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Saint Philomena, Virgin & Martyr
God’s love unites couple at St. Philomena’s Sanctuary - Producer of Bella the Movie Honeymoon's at the Sanctuary
Welcome to the official website of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy. "Filomena" [Ital.] "Philomène" [Fr.] or "Philomena" [Eng.]
Devotion to Saint Philomena continues to explode all around the globe. The Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena has gained new memberships this past year in unprecedented numbers. We received a total of 12,155,876 hits to our website in 2006 and pilgrimages to the Sanctuary continue to grow at a remarkable pace.
“Why is Saint Philomena making such a powerful spiritual return in our own times? I believe one reason is that the youth of today need an example of heroic Christian purity, even when they do not find support for purity from their society, their friends, even at times from their own parents. Many of today’s youth are being exposed to numerous occasions of blasphemy and impurity through pornography, immodest clothing, obscene movies, and oftentimes, most tragically, with the consent of their parents.
Today’s youth need a young heroic witness for the upholding of Christian purity even if their peers and their own parents are not encouraging them. They face situations very similar to those which Philomena had to contend with. Both the Emperor and her parents encouraged her to become the Empress of Rome—the highest position of power and fame the world could offer any woman. Similarly, our young people are continually tempted by the allure of power and pride and illicit pleasures. Because Philomena said yes to Christ and to His Kingdom, it is little wonder that Jesus is making her well known again as the Patroness of Purity, for the young people of the twenty-first century.”
Dr. Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, United States
Saint Philomena is a saint who has received extraordinary honor in the Church from popes, bishops, saints, and mystics. Pope Gregory XVI referred to her as the “wonder-worker” of the nineteenth century. Bl. Pope Pius IX declared her the “Patroness of the Children of Mary.” St. John Vianney attributed all of his miracles to her, stating, “I have never asked for anything through the intercession of my Little Saint without having been answered.” Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, the Roman “mother-mystic,” received through this saint the miraculous cure of her granddaughter and entrusted all her children to her powerful intercession. Father Damien of Molokai showed his devotion by naming his church in her honor. The popes of the nineteenth century showered this young saint with numerous plenary indulgences, and gifts such as papal rings and pectoral crosses.
In 1802, excavators working in the ancient Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome discovered a tomb with three terra-cotta slabs reading PAXTE; CUMFI; LUMENA which means "Peace Be With You, Filumena." The slabs were marked with a lily, arrows, an anchor and a palm, indicating virginity and martyrdom. Inside were the remains of a girl of about thirteen years of age, along with a vial of her dried blood which signified that this was indeed a Martyr who died for the love of Christ and Christianity.
The Relics were transferred to the Treasury of the Rare Collections of Christian Antiquity in the Vatican where they remained for three years. In 1805, a priest from Mugnano del Cardinale, Don Francesco De Lucia, traveling to Rome with his newly appointed Bishop, requested and eventually received the relics of this Martyr “Filumena” to enshrine in his village church in Mugnano del Cardinale, Av, Italy.
During that remarkable period of the 1830s, when miracles abounded through Saint Philomena’s intercession and the Church granted her public liturgical veneration, three separate individuals in different parts of Italy (completely unbeknownst to each other) began receiving details of the historical background of Saint Philomena through various modes of private revelation. The most significant were locutions received by Sr. Luisa di Gesu in August of 1833, revelations which received approval by the Holy Office (presently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) on December 21, 1833.
Nineteen acts of the Holy See during the pontificates of five popes were issued in positive promotion of popular devotion to Saint Philomena, in the forms of public liturgical veneration, archconfraternities, and plenary and partial indulgences. This succession of papal veneration and indulgences is arguably unprecedented in the pontifical granting of devotional privileges for any modern saint.
May 25th is the anniversary of the finding of the Relics of Saint Philomena in the catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome 1802. This is a solemn day of prayer at the Sanctuary and a popular time for pilgrimages. The grandest festivities and processions take place in August and last for five days. This includes the liturgical feast within the diocese of Nola of the Translation of the Holy Relics from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale on August 10th. Thousands of devotees attend annually and the Miraculous Statue, covered in gold donated jewelry is carried through every street in the town.
During this time, the most incredible peace ensues and a definite presence of Saint Philomena is felt within the Sanctuary. She has a strong and powerful intercession. Her presence is especially palpable at the Sacred Altar where her Relics are contained within the Paper Mache Statue and beside it, the vial of dried blood. Facing the statue are the original slabs found at the tomb. The museum contains the chair that Pauline Jaricot sat on when she miraculously recovered from a fatal illness; this is know as the "Great Miracle of Mugnano" which Pope Gregory XVI was witness to.
On February 14, 1961, the Sacred Congregation of the Rites, decreeing that the feast of Saint Philomena might be removed from the Liturgical Calendar, created an air of apprehension amongst believers. With that decree, the Church never intended to negate the cult of the Saint, but removed the ‘Proper’ Mass from the cults and conceded to it, the Mass from the Common of Martyrs. Included is an extract from an article by Luigi Esposito titled “The Cult in the Last Ten Years”:
'But what in truth is the real position, the real significance of the 1961 decree? It reads like this: “The feast of Saint Philomena is to be taken off…” It would be a lot different if it has said: “Saint Philomena has been taken off every calendar.” - With the systematization it would seem, and we have good reasons to think in this way, the Church intended to remove from the Saint, not the cult but only those formalities of the cult that she was accorded in an extraordinary manner by the preceding Roman pontiffs.
It has returned, for Saint Philomena, to the ancient depositions of the Rite of 1691 by which it was established that Saints, whose bodies were found in the Catacombs after the year 1000, were able to have a cult, with the Mass from the “Common” only there where the Body was preserved...'
That this is an objective interpretation and not subjective emerges from the following evidence. In April, 1961, the Bishop of Nola, Monsignor Binni, wished that a commission, formed by the undersigned of the Vicar General and local parish priests should go to Rome to ask what line of conduct should be followed. The case was expounded. The Pontifical Concessions and, above all, the reasons for which they were caused were presented. 'Carry on as before' was the reply.
In 1964, with the visit of the diocesan bishop, a request was presented for the authentic interpretation of the statement, 'Festum outem S. Filumenae…' and if, precisely with that statement, only the liturgical cult was removed or all kinds of devotion. The following reply was received. “The liturgical cult is removed. The popular cult remains unaltered. The Saint may be venerated and may be honored even with external celebrations and with the Mass of the Common Martyrs'.
She may be 'venerated and honored with external celebrations and with the Mass from the Common of the Martyrs' not only in Mugnano, but also in other places where for local reasons devotion to the Saint exists.
A major confirmation of the above, an affirmation to all devotees wherever they are, is the exhortation of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI to the Bishop of Misore, Monsignor M. Fernandes, titular of the Cathedral of Saint Philomena in India. The Bishop asked the Holy Father what was required concerning the decree of February 14, 1961. His Holiness advised him: “Continue as before and do not upset your people”.
Saint Philomena is, therefore, able to bless her devotees. She leads them to understand the necessity of the salvation of the soul. She is a spring of spirituality which, the more it is smothered, the more it bursts forth with violence.