrino had in the town an aunt, who bore him a great affection. The mournful news soon reached her, and, almost as soon, she, together with some other pious persons, fled to the church, where they offered up fervent prayers for her unhappy nephew. A three-days' devotion was, at the time, celebrating in honor of the blessed martyr. After having implored the succor of the Queen of Virgins, these women, full of faith, went to the altar of St. Philomena, and asked her, with lamentations mingled with tears, to vouchsafe to interest herself in obtaining the pardon of the condemned man. The crowd that was in the church paying their homage to the saint, could not refrain, on hearing them, from disapproving of their conduct. " Why," said they, " ask the pardon of a criminal after the sentence has been passed? Would it not have been better to have prayed beforehand? And what way is there to obtain the pardon?" It was in this manner the people reasoned; the good aunt thought differently. Persuaded that to the Lord and his saints nothing is impossible, she returned home, and, prostrate before an image of St. Philomena, she persevered in asking the pardon of her nephew. She thought she heard then an interior voice, which said to her distinctly, "Go, set out for Naples; cast yourself at the feet of the king, and the pardon will be granted to you." As she did not know whence this advice could come, she continued her prayer: the more she prayed, the more she heard the voice; but when she began to see something supernatural in it, a difficulty started: it appeared to her that she could never succeed in such an enterprise. However, tlie divine light cleared it up; she decided on the journey; she set out from Avellino, toward six and three-quarters of the same day, and, after having run thirty miles, she arrived in the capital toward midnight. That same night, her nephew, who had no knowledge of the project of his aunt, recommended himself ardently to the blessed martyr; and, having fallen into a slumber, he thought he saw her, and heard her utter these words: "Fear not; be content: though you should be at the gibbet, I will know how to rescue you from the hands of your executioners." He awoke, and at the moment he communicated the favorable dream to his companions. The next day he told it to the persons that came to see him ; the joy that animated, at the moment, his counte- nance, revealed what was passing in his heart ; he was unshaken in his confidence. His aunt was, however, in a great embarrassment. The petition was ready, and the liberty of an audience obtained; but the king would not be visible until about two o'clock in the afternoon, and the sentence was to be executed at Avellino, at five o'clock, the same day. 'No matter; God can do everything. Already, against all human expectation, the pardon is obtained.

Legal forms are to be filled up; but if a miracle is requisite to have it arrive before the execution, St. Philomena is at hand to work it. It is impossible not to remark here the attention of God to exalt the glory of his servant. He permitted new and almost insurmountable difficulties to arise; for, in place of expediting at once the pardon, full two hours were suffered to elapse, and four o'clock struck (there remained, then, but one hour before the time when the execution should take place), when the king recollected the pardon, and that it bad not been dispatched. A new obstacle arose; he had to see the petition; it could not be found. He wishes to remember even the names of the three criminals, for the pardon bad been solicited and granted for the three; but notwithstanding all his efforts, be could only bring to mind one name, and that was Pellegrino Ruocco. At once, witbout any other formality, he orders one of his officers to carry to the telegraph the expression of the royal will ; but the forgetting the names causing the forgetting the persons of the others, Pellegrino Ruocco is the only one of whom he recollects to announce the pardon. It was time for it to arrive. Already in Avellino all was in motion for the execution of the sentence; the criminals, taken from their prison, were advancing toward the place of execution, and were arriving at it the moment that the telegraphic dispatch appeared. It was an order from the king; the expression of the order was not clear. It bears but one word: "Let it be suspended." The director of the observatory fluctuates in irresolution. However, the announcement concerns the condemned, and there is not a moment to lose. He leaves a person in his stead; he goes to the place of execution, and in the king's name he commands a delay. The thing was so extraordinary that the officer of justice felt great difficulty in acting in accordance with this order, and they were discussing the matter with warmth, when the person left at the telegraph ran to them, and brought in clear and precise terms the entire pardon. Pellegrino is pardoned -- he alone. He had interested in his favor the powerful St. Philomena. The unhappy man was already upon the ladder; he was informed of his good fortune; he fell down, overpowered with joy. He soon recovered; liberty, honor, life are restored to him, all of which he owes to his bountiful protectress. My God, what cannot your goodness do! And in us, Christians, what may not the faith do which you have given us! We shall give some new examples.

In the month of October, 1832, a violent tempest arose on the Adriatic Sea, and two fishing barks were wrecking in the very sight of port. As soon as the news ran through the town of Viesta, crowds flew to the sea-shore. The sight was terrific. Vain efforts were made to convey succor to the wretched mariners; the fury of the sea allowed none to reach them; they called, they cried out, their cries rent the hearts of those that heard them, and they answer them only by fruitless wishes, sighs, and lamentations. But the recollection of St. Philomena suddenly occurs, and revives hope in the despairing people. St. Philomena can do everything with God; she will save from death the unfortunate that implore her. A cry is immediately heard on all sides; the name of St. Philomena echoes in the clouds; a miracle is wrought. For some moments afterward the wretched fishermen were transported upon the shore without their perceiving it, and, together with their countrymen, they blessed her by whose unseen hand they had been saved from death. The prodigy was not, however, so complete that some fear and bitterness did not remain. The master of one of the barks, named Paul d'Aposto, in looking about, missed his two children, the youngest of whom was but eight years old. The raging billows had cast them far from the port. Some of the people on shore thought they could see them struggling with the waves, but who could give them any relief? She who had just given it with such wonderful success. "St. Philomena, finish your work; save these two poor children!" was the prayer that every heart made, and every mouth expressed. God willed, for the greater glory of his saint, that the same prayer should be made by one of the little unfortunates; it was the youngest, who, remembering in the midst of his danger the miraculous statue of St. Philomena placed in the church of the Capuchins, had recourse to her with confidence. "O new Virgin," cried he, "who art lately come to the Capuchins of Viesta, save us ; have pity on us." And while he struggled beside his brother against the waves, while his father was grieving on the shore, and the people, animated with a living confidence, persevered in their supplications to the saint, behold the children are saved; they come out of the midst of the foaming sea, and are safe in the port. The miracles wrought by the goodness of the Lord, and the power of his glorified servant, are proclaimed in acclamations of gratitude and joy.

Statue de Sainte Philomène dans la Collégiale Saint-Émilion à Saint-Émilion (Gironde, France).


CHAPTER VI.

EXAMPLES OF A JUST SEVERITY EXERCISED BY SAINT PHILOMENA AGAINST THE IMPIOUS.

A MAN and his wife, who lived at Montemarano, seeing themselves without posterity, had recourse to St. Philomena, and promised her if she obtained for them a daughter, to give it in baptism the name of Philomena, and to carry it immediately to Mugnano, there to return thanks to the saint. Their request was granted, and the first condition fulfilled; but as for the second, in spite of all her husband could say, his wife would never consent to it. Two years had passed away; the infant was handsome and amiable, and her parents idolized her; but, my God! what a disaster did their infidelity prepare for them! The report is circulated at Montemarano that there is to be a solemn fete in honor of St. Philomena at Castelvetere, a town a little distance off, and the mother immediately said to her husband that she would bring there the little Philomena, in order to accomplish, her vow. He answered that such was not the promise. "It is to Mugnano," said he, "not to Castelvetere, that you should bring the child." "Folly," replied his wife, "as if there was any difference between St. Philomena here and at Mugnano! Let us go . . ." She went there, and did not return home until evening, thinking she had payed her debt. Heaven judged otherwise, for the very same evening, at the moment that the little child, full of health, preparatory to going to bed, had kissed its parents, and called them in its own little language, they saw it expire in their arms. It is useless to trace here their sorrow and their grief. They proceeded at last, but too late, to Mugnano, where they related the tragical event. "It is," said they, "certainly our fault. This last but terrible blow had been preceded by many warnings, and even temporal pains, from which we were delivered by renewing our vow. We deferred, however, continually, and the patience of the Lord gave way to his justice. Oh, may he be satisfied with this afflicting chastisement!"

A rich man, who had likewise failed to fulfill his obligations, was punished in a terrible manner. He suffered from a cancer, which extended over his face, and had taken away a part of his nose. As soon as the blessed relics had arrived at Mugnano, he went to pray and bemoan his condition before them, promising, if he obtained his cure, to give to the saint one of the houses that he had. The miracle took place at the end of some days, during which he anointed often the diseased part with the oil of the lamp that burned before the shrine; not only the sore, but also the shocking deformity which was the consequence of it, totally disappeared; "and let us admire," says the author, an eye-witness of the fact, "this prodigy, doubly miraculous, inasmuch as the cure contained a sort of creation." Every one expected the speedy fulfillment of the promise. The cured man, alone, thought of it no longer. At that period the chapel was building; its accomplishment would, therefore, have come in a seasonable time. Several persons put him in mind of his engagement; they even entreated his wife; but both answered coldly that it would be time enough after their death. . . . It appears that God took them at their word; bankruptcy came upon them, grief soon killed the wife, and her husband, reduced to the greatest wretchedness, and obliged to pay to one of his creditors rent for one of his own houses, became attacked again with the cancer, and it eat away his entire face, and shortly after deprived him of life. Happy for him if, before his death, he acknowledged his fault!

During several years a lawsuit was carried on between two noblemen who lived at Naples, and a village composed of poor farmers. The cause of the latter being the best, justice inclined in their favor, and they acknowledged that they owed this success more to the protection of St. Philomena than to the goodness of their cause. The final sentence was, however, not yet pronounced, and the two nobles, who were brothers, by the interest they possessed, and the springs they set in motion, were so far successful that the suit was decided in their favor. The news was almost, instantly carried to the little village, and spread consternation and mourning throughout it. The suit had already impoverished its inhabitants, and the loss of it deprived them of the necessary resources. What were they to do? If all hope from man was extinguished, they had still St. Philomena to look to; they laid before her, in tears, their case and their hopes. The noblemen heard of it, but, supported by the world's power, they laughed at the simplicity of the villagers. "We shall see," said they to some of them, "what St. Philomena will do for you. Wait until we go to you, and you will tell us what she has availed you." Among the villagers there was a woman who had been particularly favored by St. Philomena; at these impious expressions she felt greatly hurt, and, transported with zeal, she exclaimed, "Gentlemen, do not outrage her whom you call our saint; she is more powerful than you; and woe to him who dares to provoke her wrath!" " What then will she do to us?" said they, laughingly. "What will she do to you? She could undoubtedly deprive you of life even before you set your foot in the village." To this they replied with laughter and expressions of contempt. The journey to the village was decided upon, and they departed like two vultures, about to pounce unerringly upon their prey. On the way they met several of the villagers, with whom their malice led them to be merry at the expense of St. Philomena. "Very well, very well," answered some of the villagers, "justice is on our side, interest and intrigue on yours. What could we do, after the loss of our cause, but to have recourse to our advocate? Beware of insulting her; she is as much above us as she is terrible in her vengeance."

Others, in terms more bold and clear merely said, "Gentlemen, no boasting; who knows whether you will arrive alive in the village?" These last words were repeated by several successively, who had neither heard nor seen each other, and were the foreboding of an approaching catastrophe; they were, however, replied to by laughter and mocking. There now remained but one village to pass before reaching the journey's end. The carriage was near being overturned at approaching this place, at which one of the brothers said to the other, "What a danger we have just escaped! I do not know what might have happened if the carriage had not recovered its balance." The driver heard the observation, but he to whom it was addressed answered nothing. The speaker, whom fear had seized, immediately felt his heart beat in an extraordinary manner, so that he became too bad to proceed farther, and was obliged to stop at the village to take some rest. In a short time he was a corpse, though but a few hours before enjoying vigorous health. This terrible blow made a strong impression on the second, who was of a stouter constitution than his brother; but who can resist the avenging sword that arms the saints? He likewise, an instant after, fell a victim to the same hand, as he was guilty of the same impiety, and the same blasphemies. Thus were realized the prophetic threats of the oppressed villagers. They had, notwithstanding, their hearts so good, that, dissembling the injustice of these unhappy men against them, after their death they spoke advantageously of their other qualities. "I saw many of them," says Don Francis," come to Mugnano, to recommend the two deceased to the prayers of St. Philomena."

The following remarkable example of the punishment of impiety will conclude for the present the account of the miracles wrought through the power that God has been pleased, in His mercy, to communicate to the blessed St. Philomena: --

In a certain neighborhood there lived a very rich and powerful man, who only used his wealth and interest to harass and persecute every one about him. There was no one who had not to complain of his wickedness; and against every effort that had been made to reduce, by kindness or force, this little tyrant to his duty, he always found means to succeed. St. Philomena had just wrought in the same place a miracle, of which all the people and a great number of strangers had been witness. This man conld not be witness himself, on account of his absence at the time it took place. When he returned, he heard the account; but he instantly exclaimed, "A lie! an imposture!" One might have called him a serpent spitting his venom. "Well," said the victims of his injustice, in the simplicity of their faith, "he now attacks the saint; we are indeed avenged;" and the report spread, somehow or other, that the unfortunate man would not see the fete of St. Philomena. The people all repeated it with one voice. The thing happened, in fact, according to the prediction: he died suddenly, "and his death, which took place before the fete" says our author, "bore visible and striking marks of a chastisement from Heaven. But it is not requisite to render them public."

Sainte Philomène dans l'église Saint-Sulpice d'Heudicourt (Eure).


CHAPTER VII.

PRACTICES OF DEVOTION IN HONOR OF ST. PHILOMENA.

The most solid practice, and, perhaps, the least used, of our devotion toward the saints, is that of which St. Augustin speaks. "Every time we honor the martys," says he, "let us not confine ourselves to asking, through their intercession, temporal benefits; but let us, by imitating their virtues, render ourselves worthy the enjoyment of eternal good. They are truly martyrs who endeavor to follow the martyrs' steps; for, could we, in truth, celebrate the glory of their martyrdom, without feeling ourselves urged to suffer like them? But, alas! we wish to share in their joy, without sharing in their sufferings; and by this means we shall see ourselves excluded from their happiness." * These words show us sufficiently the principal intention of the Lord and of His Church, in the worship we do to the saints; an intention clearly expressed in these terms by the eighth General Council, held at Nice: Ut nos sanctitudinis eorum fiamus participes; that is to say, that we should implore the intercession of the most pure and ever Virgin Mary, of the angels and of the saints; that we should salute and venerate the relics of the saints, in order to render us sharers in their holiness and virtues.

* Sermon xlvii., on the Saints.

Are we, then, anxious to interest particularly St. Philomena in our cause? Let us meditate on her life; let us contemplate her sufferings; let us reflect on the heroism of her death; and, applying to our state the virtues which have appeared to us the most important in her, let us take courage and extirpate from our hearts the vices or defects opposed to those virtues; let us strengthen, let us perfect the habit of the same virtues, by the purest and most frequent exercise of the acts that they produce.


FIRST CONSIDERATION.

Let me reflect, that St. Philomena lived in the world, and that I live in it too; and what is the vast difference between me and her? She was entirely detached from the world ; I am chained to its maxims, its laws, its impure and ridiculous usages. Am I not bound to it by some affection that the Gospel has reproved? Am I not anxious to please worldlings -- to acquire their esteem? Do not my desires impetuously spring towards the seductive and dangerous pleasures which I see displayed by the vanity of the world? Ah! let us quit these bonds; let us abandon these reflections; let us extinguish these desires, let us aspire to more lasting consolation. St. Philomena, help me to honor thee: I wish to offer those sacrifices to God.

SECOND CONSIDERATION.

St. Philomena lived in the midst of the world; I have the happiness of being removed from it. A thousand means of sanctification, which I have, and of which she was deprived, render to me more easy the practice of virtue and the shunning of vice. But what does my conscience tell me here? Where does it place me at these reflections? Can I bear the comparison between myself and the saint? And, as it turns out to my disadvantage, what conclusion am I to draw from it? Ah! Lord, forgive me the abuse of so many graces! Chastise me not, as the wicked and idle servant. I wish to be henceforward faithful and generous, to employ carefully the numberless ways that Thy divine bounty affords to me for making satisfaction.

I take this resolution, O St. Philomena, of imitating your example! Co-operate, I beseech you, by your prayers, in the efforts which I make.

THIRD CONSIDERATION.

St. Philomena made a vow of virginity, and thus she annihilated the pleasures of the flesh and hopes that flatter. The vow absorbed, as it were, all her earthly futurity; it stripped of its brightest jewel the royal crown that was destined for her. "But what matters it?" said she to herself; "the whole world is nothing compared to the value of one degree of perfection that I shall give to my soul. It is better to belong entirely to God, than to divide our thoughts, our cares, between Him and creatures: there is more wisdom in flying from danger than in walking at the side of the abyss." What nobleness in the sentiment! what liveliness of faith! what generosity in such a sacrifice! God calls me, perhaps, on another way. I say, perhaps; have I seriously reflected on it? Ah! if this other way be not the way of the Lord, but only mine! or the way of interest! or that of an affection little in accordance" with the divine will! But, in fine, if I am still a virgin, do I carefully guard this valuable treasure? So many enemies, visible and invisible, endeavor to deprive me of it, or at least to diminish its perfection. Have I made for it a rampart by humility, by modesty, by prayer, and frequenting the sacraments, &c.? If I have formed in the world the sacred union of marriage, have I had for it the respect due to the elevation to which an august sacrament has raised it, &c.? O St. Philomena, watch over me from your height in heaven; watch over the sacred deposit of chastity that belongs to me. For your honor I will redouble my watchfulness, &c., &c.

FOURTH CONSIDERATION.

St. Philomena renounced the most attractive advantages of the world -- she truly comprehended the sense of the words of Solomon, "Vanity of vanities." And not satisfied with comprehending it, she knew how to reduce it to practice, at the most difficult but most glorious moment of her life. My God! what motives for confusion for me, in this admirable announcement! Miserable heart, feel shame that vanity captivates thee, and makes of thee a toy! By sacrificing all, St. Philomena became what she is. By seeking after all, thou hast deprived thyself of the good things which alone deserved thy esteem. Thou believest, perhaps, that the world, though poor as it is, has wherewithal to enrich those who serve it and that its ignominy (for has not God cursed it?) can lead you to true honor; that what it calls pleasures, and what brings to it only bitterness of heart, can bring to you happiness? Foolish being! your error is the more culpable, because it exposes you, with your own consent, to the greatest peril. For, is it not written, that the friends of the world are the enemies of God? because the world, with all it possesses, all it is, affords but only malice. It is, therefore, full time to undeceive ourselves, and to use the world as if we used it not -- that is, to despise all that it esteems, to attach ourselves to nothing that it loves. Forgive, O my God, my past folly! Help me, O St. Philomena, to rectify my judgment, to break off my attachments, and even to consent, cheerfully, to sacrifice every thing, if God should be pleased to demand so much from me.

FIFTH CONSIDERATION

St. Philomena suffered cruel torments for God: she was young, delicate, and descended from kings, which, according to the world, exempted her from any kind of suffering; and she had only to conceal her religion: to do so, no reasons could apparently be more just or more urgent, the motive being nothing less than to protect her parents from the rage of Dioclesian, and to save her own life. But St. Philomena remembered the express declaration of the Lord: "Whosoever does not hate his father, mother, and very life for love of me, cannot be my disciple." She, therefore, practised what she knew, and suffered long and agonizing tortures. What do I think of heroism like hers? have I even the germ of such in my heart? Perhaps my obedience to God is because it now costs nothing to nature or the flesh; hence it is, that as soon as either complain, even against the most essential precepts, I yield, abandoning the practices of piety the most serviceable to my soul, and I imagine for myself fantastic pretexts, which create a delusion, in order to free me from all kind of remorse. And can I believe, that by conducting myself in this manner, I shall come to a happy end? I cannot believe it; such an end is impossible. Our Lord calls those only happy who add practice to knowledge. If I am a Christian, I must appear so; and I can neither be, nor appear to be a Christian, if I do not faithfully follow Jesus Christ, bearing my cross, as he carried His. Let us, then, willingly suffer; let us fulfil our duties, though disagreeable they may be; let us trample on human considerations; let us show ourselves always, and in every place, generous and faithful Christians. I promise to become so, O my God! Grant me, I beseech thee, through the merits of St. Philomena, the grace to accomplish my resolution.

SIXTH CONSIDERATION

St. Philomena remained unshaken under the fiercest tortures, presenting a prodigy of virtue more admirable, more rare, than the former. Many have begun, but many have not persevered to the end. St. Philomena pursued her course to its termination. She had no refiection upon self, no considerations on her family, no hesitation on the brilliant offers the em peror made; she had neither regret, complaint, nor reproach. It was the fiat, "Let it be done," of her Saviour, in the Garden of Olives; it was that which secured forever her election and her vocation. Am I constant to my plans of sanctification, or am I of the number of those who live an hour for God, and a day for the world and for themselves? The Saviour compares them to reeds shaken by the wind, St. Paul declares them to be seized by folly. The Wise Man likens them to the most changing of all the stars: Stultus ut luna mutatur. "If you persevere not," says St. Bernard, ''your combats will not be followed by victory;" and though you were conqueror, the laurel would not decorate your brow. Ah! my Lord, what shall I answer to thy justice? A thousand times have I begun with the spirit, and as often ended with the flesh. At one time I have wished to become virtuous, and at another time I have grown weary of being so. The moment after I have bid adieu to the world, I have stretched out to it again my hand; and almost as soon as I have trampled on its vanities, I have bound myself again in its chains. Deplorable inconstancy! worthless desire! O my God, remove this changeableness of my inclinations, and fickleness of my thoughts! St. Philomena, obtain for me perseverance in good, since that only can save.

SEVENTH CONSIDERATION.

St. Philomena was powerfully aided by God in her combats, and this is a proof of what St. Paul says: " God will proportion his succor to the violence of the temptations, in order that you may resist them." And what was this succor? Jesus himself -- and Jesus in the arms of his mother -- Mary -- the holy angels -- and the Spirit of Strength, which descended into the heart of the youthful Philomena. Thus might she exclaim with David, "The Lord watches over the preservation of my spiritual life; before whom shall I tremble? Though I should see whole legions united to my executioners, I would still hope. My God, you are with me." She could then pass, with fearless courage, through torments, and dare those who inflict them. O St. Philomena, will not God do also for me what he did for you? Am I not his child, like you? Alas! why should I harbor discouraging doubts? Why fear being abandoned? Has not the Spirit of Truth said, "Blessed is the man who suffers temptation?" The same Spirit has put these expressions in the mouth of St. Paul: "I glory in my sufferings ; in putting my fidelity to trial, they fill me with hope, and hope never deceives." Away, then, with these vain and unjust fears! In my tribulations I will call upon my God; in the tempest I will cast in his bosom the sure anchor of unshaken confidence. O holy protectress, strengthen me in these sentiments.

EIGHTH CONSIDERATION.

St Philomena withstood victoriously the attacks made upon her, and it was death upon the field of battle that procured for her eternal blessedness; a crown more glorious than that of all the princes in the world; and palms, such as were never gathered by the greatest conquerors. She overcame shame and suffering; both united in vain their efforts to subdue her. Glory covers her like a garment. Raise thy voice, O illustrious martyr! reproach now thy proud enemies; tell them with the Apostle, "Shame and pain, where now is our victory? what has become of the sting of your arrows, of the sharpness of your swords, of the stamp of disgrace and infamy that you attempted to set on my forehead? I died, and I live; I conquered, and I triumph; I was dragged to the scaffold, and now behold me glorified in heaven." Thus humiliation is the forerunner of glory; the cross is the pledge of happiness. Have I comprehended it? Do I wish to come to the practice of it? Should I have to support the efforts of the most terrible enemies, to engage in a combat of blood, how long could it last? What sort of a fight would it be? Momentaneum et leve, says St. Paul; a moment, a slight contest, almost nothing ; and then, aeterum gloriae pondus; a weight of glory, but a weight the value of which measures an eternity! O my heart, expand thyself at this hope; not only thou shalt be resigned in thy different trials, but thou shalt exult with joy at them. I sow, thou shalt say, but what a lovely harvest do I secure! Sceptres and crowns I shall one day reap. Let my tears flow, since to them is promised so valuable a consolation. Sorrows, avoid me not, as after ye the sweetest joys will come! Let me embrace you, O penance, O mortification, as you are the germ of a glorious resurrection. Yes, I desire to suffer in order to enjoy; I wish to fight, in order to conquer. I wish to humble myself and to be humbled, that my God may exalt me; I wish to die to the world, to sin, to myself, that I may live to God, in God, and with Gofi, for all eternity. St. Philomena, draw me after you, and aid me by your intercession, as you have enlightened and animated me by your example.

NINTH CONSIDERATION.

Saint Philomena appears in the church militant in order to exercise a glorious apostleship. The works of the just perish not. They are seeds that remain buried for a time, but the day comes when they become a tree, crowned with blossoms and fruit: life is their winter of which death terminates the chill, that is succeeded by a sun which will shine through eternity. The voice that will call the just to the enjoyment of heaven, will summon them in these words: "Now the winter is past, the clouds are gone; get up, my friend, and come." The just will spring up at the words, and appear at once among the dwellers of heaven, like "a vine clothed in leaves and fruit ;" like a flower, as lovely in the brilliancy of its color as in the beauty of its shape; and the celestial host, on beholding them, will unanimously proclaim, "A flower has shown itself in our gardens, a new vine sends us its fragrance; come, come, O holy and dearly-beloved soul!" take thy place in the midst of us; and thus it is the Just One "enters into his glory." But this is not enough; the earth, that has sent this present to heaven, will it have no mark of gratitude? It shall, and this mark will be an abundance of new graces, a dew, as it were, of visible and invisible benedictions. Let us look for the evidence of this in St. Philomena. Are not her merits still living, though many ages have passed by? Are they not superabundantly applicable as to astonish the world? What hast thou done, O Philomena, to acquire this glory? "She loved justice and hated iniquity." Her heart, filled with affection for "the law of God," was fed with it night and day; and now, as the tree planted beside the waters, it yields its fruit. Every thing she undertakes is crowned with success. Rejoice, then, O ye just, in the Lord; praise him when you remember the favors he has bestowed on you, and of which you have profited so well. Cannot I form myself after your example, in order to take part one day in your fruitfulness? I will begin, at last, to follow you. I now set about sowing my ground with acts of virtue; and the more the seed is abundant, the greater will be the harvest. Let us draw, then, abundantly out of the treasures of "piety, patience, charity, obedience," and of all Christian virtues. Let us seek only God in our least actions. Let us profit by every grace. Let us amass, let us treasure up, for the church of heaven, and the church on earth. What I do for God, I do for myself, for the angels, for the saints, for the just, for sinners. Let us make haste; let us not lose a moment. Aid me, O St. Philomena, and you also will share in my harvest.

In proposing to our readers the foregoing considerations, we only intended to facilitate the means of obtaining the most beneficial effects from devotion towards the saints. And if any one should desire to see more particularly specified those acts, which the saint seems to suggest, by her virtues and her works, the following detail may help to show what may be advantageously practised in her honor: --

1. To keep a stricter watch over our eyes.

2. To forbid ourselves all useless conversations and visits.

3. To banish all superfluity, all unbecoming manner of dress.

4. To deprive ourselves of every thing that flatters nature and the senses.

5. To cut off every thing unlawful in our affections.

6. To draw somewhat nearer to God by prayer and meditation.

7. To gain some signal victory over human respect.

8. To betake ourselves with more zeal to works of Christiaii charity.

9. To distinguish in our care and affection the poor and children.

10. To imitate the simple in their devotion towards the saints.

A piety, truly enlightened, cannot fail to appreciate these practices; it will add others to them, and will more and more merit the favor of God and of St. Philomena. *

* Quin potius majora his offeratis, et qualia eos decent, qui sanctos rite venerantur, corporis nempe exinanitionem, animae elevationem, pravitatis declinationem, virtutis incrementum. S. Greg. Naz.

Altar with the tombal stones of Saint Philomena – Altare delle pietre tombali. Santuario di Santa Filomena (Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino - Italy)


PRAYERS.

In regard of prayers, we shall also insert some here, which are within the comprehension of all. We shall, however, preface them by the following considerations: "If any person," says the Council of Trent, "has the impiety to teach that we ought not to invoke the saints, who enjoy in heaven eternal beatitude; that they do not pray to God for men ; that to have recourse to their intercession is an idolatry condemned by the law of God, and opposed to the honor of Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man, let him be Anathema. * The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, agreeing in this, both with tradition and the practices of the first Christians, and with the rules established by holy councils, teaches, that on the contrary, the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, offer their prayers to God for men, that it is good and useful to invoke them humbly, and that, in order to obtain graces from God, through Jesus Christ his Son, our Lord, who is alone our Redeemer, and our Saviour, it is advantageous to have recourse to their prayers, to their power, to their intercession." What the mother teaches, the true children have ever practised. Let us hear St. Basil, speaking of the forty martyrs: "Let him, whose soul tribulations plunge into anguish, implore their succor, and let him be imitated by those whose heart is in joy; the first will ask his deliverance, the latter the perpetuity of their happiness. Let us pour our desires and our prayers into the bosoms of the martyrs." And in giving the example himself, lie exclaims, "O holy company! O sacred battalion! O ye common protectors of the human race! you who so willingly share in all our solicitudes; who support, by your suffrages, our prayers and our wishes; you, powerful ambassadors, whom the earth has deputed to God, stars of the universe, flowers of the churches, pray for us."

If we listen to St. Gregory Nazianzen addressing St. Cyprian, we shall hear him speak thus: "Cast upon us, from the height of heaven, a favorable look ; direct our words and our life; unite yourselves to us, to feed and govern these flocks, to defend them against the biting of the wolves." And then, as if to justify the confidence he has in the intercession of the holy martyr, "Cyprian," says he, "is all-powerful; the dust of his bones, that even of his tomb, if we venerate them with faith, enjoy the same power." They who have made the trial with faith, know it by the miracles that have rewarded them.

St. Ephrem, supplicating the martyrs, addresses them in this manner: "O you, who, for your Master and Saviour, faced such torments with such generosity; yon, whom an intimate familiarity unites to the Lord in all things, we beseech you to vouchsafe to intercede with him for our necessary wants and our negligences. Ask for our hearts the grace of Jesus, a ray of his sacred love, which, in enlightening our souls, may make them burn with the fire of the most ardent charity." Let us hear, finally, St. Bernard, opening his soul to the soul of the martyr, Victor: "O hero," he cries out, "who, after having supported the fatigue of the severest combat, now enjoyest the repose and happiness of the angels; look upon these timid, these cowardly brothers in arms, who, finding themselves surrounded by hostile swords, are engaged in singing thy praises! O illustrious conqueror! who hast known how to triumph over earth, and at the same time to conquer heaven, in disdaining with a holy pride the glory of the first, and in offering to the latter a pious violence, cast thy eyes upon us, poor captives, and may our victory, the effect of thy succor, come as a conclusion to thy trophies! What consolation, O Victor! what sweetness, what delight, in honoring thee, in singing to thee, in praying to thee, in this place of affliction, in this body of death. Thy name, thy remembrance, are a honey-comb that melts upon my lips. Come, then, courageous combatant, amiable protector, faithful advocate; arise to succor us; thy succor will be to us a happiness, and to thyself a new glory."

Such were the prayers of the saints to other saints; why should poor sinners like us not imitate their example? Is it because we have been and that we are still in the bonds of sin? "No, no," cries out to us St. Ambrose, a faithful echo of the doctrine of Jesus Christ; "if the fever of sin devours you, do not fail to have recourse to the saints. Ally yourselves by prayer with the apostles, the martyrs, the angels themselves, and the Divine mercy will draw near to you. A heart enslaved to sin can certainly do less than the heart of the just man, to obtain for itself, by prayer, the graces that it requires but it has intercessors with the heavenly Physician, who make up for this deficiency. Pray, therefore, to the holy angels; pray to the holy martyrs; be not ashamed to employ, in aid of your own weakness, those who have perhaps had to wash away weakness in their blood; pray to them; they can pray for your sins." *

* In libro de Viduis.

This is what we are going to do, in depositing at the feet and in the heart of St. Philomena our prayers and our desires. Amongst the most usual practices in Italy, are novenas or nine days' prayers, and tridui or three days' prayers, which are celebrated with much external grandeur, and great devotion. Generally, for the latter, the august Sacrament was exposed, at least during the entire exercise appointed in honor of the saint; for our Lord Jesus Christ loves to unite with his churct in the triumph of his elect. In the morning, they had a solemn mass; in the evening, the grand salutation, * after the panegyric of St. Philomena. The altar, where was placed the picture of the saint, with a relic, was richly adorned, and lighted with a great number of wax candles; and towards it, during almost every hour of the day, a multitude of the faithful were seen pressing their way. Some offered to God, by the hands of their advocate, only the prayer of the heart; others recited, with faith and humility, their beads; several read, with recollected devotion, the little book containing the novena of St. Philomena.

* Prayers sung by the choir in the evening after the office, and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

The heart, particularly in matters connected with prayer, desires a holy liberty. God comprehends all languages. We know, however, that he prefers a fervent briefness to long prayers which do not animate true devotion. It would be perhaps better to let each one determine the time and the form of his prayers; but, as we do not pretend to impose laws upon any, one, it may be permitted us to trace out a little plan, which people may adopt if they wish, in performing either the three days' prayers, or the novena, in honor of St. Philomena.

1st. Ornament as well as you can a little oratory, and place in it an image or relic of the saint; both, if you have them.

2dly. During this time, keep, if you can, a lamp continually lighted, before the image or relic. This will be, as it were, a mark of your devotion, and of your confidence in the saint; your heart, of which it will be the symbol, will animate it with the breath of a living faith. More than one miracle has been wrought by means of the oil of these lamps.

3dly. If you perform two exercises during the day, you will be able, during the first, to meditate on some one of the virtues and miracles of St. Philomena; and you will draw from them conclusions to be practised for the amendment of your heart and life. You will conclude it by reciting the litany of the ever blessed Virgin, and repeat thrice the two verses, Regina martyrum, Regina Virginum, ora pro nobis. You will add, at the end, "Pray for us, O St. Philomena! that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."


Verrière "Ste-Philomène" (Ott Frères, 1920), Église Saint-Denis Limersheim,  Alsace, Bas-Rhin, (IA00023350).

PRAYER.

Grant, O Lord, I beseech thee, that the Virgin and Martyr, St. Philomena, may solicit thy mercy for us. I implore her intercession, through the merits of her chastity, and by the glory that she gave to thy power, in dying for thee. I beseech thee, O my God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee eternally, in unity with the Holy Ghost. Amen.

In the second exercise, which will be perhaps sufficient for a great number of persons, who are too much occupied to perform two, there may be read, at first, some pages of this little book, which may be reflected on for some moments; and the conclusion may be made by the following prayer:--


PRAYER TO ST. PHILOMENA.

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, who vouchsafest from heaven, where yon are, to pour down so great a number of benefits npon the earth, I bless the Lord for the graces he bestowed on yon during your life, and above all, at your death; I glorify him and praise him for the honor and the power with which he crowns you today.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, whose faith triumphed over all the attacks of the world and of hell, I bless God for your triumphs; I praise him and I give him glory for the victorious strength he communicated to you.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, who did prefer to the visible goods of this world, the invisible but measureless treasures of a blessed eternity, I bless God for the firm hope that he put in your heart; I praise him and glorify him for the victory which he caused you to gain over the tempter and over yourself.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, the raging waters of tribulation that rolled over you, were unable to extinguish the charity that consumed your soul; I bless God for the constancy he gave you; I praise him and I give him glory for this noble ardor, that made you devour, as it were, so many sufferings.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, whose powerful arm fights this day for the church upon earth, I bless God for the choice by which he has honored you: I praise him and I glorify him for the numberless wonders of which he makes you the agent, and of which the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church gathers the fruits.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, I rejoice at your glory; I am filled with gladness at seeing the glory you render to God, particularly by the miracles wrought in favor of the poor and simple: I pray the Divine Majesty to make known your name more and more, to show forth your power, and to multiply the number of your devoted servants.

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

O faithful Virgin and glorious Martyr, have compassion on me; exercise upon my soul and upon my body the ministry of salvation, of which God has judged you worthy; you know better than I the multitude and variety of my wants; behold me at your feet, full of poverty and hope; I solicit your charity, O great Saint! hear me graciously; bless me; vouchsafe to render agreeable to my God, the humble petition which I present to you (here one may specify the favor they desire to oltain from the saint). Yes, I have the firm hope, that through your merits, through your ignominy, through your death, united to the merits of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, I shall obtain what I ask of you, and I will say, in the joy of my heart,

Blessed be thou, O holy God! O God, adorable in thy saints! O just God! O powerful God!O God of infinite mercy!

Pater and Ave for the Pope and for the necessities of the church.

Statue de sainte Philomène. Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Nativité. Lain (Yonne, France) 


ANOTHER NOVENA TO SAINT PHILOMENA.

FIRST DAY.

Consider that Saint Philomena was a virgin and always pure, in tlie midst of the world, in spite of persecution even to death. What a model! Can I contemplate it without feeling humbled? and knowing the cause of my confusion, what should be the remedy?

Practice. -- 1st. Hear the holy mass in her honor, and visit one of her statues or images, if such can be done conveniently. 2d. Humble yourself several times, for whatever, in the course of your life, may have tarnished the purity of your soul.

* This Novena is usually made from the 1st to the 10th of August, which is the day of the martyrdom and translation of the Saint ; but it may be said at any other time.

SECOND DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena was constantly pure and innocent, because she knew how to mortify her inclinations, and to observe in all her deportment the modesty of Jesus Christ, to keep away from a perverse world, and from dangerous occasions. Do you imitate her in this holy vigilance?

Practice. -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Avoid what has injured you; practise what you have neglected, and what will preserve you always pure and agreeable in the eyes of the Lord.

THIRD DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena preserved and increased her love of perfect purity by means of prayer, the abundant source of spiritual life; by the sacraments, wherein the soul is purified in the blood of Jesus Christ, and is nourished with his sacred body, the divine germ of Christian virginity; by the recollection that her members belonged to Jesus Christ, and that her body was the temple of the Holy Ghost. Have not you the same means? What use do you make of them?

Practice, -- Ist. As on the first day. 2d. Recite all your prayers with increased fervor; say to yourself, from time to time: I belong to Jesus Christ, I am the temple of the Holy Ghost.

FOURTH DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena was a martyr, that she had to suffer -- to suffer a great deal, even death itself; and that she displayed in her torments, invincible patience. Do you suffer with the like patience? You have, perhaps, but seldom to suffer; and are never in danger of death from suffering. Whence comes so much weakness? What means will you take to acquire patience?

Practice, -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Suffer patiently the few afflictions, contradictions, and trials, with which the Lord may please to visit you on this day.

FIFTH DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena suffered martyrdom for Jesus Christ : endeavors were made to deprive her of faith, to make her violate her baptismal vows, to induce her to follow the example of idolaters or apostates. And do not the devil, the world, the flesh, and your own heart endeavor to lead you into the like sins?

Do not imprudent fears make yon fail in your duties, and violate your sacred engagements? What shameful pusillanimity! Let us resume, at length, courage to perform our duty to God.

Practice. -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Ob- tain some victory over mere human respect: say to yourself. It is better to please God than men.

SIXTH DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena had to put in practice this word of our Saviour: "He who does not hate his very life for sake of me, cannot be my disciple." She hesitated not to sacrifice all, her very life, for the love of Christ. In occasions far less difficult, do we show ourselves worthy of Jesus Christ? If there be a competition between God and man, between grace and nature, between the love of God and human affections, to which do we give the preference? Oh, let us never more degenerate from our dignity of children of God, and of disciples? of Jesus Christ.

Practice. -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Endeavor to please only God, or creatures for God alone. Remove far from you every inordinate affection.

SEVENTH DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena in her martyrdom had to suffer raillery, sarcasm, outrages, and such like painful treatment, from her persecutors, from her executioners, and from the greater part of the spectators of her cruel sufferings: she was not, however, the less generous, the less constant, or less joyful in the public confession of her faith. Should the world give you to drink of the cup of affliction, will you have the courage to drink of it with simi- lar sentiments? But what signify contempt, disdain, and even persecutions the most unjust and bloody? Can he whom God esteems, can he ever be, or can he ever think himself dishonored? Fear not, O Christian heart; continue your journey, which will end in eternal glory.

Practice. -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Do not let your heart be disturbed, if there be said today any sharp, rude, or offensive word, &c.

EIGHT DAY.

Consider that St. Philomena, by dying, for our Lord Jesus Christ, to all things here on earth, entered into the joy of eternal life. "Yes, I am certain," she would say, in her heart, "that the Sovereign Judge will render unto me, for the perishable goods which I sacrifice to his love, the crown of justice he has promised me." She dies, and forthwith this worthy spouse of Jesus Christ shines in the tabernacle of God, with those who accompany the Lamb. Are. these the thoughts which I entertain when there is question of making any sacrifice for God? "What impression do they make upon my heart? To what side do they make it incline? The saint says. To have all, let us lose all. What do I say?

Practice, -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Impose upon yourself some voluntary sacrifice. Perform with promptitude, and with a good heart, all the duties belonging to your condition of life.

NINTH DAY.

Consider that St, Philomena, for having sacrificed every thing here on earth for Jesus Christ, receives from him, even in this world, more than a hundred-fold. How great is her renown, how powerful her intercession! how numerous the supplications made through her to the throne of mercy! What devout veneration is paid to her statues and pictures, and what zealous anxiety to obtain her relics! It is thus that God accomplishes his promises. Oh, that we would fulfil, with equal fidelity, the promises we have made to God! But by our infidelity to God, we deprive ourselves of much merit and of many favors, both for this life and for the next. Let us take courage. Let us be faithful to God, and thus be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Practice. -- 1st. As on the first day. 2d. Do today some work of mercy in honor of St. Philomena. Trepare yourself, by a good confession, to receive worthily our Lord Jesus Christ.

Statue Ste Philomène, église Saint-Pierre, Liettres (Pas-de-Calais)


A PRAYER IN HONOR OF ST. PHILOMENA FOR EACH DAY OF THE NOVENA.

Glorious Virgin and Martyr, beloved of God, blessed Philomena, I heartily rejoice and give God thanks, that he has given you so much power, for the glory of his name, for the edification of his church, and to honor the merits of your life and of your death. I am happy to see you so great, so pure, so generous, so faithful to Jesus Christ, and to the precepts and counsels of his gospel, and so highly rewarded both in heaven and on earth. Attracted by your example to the practice of sterling virtues, full of hopes at the view of the rewards bestowed upon your merits, I purpose to follow you in the avoidance of all evil, and in the fulfilment of God's commandments. Assist me, O glorious saint, by your powerful intercession, and obtain especially for me, a perfect purity, a fortitude invincible in all sorts of attacks, a generosity which refuses not to God any thing whatsoever, and a love, stronger than death, for the faith of Jesus Christ, a ready and willing obedience to the holy Roman Catholic Church, and to our Sovereign Pontiff, the common father of all the faithful, the pastor of pastors and of their flocks, and vicegerent of Jesus Christ throughout the universe.

To these favors which I have now asked through your intercession, blessed Philomena, I also ask other new graces, which I have the fullest confidence to obtain through your powerful intercession. (Here declare those graces to the saint with simplicity, confidence, and humility.) Surely God, who is so good, and for whom you have given up your life; God, who is so good, and who has bestowed so many gifts and favors, both upon you, and through you; this God, who is so good as to have died for me, and to give himself to me in the eucharistic form, surely he will not refuse to attend graciously to your prayers, to my entreaties, and even to that necessity, which he himself, in some sort, feels to do us good. Thus, I hope; I put all my confidence in God and in you. Amen.

O Jesus, grant me grace to love thee, and to make others love thee. O Mary, my tender mother, obtain for us a great love for Jesus Christ.

PRAYERS

To implore her powerful protection in the tribulations, the temptations, and in all the necessities of life.

O MOST blessed St. Philomena! the Thaumaturga of our age, behold me prostrate before that throne, upon which the most adorable Trinity has placed and crowned you with the double crown of virginity and martyrdom. I raise my hands in supplication to yon. What a glorious spectacle in constancy and strength did yon not present, before heaven, and to earth, to angels and men, at the time that the tyrants of the world persecuted the sheep of the Savionr, and deluged the church with their blood! The heavy anchor tied to your neck, even the waters into which yon were cast, shook not for an instant the fidelity yon had sworn to your heavenly Sponse. The merciless hand of the executioner rending, with its murderous lash, your virginal flesh, from which your pure blood gushed forth, extorted from you neither a tear nor a sigh. The arrows, the chains, the sword that perfected your sacrifice, and placed your sweet soul in the possession of glory, were unable to abate, even for a moment, the ardor of your generous heart, for your Divine Lover. Now, the Lord, in recompense of your anguish for the glory of that lily that you preserved inviolate, amidst the thorns of the world, and to the confusion of this corrupted age, has vouchsafed to glorify you, by the power of your intercession. From the east to the west, from the north to the south, the fame of your wonders is heard; the people crowd to seek refuge under the wings of your protection.

It is therefore to you, O illustrious martyr, it is to you that I have recourse; I stretch out to you my suppliant hands. Ah! from the height of the celestial country, vouchsafe to cast a look upon me, your humble servant. O pure virgin! O holy martyr, Philomena, comfort me in my afflictions; strengthen me in temptations; preserve me in persecutions; aid me in all dangers; but above all, aid me at the terrible hour of death, when I shall have to fight with all the powers of hell, and when a dreadful moment shall decide my eternity. In these days of darkness protect the church, which the impious attack with open force; baffle the designs of the wicked, and maintain the faithful in the unity of the Catholic Church, Amen.

FOR MONDAY,

Most pure virgin, most faithful disciple of the Gospel, and invincible martyr of Jesus Christ, whom God adorned with so many graces, with purity; who were enriched with so lively a faith, and such singular force, in the very midst of an infidel and corrupted world, and particularly at Rome, at that time the centre of idolatry, of tyranny, of infernal superstition, and the school of the most enormous vices; O blessed Philomena, who at this pagan and corrupted head of the world, preserved for yourself an unshaken faith and inviolable purity to your last breath, sacrificing to your Spouse, in the most painful sufferings, your life, we beseech you, by the distinction of your merits, to obtain for us, at the merciful throne of our heavenly Father, the gift of perseverance in faith, of purity of mind and body, and a holy death in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

FOR TUESDAY.

O courageous martyr and most faithful virgin of Jesus Christ! to preserve unsullied the treasure of purity and of faith in your God, you suffered yourself to be cast, with an anchor tied to your neck, into the waters of the Tiber, from which your heavenly Spouse delivered you unhurt; we claim your intercession, to the end, that in the midst of the waters of bitterness, of anxieties, and of tribulations, which unceasingly surround us, we may be supported with strength, and preserved from the shipwreck of our sins, and from the death of our souls ; and that we may not be sunk by the waters of temptation. Amen.

FOR WEDNESDAY.

O beloved spouse and fearless martyr of Jesus Christ! to preserve your virginity, your heroic faith made you endure with constancy, ignominious sufferings in the presence of a great number of vicious pagans, in the streets of idolatrous Rome. Besides, for the glory of virginity, and of the evangelical doctrine, you renounced the pleasures of the flesh, the de- lights and pomp of the world, and even the life of your chaste body. You suffered also the cruel scourging with iron-loaded lashes, which, in covering you with wounds, made you resemble that Jesus whom you so ardently loved. Alas! we confess ourselves wretched sinners, sensual and delicate worldlings; obtain for us the strength to enable us to live far removed from the mire of sin, and to die with courage, like you, in the faith of the Roman Church, though to do so should cost us suffering, disgrace, and even life itself. Amen.

FOR THURSDAY.

O courageous Virgin! who, with a supernatural joy and invincible force, thrice sacrificed your virginal body, in order to persevere in the doctrine of Christ, and defended heroically your virginity and faith; who esteemed yourself happy to be three times pierced with darts; who received as many palms and crowns as your body did wounds, for your heavenly Spouse, pray for us, who observe so indifferently the law of God; obtain for us the strength necessary to come to eternal salvation, to the end that we may bear with resignation the pains, the sorrows of this life, and that we may resist all the attacks of hell. Amen.

FOR FRIDAY.

Illustrious martyr, and glorious spouse of Jesus Christ, who, being God and Saviour, permitted you not to be overcome, but having designed for vou a distinguishing crown, prolonged your life, which, multiplying your sufferings, afforded the means of adding to your laurels and triumphs, and rendered you more admirable in the eyes of the celestial spirits, and more exalted amongst the glorious martyrs. By the divine counsel you were loaded anew with chains, and carried before the tribunal of the tyrants of Rome; your angelic purity and holy faith were put to new trials, and your barbarous enemies, despairing of conquering the heroic firmness of your heart, condemned you to be beheaded -- your final suffering, which, by filling up the measure of your merits, introduced you triumphant and glorious into the kingdom of your Spouse. Amen.

FOR SATURDAY.

We beseech you, O great saint, to cast upon us a look of charity. Vouchsafe to show us, by some mark of your goodness, that our humble homage has been grateful to you. Obtain for us the graces we desire for our salvation, as well as those which you see we require, in order to be delivered from the eternal death we have so often deserved. Gramt that, in this hope, we may be freed from all troubles, that is, that your sweet charity may animate and console us. We bless with our whole heart, and with the most profound adoration, the most Holy Trinity, for having loaded you with so many benedictions on earth, for having adorned you with so much purity, with faith and with strength, for having exalted you to such high sanctity, and for having supported you in the midst of your enemies, and of such horrible sufferings, and conducted you in triumph to glory in heaven. We give thanks to the most pure Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Martyrs, who, like a tender mother, comforted you by her powerful protection in the midst of your torments. We hope, O holy martyr, that you yourself will protect us, now that we honor your merits and your glorious triumph. Amen,


Statue Ste Philomène, Église Saint-Rémi d'Aouste


LITANY IN HONOR OF SAINT PHILOMENA

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on ns.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear ns.

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, have mercy on us.


Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, { Response: pray for us. }

St. Philomena, child of benediction,

St. Philomena, who wast the daughter of light,

St. Philomena, who from thy childhood chose Jesus Christ for thy spouse,

St. Philomena, who despisedst, with heroical courage, the greatest honors, in order to continue faithful to Jesus Christ,

St. Philomena, whose faith and love for Jesus Christ promises and threats could not change,

St. Philomena, whose constancy, neither the entreaties of a father, nor the tenderness of a mother could diminish,

St. Philomena, who, for thy great love of God in sufferings, deservedst to be consoled by Jesus and Mary,

St. Philomena, whose eagerness to endure new torments daily increased,

St. Philomena, whom God intrusted to the guardianship of angels, and who, by their aid, many times overcamest the fury of thy persecutors,

St. Philomena, whose glory God has been pleased to manifest by continual miracles,

St. Philomena, who sufferedst many kinds of martyrdom in the various torments thou hadst to endure,

St. Philomena, whose example attracted many to the faith,

St. Philomena, who, like Jesus, wast bound to a pillar and scourged,

St. Philomena, perfect model of Christian virgins,

St. Philomena, who protectest in a particular manner those who honor thee,

St. Philomena, whom the church honors and reveres as an illustrious virgin and martyr of Jesus Christ,

St. Philomena, who enjoyest a neverending glory,

Lamb of God, who bearest away the sins of the world, forgive us, O Lord. Lamb of God, who bearest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord. Lamb of God, who bearest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord.

PRAYER.

O glorious virgin and martyr, whose glory God has been pleased to make known by singular miracles, we address ourselves to thee with entire confidence. Obtain for us, that, by thy example, we may fight courageously against whatever is opposed to the reign of Jesus Christ in our hearts; that we may adorn them with virtue like thine, with that angelical purity, of which thou art a perfect model; and that, inflamed with the love of Jesus, we may continually walk in the way which he has marked out, to the end that we may one day partake of thy everlasting happiness, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God, in perfect Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.

THE END.

Electronic Book edited and typographically corrected for SaintsBooks.net

SOURCE : http://www.saintsbooks.net/books/Anonymous%20-%20The%20Life%20and%20Miracles%20of%20St.%20Philomena.html

Saint Philomena by J.D. Mahlknecht plaster cast by the author in the Museum Gherdëina in Urtijëi Italy


Santa Filomena di Roma Vergine e martire

11 agosto

III secolo

Il 25 maggio 1802 fu ritrovato nelle Catacombe di Priscilla, sulla Via Salaria a Roma, il corpo di santa Filomena. Monsignor Giacinto Ponzetti, Custode delle Sacre Reliquie, presente all’apertura della tomba, testimoniò trattarsi del corpo appartenente ad una fanciulla di nome Filomena. Monsignor Bartolomeo De Cesare Vescovo di Potenza, amico di don Francesco De Lucia, sacerdote della diocesi di Nola, acquistò le Reliquie del Corpo di santa Filomena per don Francesco. Dopo l’ordinazione episcopale di monsignor De Cesare, lasciata Roma con il suo amico, don Francesco portò a Mugnano del Cardinale le Reliquie della Santa; esse furono collocate in un’urna nella cappella centrale a sinistra nella Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. Nel 1833 fu data alle stampe la «Pia Rivelazione» della mistica Serva di Dio Suor Maria Luisa di Gesù, la quale affermava di aver ricevuto da santa Filomena la visione relativa alla Sua vita e alle circostanze del suo martirio. Il nome della santa non entrò mai nel Martirologio Romano, cosa comune a tutti i Corpi Santi, e nel 1961 per decisione della Sacra Congragazione dei Riti la espuntò dal Messale Romano, nel quale compariva nell'appendice "per alcuni luoghi". Dunque già nell'edizione del 1962, quella definita da Benedetto XVI quale forma extra-ordinaria del Rito Romano, Santa Filomena non compariva più. Il suo culto resta però vivo in molti luoghi.

Etimologia: Filomena = amata, dal greco

Emblema: Palma, Ancora

Un corpo estratto dalle catacombe di Priscilla

Due ancore, tre frecce, una palma e un fiore erano i simboli raffigurati sui tre mattoni tombali posti a chiusura del sepolcro rinvenuto nelle catacombe di Priscilla a Roma il 25 maggio 1802. Sulle tegole tombali è riportata la scritta, dipinta in minio rosso: «LVMENA - PAX TE - CVM FI» che, riordinata, formava la scritta «Pax tecum Filumena». Gli archeologi ritennero che si trattasse di un corpo di nome proprio: Filomena. Nella tomba, insieme ai resti, fu ritrovata un’ampolla con un liquido scuro essiccato, interpretato come sangue di una martire.

Don Francesco De Lucia e la traslazione a Mugnano del Cardinale

Don Francesco De Lucia, sacerdote della Diocesi di Nola, tramite la mediazione di monsignor Bartolomeo De Cesare, Vescovo eletto di Potenza, ottenne il Corpo della Santa da monsignor Giacinto Ponzetti, custode delle sacre reliquie dei santi martiri e dei sacri cimiteri di Roma.

De Lucia desiderava infatti avere i resti di un santo martire “di nome proprio” per il proprio oratorio o cappella.

Le Sacre Reliquie furono trasportate prima a Napoli e poi a Mugnano del Cardinale, ma non vennero più collocate nell’oratorio di don Francesco; furono collocate in un’urna nella cappella centrale a sinistra nella Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. Nella sua «Relazione istorica della traslazione del sacro corpo di s. Filomena da Roma a Mugnano del Cardinale», don De Lucia riferì dei prodigi che si verificarono.

Suor Maria Luisa di Gesù e la «Pia Rivelazione» di santa Filomena

La fama dei miracoli della Santa cominciò a diffondersi dovunque, principalmente in Italia e nella Francia meridionale. I membri della Casa Reale dei Borboni furono tra i primi ad affacciarsi alla devozione a questa Martire Taumaturga. Certamente, arrivò anche alla conoscenza di suor Maria Luisa di Gesù, mistica e ascetica, che viveva nel Ritiro dell’Olivella a Napoli. Ella non conobbe mai di persona don Francesco De Lucia, ma Suor Maria Luisa era già stimata e considerata da molti sacerdoti partenopei e fu incaricata dal proprio confessore, su richiesta di don Francesco, di cercare notizie sulla vita e sul martirio di santa Filomena.

Il 3 agosto 1833, mentre pregava nella sua cella davanti ad una statuetta di santa Filomena, come si legge nell’autobiografia di suor Maria Luisa di Gesù e riportato da don Francesco De Lucia in una successiva edizione del suo volume, santa Filomena apparve a suor Maria Luisa di Gesù, raccontandole la storia del suo martirio. La Santa era stata figlia di un principe della Grecia che insieme alla moglie si era convertito al cristianesimo. Era nata il 10 gennaio e ad undici anni aveva consacrato al Signore la sua verginità.

L’imperatore Diocleziano dichiarò poi guerra al padre di Filomena, il quale si portò a Roma con la famiglia per trattare una pace. L’imperatore s’innamorò della fanciulla, che aveva circa tredici anni, ma al suo rifiuto la sottopose a una serie di tormenti.

Filomena venne flagellata, ma due angeli la guarirono. Fu poi legata a un’ancora e gettata nel fiume Tevere, ma fu nuovamente salvata. Venne quindi colpita con frecce, ma i dardi furono deviati anche dopo essere stati arroventati. Alla fine, venne decapitata il 10 agosto.

Lo sviluppo del culto

La «Pia Rivelazione» di suor Maria Luisa di Gesù fu approvata dal Sant’Uffizio il 21 dicembre 1833, a indicare che non conteneva nulla di contrario agli elementi della fede.

Il culto a santa Filomena si propagò enormemente, sia nella penisola italiana che in Francia, tanto che la chiesa della Madonna delle Grazie divenne Santuario a lei dedicato.

La statua donata nel 1806 dal Cardinale Luigi Ruffo Scilla, arcivescovo di Napoli, trasudò manna per tre giorni consecutivi, durante i festeggiamenti del 1823.

Nel 1827, tramite la mediazione di monsignor Ludovici, papa Leone XII donò al Santuario le pietre tombali del sepolcro, che papa Pio VII aveva fatto trasferire nel Lapidario Vaticano. Nel 1836, Mugnano fu preservata dall’epidemia di colera; questa liberazione fu attribuita alla Santa.

Il 30 gennaio 1837, in seguito ai miracoli ottenuti da Paolina Jaricot e da Giovanna Pascutti di Venezia, papa Gregorio XVI concesse il culto pubblico alla Santa il giorno 11 agosto, l’Ufficio Divino per i sacerdoti della Diocesi di Nola e la Messa dal Comune di una Vergine e Martire per tutti gli altri sacerdoti.

Il Beato papa Pio IX concesse la Messa e l’Ufficio proprio il giorno 11 gennaio 1855. Durante il suo esilio a Gaeta, Pio IX si recò a Mugnano il 7 novembre 1849, dove dichiarò santa Filomena “Seconda Patrona del Regno delle Due Sicilie”.

La Festa del Patrocinio di santa Filomena, che si festeggia la prima domenica dopo il 10 gennaio, venne istituita da papa Leone XIII l’8 settembre 1886.

Grande devoto della Santa fu il Papa san Pio X, che scrisse il Breve Apostolico «Pias Fidelium Societates» a favore di santa Filomena quando cominciò la questione filomeniana; inoltre, egli elevò la Pia Arciconfraternita di santa Filomena ad Arciconfraternita Universale il 21 maggio 1912.

L’apporto di Paolina Jaricot e di san Giovanni Maria Vianney

Personaggi noti dell’epoca, come Paolina Jaricot, fondatrice dell’Opera della Propagazione della Fede e del Rosario vivente, e san Giovanni Maria Vianney, il Santo Curato d’Ars, attribuirono la guarigione completa dei loro mali all’intercessione della santa.

Predicatori e missionari ne diffusero il culto in Europa, Stati Uniti, Canada, Cina, India, Sudamerica e Oceania. Numerose Congregazioni, arciconfraternite, movimenti cattolici sorsero, intestati al suo nome. Poesie e inni sacri furono composti per diffonderne ulteriormente il culto.

La “questione filomeniana”

La “questione filomeniana” sorse con la celebrazione del primo Centenario di santa Filomena nel 1902, quando l’archeologo Orazio Marucchi ipotizzò la “teoria della riadoperazione dell’epitaffio di santa Filomena” basandosi esclusivamente su delle copie delle pietre tombali.

La tesi della teoria di Marucchi era che il nome sui mattoni rinvenuti nelle Catacombe di Priscilla era Filomena, ma i mattoni stessi erano stati riutilizzati nel IV secolo.

Per tale motivo, si arrivò all’ipotesi della mancanza d’identità; quindi, secondo Marucchi, quelle pietre non racchiudevano il corpo di santa Filomena.

Quanto al contenuto dell’ampolla rinvenuta nella tomba, a suo parere non si trattava di sangue, bensì di profumo.

La sua teoria fu subito contestata dall’archeologo Giuseppe Bonavenia, che studiò personalmente le tegole rinvenute nelle Catacombe di Priscilla durante la sua visita al Santuario del 27 aprile 1905.  Arrivò alla conclusione che tali tegole non furono mai riadoperate; inoltre, attestò che l’ampolla conteneva sangue.

La teoria di Bonavenia venne avallata dall’archeologo gesuita Padre Antonio Ferrua, che nel 1963 rigettò in toto l’ipotesi di Marucchi, dichiarando che i mattoni erano stati disposti in ordine errato solo perché i fossori, probabilmente, non sapevano leggere.

Monsignor Giovanni Braschi, Rettore del Santuario di santa Filomena, nei primi anni 2000 promosse nuovi studi sui mattoni e su quello che rimaneva dell’ampolla. Gli esami svolti nel 2003 dall’Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca e dall’Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze eseguiti dal Professor Carlo Lalli esclusero il riutilizzo dei mattoni, anche a causa della presenza dello stesso tipo di malta.

L’ampolla, invece, conteneva materiale organico, verosimilmente ciò che restava dell’emoglobina.

Il culto oggi

La Sacra Congregazione dei Riti con una postilla all’interno del Decreto del 14 febbraio 1961 stabilì: «Festum autem S. Philumenae V. et M. quolibet calendario expungatur», ossia «Il giorno della festa di santa Filomena sia eliminato da qualsiasi calendario». Dunque già nell'edizione del Messale Romano pubblicata nel 1962 da San Giovanni XXIII, quella definita da Benedetto XVI quale forma extra-ordinaria del Rito Romano, Santa Filomena non compariva più nell'appendice "per alcuni luoghi", come era stato in precedenza. Il nome della santa non era invece mai stato incluso nel Martirologio Romano, cosa d'altronde comune per tutti i Corpi Santi.

Quella postilla, enormemente pubblicizzata dalla stampa dell’epoca a causa della diffusione della devozione alla Santa nel mondo, fu in molti casi male interpretata e portò tanta confusione nell’ambito della Chiesa, tanto che alcune persone ritennero addirittura che la Santa non fosse mai esistita.

Nell’aprile 1961 l’allora Vescovo di Nola monsignor Adolfo Binni creò una commissione formata dal Rettore del Santuario monsignor Luigi Esposito, dal Vicario Generale della Diocesi e da alcuni parroci locali con lo scopo di ricevere dal Vaticano una linea di condotta da seguire. La risposta della Sacra Congregazione dei Riti fu: «Seguitate come prima…».

Un ulteriore chiarimento, richiesto nel 1964 dall’allora rettore del santuario di santa Filomena, monsignor Luigi Esposito, ebbe come risposta dalla Sacra Congregazione dei Riti: «È stato tolto il culto liturgico, è rimasto inalterato il culto popolare. La Santa può essere venerata e può essere onorata anche con la festa esterna e con la Messa dal Commune».

La devozione alla Santa è tutt’oggi molto diffusa, non solo a Mugnano del Cardinale, dove arrivano numerosi pellegrinaggi da molti Paesi del mondo, ma anche nelle altre località dove il suo culto è storicamente radicato.

Autore: Antonio Borrelli ed Emilia Flocchini

Fonte :

Fonti tratte dall’Archivio del Santuario di Santa Filomena, Mugnano del Cardinale (AV)

Note: Per approfondire: www.philomena.us

SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/65825

Sainte Philomène (Ott Frères, 1907): Église St Kilian de Dingsheim, Alsace


Sainte Philomène

«La piccola Santa dei curato»

Per fare il punto su santa Filomena è importante mettere in luce tre aspetti : la sua esistenza, la sua biografia e infine la devozione nei suoi confronti.

L’esistenza di Santa Filomena

Scoperta delle sue ossa e dell’iscrizione

Nel 1802, nel corso degli scavi condotti sotto l’autorità della Santa Sede nella catacomba romana di Priscilla, vennero scoperte le ossa di una giovane, la cui sepoltura era stata con tre mattonelle che recavano la seguente iscrizione : «LUMENA / PAX TE / CUM FI».

Si credette che, per inavvertenza, fosse stato invertito l’ordine dei tre frammenti e che si dovesse leggere:«PAX TE / CUM FI / LUMENA», cioé : «La pace sia con te, Filomena», nome che significa “beneamata”. I diversi segni decorativi che circondavano il suo nome – soprattutto la palma e le lance – portarono ad attribuire queste ossa ad una martire cristiana dei primi secoli.

All’epoca, infatti, si riteneva che la maggior parte dei corpi presenti nelle Catacombe risalissero alle persecuzioni dell’epoca apostolica.

Difficoltà incontrate nell’identificazione e nella datazione

Molti studiosi ( come Marucchi-Leclercq) sono dell’opinione che quelle ossa devono essere più sicuramente attribuite ad una defunta del IV secolo, epoca in cui si seppelliva abitualmente nelle catacombe e spesso si chiudevano i sepolcri utilizzando pezzi di antiche lastre tombali trovate sul posto. Mons. Trochu, biografo del santo Curato, ha dimostrato, però, la fragilità di questa ipotesi ed ha optato piuttosto per una data antica, vicina all’epoca apostolica. Dal punto di vista della storia, dunque, non si è giunti ad una decisione sicura.

Oggi possiamo affermare che l’esistenza di santa Filomena non è dimostrata storicamente né più né meno di quella di altri santi ufficialmente venerati dalla Chiesa – come san Giorgio, ad esempio. L’attestazione di numerosi miracoli e la devozione largamente diffusa tra un gran numero di fedeli e anche tra i pastori – tra essi il Curato d’Ars – non sono prove determinanti dal punto di vista storico e tuttavia inducono a rispettare la memoria di colei le cui ossa sono state scoperte duecento anni fa..

La biografia di Santa Filomena

La relazione di Dom Francesco di Lucia

I racconti sulla vita di santa Filomena possono fare riferimento a due « fonti » recenti. Innanzitutto Dom Francesco di Lucia, sacerdote di Nola, in Campania. Nel 1805 egli diventa il custode delle reliquie e nel 1824 redige una « Relazione », una specie di « biografia » di santa Filomena, che presentava come una martire della persecuzione di Diocleziano, nel IV° secolo. Il suo racconto è stato scritto partendo unicamente dall’interpretazione delle decorazioni che circondavano l’iscrizione: così la vergine martire sarebbe stata prima colpita dalle frecce (lance), poi gettata nel Tevere (ancora) e quindi decapitata con il gladio (spada)…

Le visioni di Suor Maria-Luisa di Gesù

La fonte più circostanziata sulla « vita » di santa Filomena è tuttavia costituita dalle visioni di una religiosa napoletana, Suor Maria-Luisa di Gesù, ispirata dal libro di Dom di Lucia. Un “racconto breve” delle sue rivelazioni è stato pubblicato dallo stesso Dom di Lucia, nel 1833. Il libro ha ottenuto l’Imprimatur del Sant’Uffizio (che in tempi recenti diventerà la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede) ; questo non garantisce l’autenticità delle visioni, ma attesta che nel testo non c’è nulla di contrario alla fede ed alla morale.

La “biografia” in questione riprende la maggior parte degli elementi comuni alle « passioni » delle vergini martiri dei primi secoli dell’era cristiana. Tra l’altro essa ha ispirato al pittore Borel gli affreschi che si trovano all’interno della Basilica di Ars. Bisogna comunque riconoscere che la trascrizione di uan rivelazione privata non è garantita dalla Chiesa.

Una conclusione provvisoria

Nel 1929, il celebre biografo del Curato d’Ars, Mons. Trochu, ha pubblicato uno studio documentato sulla questione di santa Filomena.. L’autore tenta di rispondere alle obiezioni sollevate da Marucchi e Leclercq riguardo alla identificazione e alla datazione delle ossa. Egli rimane molto discreto sulla vita di santa Filomena e si accontenta di immaginare le grandi tappe della sua iniziazione cristiana, tenendo conto degli usi dell’epoca: il suo battesimo e la sua cresima, la sua consacrazione nell’ordo delle vergini, il suo martirio… La maggior parte del suo lavoro, comunque, riguarda la storia del culto della santa.

Il culto di Santa Filomena

Una devozione popolare

Grazie ai numerosi miracoli, la devozione popolare a santa Filomena si è diffusa rapidamente, a partire soprattutto dal 1805, data della traslazione delle sue reliquie a Mugnano, sempre in Italia. È Paolina Jaricot (uan lionese fondatrice dell’opera della Propagazione della Fede) che, ins seguito ad un pellegrinaggio ed alla guarigione ottenuta da lei personalmente, portò alcune reliquie al Curato d’Ars. La festa si celebrava allora ad Ars l’11 agosto.

Un culto riconosciuto

In effetti, nel 1837 il papa Gregorio XVI autorizza il culto pubblico della santa, dapprima nel santuario di Mugnano e poi in tutta la diocesi di Napoli. Con gli indulti necessari, lo stesso permesso viene accordato anche alla parrocchia di Ars, con grande gioia di Giovanni-Maria Vianney. Nel 1855 una Messa ed un Ufficio propri vengono approvati dal beato Pio IX, che si reca lui stesso nel santuario di Mugnano. Anche Leone XIII e san Pio X testimoniano pubblicamente la loro devozione verso la santa: bisogna riconoscere in ogni caso che questi atti non impegnano la loro infallibilità a proposito dei dati storici riguardanti la vita ed il martirio di santa Filomena.

Una prudente riserva

Si deve ammettere che su tale questione mancano molte precisazioni di ordine storico, a cui non possono supplire né i miracoli, né la devozione dei fedeli. Inoltre non si trova alcuna testimonianza dei primi secoli a riguardo di una devozione verso santa Filomena. Ecco perché, seguendo i criteri esigenti della scienza storica contemporanea, quando si è provveduto alla revisione del Martirologio romano nel 1961, il nome di Filomena non è stato conservato. tale decisione liturgica non tronca la questione, ma la lascia sospesa, in attesa di studi più completi.

In conclusione

Attualmente l’ipotesi favorevole all’esistenza storica di Filomena non è stata esclusa. I resti trovati a Roma nel 1802 possono essere quelli di un’autentica martire, quali che siano il suo nome, la sua vita e le circostanze della sua morte. Attraverso i prodigi che si sono moltiplicati attorno alle sue reliquie, forse Dio ha voluto farla conoscere al mondo, secondo un disegno particolare di misericordia, come suggeriscono tante testimonianze concordi tra loro.

La Chiesa è una Madre prudente nei confronti dei suoi figli. Essa interviene a regolare quanto concerne il culto dei santi e vuole assicurarsi della loro esistenza e dei segni certi della loro santità. Essa valuta anche l’opportunità di presentarli o no alla venerazione pubblica e alla imitazione dei fedeli. Per il momento la Chiesa ritiene che sia preferibile non promuovere il culto di santa Filomena. Ecco perché, in uno spirito filiale, il Santuario di Ars non organizza celebrazioni pubbliche in onore della santa. tale scelta vale in modo del tutto particolare per il luogo in cui la Chiesa ci invita a venire a pregare il santo Curato, che ci dona come “patrono di tutti i curati del mondo”.

Tuttavia i pellegrini di Ars, come i cristiani del mondo intero, possono liberamente esprimere in modo privato la loro devozione verso santa Filomena, e rivolgersi a Dio attraverso la sua intercessione. Dio ascolta ogni preghiera fatta con fede ed esaudisce la sincerità di un cuore credente.

Su richiesta del santuario di Ars, la Congregazione per il Culto Divino, assieme alla Congregazione per le Cause dei santi ha assunto il dossier riguardante santa Filomena. Attendiamo a questo punto le conclusioni della Commissione istituita a questo scopo. E ci affidiamo anticipatamente, con spirito filiale, al giudizio della Chiesa riguardante l’esistenza e la vita di santa Filomena, così come alle sagge decisioni che essa prenderà relativamente al suo culto.

SOURCE : https://www.arsnet.org/Santa-Filomena.html?lang=it


Sainte Philomene à Moustiers