St. Nicholas Owen, Martyr (22 March) – The Priest Hole Maker

St. Nicholas Owen, Martyr (22 March) – The Priest Hole Maker

During the deadly feuds which existed in the Middle Ages, when no man was secure from spies and traitors even within the walls of his own house, it is no matter of wonder that the castles and mansions of the powerful and wealthy were usually provided with some precaution in the event of a sudden surprise, viz. a secret means of concealment or escape that could be used at a moment’s notice; but the majority of secret chambers and hiding-places in our ancient buildings owe their origin to religious persecution, particularly during the reign of Elizabeth, when the most stringent laws and oppressive burdens were inflicted upon all persons who professed the tenets of the Church of Rome.
In the first years of the virgin Queen’s reign all who clung to the older forms of the Catholic faith were mercifully connived at, so long as they solemnised their own religious rites within their private dwelling-houses; but after the Roman Catholic rising in the north and numerous other Popish plots, the utmost severity of the law was enforced, particularly against seminarists, whose chief object was, as was generally believed, to stir up their disciples in England against the Protestant Queen. An Act was passed prohibiting a member of the Church of Rome from celebrating the rites of his religion on pain of forfeiture for the first offence, a year’s imprisonment for the second, and imprisonment for life for the third. (In December, 1591, a priest was hanged before the door of a house in Gray’s Inn Fields for having there said Mass the month previously.) All those who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy were called “recusants” and were guilty of high treason. A law was also enacted which provided that if any Papist should convert a Protestant to the Church of Rome, both should suffer death, as for high treason.
The sanguinary laws against seminary priests and “recusants” were enforced with the greatest severity after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. These were revived for a period in Charles II’s reign, when Oates’s plot worked up a fanatical hatred against all professors of the ancient faith. In the mansions of the old Roman Catholic families we often find an apartment in a secluded part of the house or garret in the roof named “the chapel,” where religious rites could be performed with the utmost privacy, and close handy was usually an artfully contrived hiding-place, not only for the officiating priest to slip into in case of emergency, but also where the vestments, sacred vessels, and altar furniture could be put away at a moment’s notice.
It appears from the writings of Father Tanner that most of the hiding-places for priests, usually called “priests’ holes,” were invented and constructed by the Jesuit Nicholas Owen, a servant of Father Garnet, who devoted the greater part of his life to constructing these places in the principal Roman Catholic houses all over England.
“With incomparable skill,” says an authority, “he knew how to conduct priests to a place of safety along subterranean passages, to hide them between walls and bury them in impenetrable recesses, and to entangle them in labyrinths and a thousand windings. But what was much more difficult of accomplishment, he so disguised the entrances to these as to make them most unlike what they really were.
Moreover, he kept these places so close a secret with himself that he would never disclose to another the place of concealment of any Catholic. He alone was both their architect and their builder, working at them with inexhaustible industry and labour, for generally the thickest walls had to be broken into and large stones excavated, requiring stronger arms than were attached to a body so diminutive as to give him the nickname of ‘Little John,’ and by this his skill many priests were preserved from the prey of persecutors. Nor is it easy to find anyone who had not often been indebted for his life to Owen’s hiding-places.”
How effectually “Little John’s” peculiar ingenuity baffled the exhaustive searches of the “pursuivants,” or priest-hunters, has been shown by contemporary accounts of the searches that took place frequently in suspected houses. Father Gerard, in his Autobiography, has handed down to us many curious details of the mode of procedure upon these occasions – how the search-party would bring with them skilled carpenters and masons and try every possible expedient, from systematic measurements and soundings to bodily tearing down the panelling and pulling up the floors. It was not an uncommon thing for a rigid search to last a fortnight and for the “pursuivants” to go away empty handed, while perhaps the object of the search was hidden the whole time within a wall’s thickness of his pursuers, half starved, cramped and sore with prolonged confinement, and almost afraid to breathe lest the least sound should throw suspicion upon the particular spot where he lay immured.
After the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, “Little John” and his master, Father Garnet, were arrested at Hindlip Hall, Worcestershire, from information given to the Government by Catesby’s servant Bates. Cecil, who was well aware of Owen’s skill in constructing hiding-places, wrote exultingly: “Great joy was caused all through the kingdom by the arrest of Owen, knowing his skill in constructing hiding-places, and the innumerable number of these dark holes which he had schemed for hiding priests throughout the kingdom.” He hoped that “great booty of priests” might be taken in consequence of the secrets Owen would be made to reveal, and directed that first he should “be coaxed if he be willing to contract for his life,” but that “the secret is to be wrung from him.” The horrors of the rack, however, failed in its purpose. His terrible death is thus briefly recorded by the Governor ot the Tower at that time: “The man is dead – he died in our hands”; and perhaps it is as well the ghastly details did not transpire in his report.
The curious old mansion Hindlip Hall (pulled down in the early part of the last century) was erected in 1572 by John Abingdon, or Habington, whose son Thomas (the brother-in-law of Lord Monteagle) was deeply involved in the numerous plots against the reformed religion. A long imprisonment in the Tower for his futile efforts to set Mary Queen of Scots at liberty, far from curing the dangerous schemes of this zealous partisan of the luckless Stuart heroine, only kept him out of mischief for a time. No sooner had he obtained his freedom than he set his mind to work to turn his house in Worcestershire into a harbour of refuge for the followers of the older rites. In the quaint irregularities of the masonry free scope was given to “Little John’s” ingenuity; indeed, there is every proof that some of his masterpieces were constructed here. A few years before the “Powder Plot” was discovered, it was a hanging matter for a priest to be caught celebrating the Mass. Yet with the facilities at Hindlip he might do so with comfort, with every assurance that he had the means of evading the law. The walls of the mansion were literally riddled with secret chambers and passages. There was little fear of being run to earth with hidden exits everywhere. Wainscoting, solid brickwork, or stone hearth were equally accommodating, and would swallow up fugitives wholesale, and close over them, to “Open, Sesame!” again only at the hider’s pleasure.

– text taken from Secret Chambers and Hiding Places, by Allan Fea, London, England, 1904

Saint Nicholas Owen came from a humble background.  He was born around 1550, into a pious Catholic family in Oxford. Two of his brothers became priests and one was a printer, but Nicholas became a carpenter, like his father. Nicholas was very small, and was nicknamed ‘Little John’. Like all of his family, Nicholas devoted himself to the Church, which was being heavily persecuted. He spent his time helping the head of the Jesuits in England, called Fr Henry Garnet. Together, they would visit all the Catholic priests in hiding, and because he was such a brilliant carpenter, Nicholas began making ingenious places where priests could hide away in Catholic houses, known as ‘priest-holes’. Before making any priest-hole, he would kneel down and spend some time in prayer for the priests who would hide there, including his own brothers. People say that there are many priest-holes made by St Nicholas that still haven’t been discovered. Nicholas Owen was arrested three times for his faith, but was released each time, because the authorities didn’t think he was important. When the authorities realized just who they had caught, the Secretary of State, William Cecil said “It was incredible how great was the joy caused by his arrest. Who knows how many he has hidden in his dark holes all over England!”
Because Owen knew so much, they decided to torture him viciously, stretching his body so much on the rack, that his guts burst open and he died under torture.
He never revealed any names of priests or their hiding places. As an expert hider of people, he was the mastermind in helping a famous priest escape from the Tower of London, and then he too went into hiding for the last time. Spies reported that Nicholas and some priests were hiding in a particular house, and for twelve days they searched the house but couldn’t find the hiding places. Eventually Saint Nicholas was starved out of his own priest- hole, along with another priest in hiding.
They had been living on one shared apple. Another Jesuit priest said of Saint Nicholas “I verily think no man can be said to have done more good of all those who laboured in the English vineyard. He made it possible for hundreds of priests and fellow Catholics to survive persecution”.
San Nicolas Owen

Prayer to Blessed Noel Pinot for Priests under Persecution

Prayer to Blessed Noel Pinot for Priests under Persecution

He went to the guillotine still vested for Mass and repeatedly praying the words that begin the Mass: “Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam.

Blessed Noel Pinot, who shared in the Sacred Priesthood of Jesus, the Sovereign Priest,
deign to show us, your servants, the power of your intercession.

Enlighten and strengthen priests; render them, like you, invincible in their defense of the Faith.

Foster priestly and religious vocations in our parishes;
fill those aspiring to the priesthood and the religious life with an ardent zeal.

Obtain for the faithful the grace to better know and practice their religion.

Ensure that families are faithful in carrying out their duties and grant that they be humble and respectful towards their pastors.

Preserve children and the youth from the many perils which threaten their beliefs and virtues;
undo the plots of those who wish to tear them away from the maternal bosom of the Church.

As you did during your life, aid the sick and the infirm; strengthen those who suffer and struggle.

Finally, bless and crown with success the apostolic labors of the ministers of Christ and of all the Church militant,
with the aim of restoring to our dear France the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Blessed Noel Pinot, pray for us.

Biography
Sign up to support the canonization of Blessed Noel Pinot. General Vicar A. Oger, Angers, France (July 10th, 1944)

The Curé d’Ars Prayer Group (For the bishop and priests of the Raleigh, NC Diocese)

All powerful, ever living God,
You gave Blessed Noel the courage to witness to the Gospel of Christ,
even to the point of giving his life for it.
By his prayers help us to endure all suffering for love of you
and to seek you with all our hearts,
for you alone are the source of life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Resistance Radio Episode 17: Garcia Moreno & Our Lady of Quito

I decided to do a podcast on the Preface of the book by Fr Augustine Berthe “Garcia Moreno” … the photos I mentioned are posted below

Novena Prayer For the Canonization of Gabriel Garcia Moreno Catholic President of Ecuador

Oh Holy Virgin of Lourdes, remember that thy servant Garcia Moreno promised to defend thy Immaculate Conception. Remember that he belonged to thy sweet Archconfraternity, and that he fervently prayed thy Holy Rosary. Pope Pius IX, who officially proclaimed thy exemption from original sin, declared that Garcia Moreno “died a victim of the Faith and Christian Charity for his beloved country”.

Oh Holy Virgin, obtain for us the canonization of this exemplary ruler so that powerful men arise in works and words for the cause of the same Faith and of our beloved country. Finally, please grant this special intention (make request), if it is for the good of my soul. Amen

With Ecclesiastical Approval (300 days Indulgence)
C.M. Cardinal de la Torre, Archbishop of Quito
January 21, 1958

The “rule” of Garcia Moreno found after his death in his pocket.

The discipline and piety that governed the life of Gabriel Garcia Moreno is best revealed in the brief rule of life he wrote on the last page of his Imitation of Christ, a book he always kept with him. It was found in his pocket after his death. The rule reads:

“Every morning when saying my prayers I will ask especially for humility. Every day I will hear Mass, say the Rosary and will read, besides, a chapter from the Imitation, this Rule and the instruction added to it.

“I will endeavor to keep myself as much as possible in the presence of God, especially during conversations that I might not exceed in words. I will often offer my heart to God, principally before beginning any actions.

“Every hour I will say to myself: ‘I am worse than a demon and hell should be my dwelling place.’ In temptations I will add: ‘What would I think of this in my last agony?’

“In my room, never to pray sitting when I can do so on my knees or standing.

“Practice daily little acts of humility, as kissing the ground.

“To rejoice when I or my actions are censured. Never to speak of myself except to avow my faults or defects.

“To make efforts, by thinking of Jesus and Mary, to restrain my impatience and go against my natural inclinations.

“To be kind to all, even with the importunate, and never to speak ill of my enemies.

“Every morning before beginning my work, I will write down what I have to do, being very careful to distribute my time well, to give myself only to useful and necessary business, and to continue it with zeal and perseverance.

“I will scrupulously observe the law of justice and truth, and have no intentions in all my actions save the greater glory of God…

“I will go to confession every week…

“I will never pass more than an hour in any amusement, and in general never before 8 o’clock in the evening.”

You can print off the rule from here

St Philomena (Feast Day 11 August)

The Catacombs

Before outlining the radiating figure of Saint Philomena, virgin and roman martyr, it’s appropriate to mention the catacombs, since her mortal remains were discovered in 1802 in Rome at the Catacombs of Priscilla (fig. 1-2-3).

There are prestigious studies regarding this (for ex.: P. TESTINI, Archeologia Cristiana (Christian Archaeology); M. SORDI, I cristiani e l’impero romano (Christians and the roman empire), etc.) In particular, we have decided to relate a page from the illustrious southern historian Gabriele De Rosa, because it seemed to us an effective synthesis and at the same time an accessible and clear exposition of the argument, in line with the style and objectives of this work, limiting us only to add some complementary information in the notes:

“The pagans buried their deceased in the necropolis, the city of the dead, or in monumental tombs reserved for the wealthier ones and positioned along the roads that stretched out of the city. It was forbidden to bury the dead inside an inhabited area, and soon it became customary to burn the bodies. Christians, instead, continued to bury their dead and were granted the authorization to build cemeteries reserved for the faithful and the martyrs in which to celebrate the funeral rituals according to their cults. So they eventually started using, as a cemetery, a site situated on the roadsides of the via Appia called “Catacumbas”, which means “near the cavity”, since it seems that in that area there were tuff mines which had caused hollows the ground. In this way what we know today as “catacombs” is a term extended to all the Christian underground cemeteries. Catacombs, although particularly numerous in Rome because of the nature of its ground, are not exclusive of the capital: there are more in other places of Italy, in Malta, in Northern Africa.
“Many people think that the catacombs were places of refuge in which Christians could hide to escape from persecutions. But this is not accurate since the catacombs were well known to the roman authorities, who had them under strict surveillance. Furthermore, it proves very difficult to live for lengthy periods in these tunnels dug underground without air. It is instead true that catacombs, in addition to being dedicated to burials, were places of worship, in which rituals of the Christian community: the group praying, the Eucharist, the administration of the sacraments were celebrated. Only in special circumstances, when persecutions became very violent, the catacombs were used as a provisional refuge place. The first groups of underground cemeteries began to be dug around the middle of the II century A.D. Later, a corporation was founded called fossors, which specialized in the digging of tunnels.

061013_2145_1

Fig. 1 – Basilica of San Silvestro, in Rome, built on Priscilla’s catacombs.

061013_2145_2Fig. 2 – Burial niches in the tunnels of Priscilla’s catacombs. In one of these burial niches, on May 25, 1802, the body of the Martyr Philomena was found.

 

catacombs

Fig. 3 – The so-called cryptoportcus of Priscilla’s catacombs.

Catacombs were structured on more levels (there could be as many as five), and they could reach a depth of up to thirty meters. The tunnels were tight and long, about three meters tall, and were connected by steep stairs which formed a complex grid, an actual true labyrinth. The niches assigned to the burial of the dead were dug into the walls. After the burial, the niches were closed by a tombstone or bricks.The tunnels were larger rooms and the crypts, were underground churches.

The light, which filtered from tiny openings, was very scarce and it illuminated only the floors nearer the surface.

The catacombs near Rome have not yet been fully explored. Of these, the most important ones are those of St. Callisto, St. Sebastian, Domitilla and St. Agnes.”

Miracle of Recognition

The great miracle of Mugnano One of the most illustrious heroines which the Church has given to the world in the nineteenth century is without doubt the sweet French girl, Pauline Marie Jaricot.

Many were the obstacle which this noble child had to confront whilst following the high but arduous career marked out for her by God. She was the favorite daughter of wealthy parents from whom she inherited a vast fortune. Her beauty was striking and singled her out in the most fashionable gatherings as an object of admiration. Added to this she was clever, bright and gay, gifted with a most attractive personality and possessing a heart overflowing with gentleness and affection. Everything in the girl drew one towards her. Society was at her feet. Notwithstanding the allurements of pleasure and the soft flattery of many friends, Pauline always felt a call to higher things. God beckoned her one way the world another. This first combat was long and fierce, but at last grace triumphed and the victory was for God. The next struggle that our heroine was destined to encounter was of a far different nature. She lost her beloved mother at an early age and, at the same time, fell herself a prey to a violent disorder which attacked both body and mind, leaving her a veritable caricature of her former self. This trial like the former was long and intensely painful. After this came a breathing space, which in turn was followed by a still more grievous malady which kept her for long years at the very gates of death.

Wonderful are the ways of God who ever purifies in the crucible of suffering the souls which He has chosen for great designs. It was this sorely tried child who was to give the Church three of its most important modern Associations, each of which is gathering into the fold of Peter millions of abandoned souls.

Her first work was the foundation of the Association of the Living Rosary, the fruits of which are incalculable. The Society of the Propagation of the Faith came next. This society infused, in an incredibly short time, new life and vigor into the foreign missions and extended still further their already vast radius. By a single system – the inspiration of Pauline herself – abundant funds flowed in from all parts, enabling the missionaries to achieve results far in excess of their wildest dreams.

Finally, if not the sole Foundress, she at least took a leading part in the establishment of the Holy Childhood, an association which is annually rescuing countless babes from the horrors and degradation of paganism.

Pauline’s life story is well worth perusal not only because it is teeming with interest, but much more because it sets before us an example which might well serve as a model and stimulus to other girls who, like her, could do great things for the world had they only the necessary confidence in God and themselves. Unfortunately it does not come within the scope of this work to give a more lengthy account of Miss Jaricot. We refer to her merely because of her connection with Saint Philomena by whom, as we shall see, she was miraculously restored to health and whose devotion she was instrumental in spreading all over France and, indeed, throughout the world.

We entitle the cure of Miss Jaricot the Great Miracle of Mugnano, firstly, because the Holy Father Gregory XVI, who was a witness of it, declared it to be a miracle of the first class; secondly, because it was the immediate reason why the office and feast of the Saint were granted to the universal Church and, lastly, because, more than any other of the wonders worked at Mugnano, it served to make the name of Saint Philomena known far and wide.

We still allow the young heroine to recount in her own words the history of her illness and the miraculous nature of her cure

Pauline’s Illness
“It would be well-night impossible to describe the sufferings I endured for the past ten years. I do not pretend to give a scientific explanation of all I went through. I merely state what I felt and what I heard the doctors say.

Up to March 1835 I was, as a rule, able to bear my pains in such a way that those around me had no idea of what I was going through. After the Revolution, however, the disease showed unmistakable signs of aggravation. As my malady chiefly affected the heart, in proportion as it increased, the palpitations became ore violent so that they could be heard at a distance. On these occasions my sides heaved with the agony I endured. A slight movement or change of position was sufficient to send the blood rushing violently back to my heart, thus causing imminent risk of suffocation. My breathing seemed to cease and the beatings of my pulse became imperceptible, so that the most drastic remedies had to be applied to restore some degree of heat to my frozen limbs

The abnormal dilation of my heart compressed the lungs, and breathing became a positive torture. As a consequence, I was compelled to lie perfectly still lest the over-charged blood vessels should burst

In the part of my chest where the palpitations were most violent, a cavity was gradually formed into which most violent, a cavity was gradually formed into which the food that I attempted to swallow lodged, causing still further danger of suffocation

The doctors now made two openings in my side in a vain effort to check the progress of the disease and with a view to lessen the danger of suffocation. I was in consequence reduced to such a state of pain and exhaustions as made it evident that death could not be far off

During these awful years of torture I had some short intervals of relief. The most appreciable of these was at the end of a novena made to Saint Philomena. The body of this Virgin Martyr ad been recently discovered in the Roman Catacombs, and the marvels wrought by means of her precious relics were so extraordinary that the name of Philomena was on every tongue. At the mention of this dear name I experienced intense joy and longed to kneel at the shrine of this illustrious Virgin. But alas! Such a thing seemed impossible, for her sanctuary was far away in Naples and I was unable to bear the least fatigue. Yet I felt inspired to go to the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, at Paray-le-Monial, not, indeed, to ask for a cure but to settle the affairs of my soul

Utterly worm out with pain I said to myself: “I survived the fearful shock and excitement of the bombardment and thought weeks and months have passed I am still alive. Surely there is some hidden design of God’s Providence in all this.” I knew that the Association of the Living Rosary was praying for me, so, placing my trust in God and these good prayers, I resolved on a step which, had it been known, would certainly have been deemed pure and simple madness

In fact I had some scruples about the matter myself as I had no wish to do anything of which my conscience did not fully approve

I therefore elicited from the doctor the information that my state was so desperate that nothing I might do mattered much one way or another. This declaration set my scruples at rest.

When I mooted the project I had at heart, I met at once with opposition. Though he was not aware of it, I heard the doctor say in a whisper: “Let her alone, let her go, she will not go far.

The preparations for the projected journey had been made in secret so Pauline started immediately in a carriage for Paray-le-Monial, accompanied by her chaplain, a young lady friend and a confidential servant. The few who knew of her departure said: “She will not reach the first resting place alive.” Even those who accompanied her feared that every jolt of the carriage would cause her death. No such thing however happened.

She arrived safely at her journey’s end and settled the affairs she had so much at heart. Then she said to herself: “This first journey did not keel me so let me go to Rome and get the Holy Father’s blessing.” This was the ambition of her life

If we think of what a journey to Rome meant in those days of coach-traveling over the Alps, through wild and abandoned stretches of territory infested with brigands, we shall be able to form some idea of the heroic faith and magnificent courage of this young girl. The journey was at all times wearisome and full of danger but, for one in Pauline’s state of exhaustion and with so small an escort, it was perilous in the extreme. Death seemed to dog the steps of the travelers. The pains endured by the poor invalid were excruciating. Only when her sufferings were most intense could she be induced to make a short halt, and, even then, after the briefest rest she would insist, with indomitable courage, on pursuing the journey. When the party reached Chambery, Pauline herself lost hope and resigned herself to die for from home and far from the Vicar of Christ. Her weakness was extreme and she completely lost the use of her senses, remaining unconscious for two whole days. The pupils in the Convent of the town made a novena to Saint Philomena for her recovery and, at its conclusion, she was much better and the journey was resumed. The snow was so deep on the road over the Alps, that notwithstanding their powerful horses and the valuable aid of sturdy mountaineers, their progress was slow and difficult

On reaching the summit of Mount Cenis a glorious view burst on their delighted gaze and they halted for some time to contemplate the magnificent panorama that stretched before them.

As they gazed on this wondrous scene, a beautiful child suddenly appeared – no one knew whence he came – and approaching the carriage where Pauline lay, smiled on her sweetly and presented her with a beautiful white rose which exhaled a delightful perfume

The guides had never before seen the child, who disappeared as quickly as he had come, nor could they form any idea of who he might be. The rose, they declared, could not have bloomed in the mountains. No such flowers were found in these regions of snow. The little incident was a consolation for the travelers after all they had undergone. Pauline’s companions saw in it a symbol of the beautiful present she was about to make the Holy Father, nothing less than the gift of her first great work, the Living Rosary, of which the white and fragrant rose was so fit an emblem

“On our arrival in the Italian plains” she goes on to write, “we were forced to travel by night, as the heat of the day was excessive. I had no fear of brigands or of evil spirits since we were under the protection of our Lady and Saint Philomena. We made sure to have their medals hung on the carriage and we likewise gave one to the postilions. It was eleven o’clock at night when we reached the foot of the mountain of Loreto and, though warned that the roads were not safe, we pushed on in the hope of soon reaching the “House of the Holy Family,” (now the Basilica of Loretto), which we did as the dawn was breaking over the hills.

Here again the invalid had a serious relapse, and once more all hope was lost of saving her life. Nevertheless she rallied and after a few days’ rest started anew on the road to the Eternal City. During this last stage of her journey the attacks were frequent and she arrived in Rome in an almost unconscious state

The nuns of the Sacred Heart, at the Trinita deiMonti, received her with the greatest affection. Her weakness was extreme and it was simply unthinkable that she should leave the convent

Thus after a long and perilous journey, in which she braved so many dangers and even death itself, she had to halt at the very threshold of the Vatican. She could go no further

The Blessed Mother and Saint Philomena were with her and she was not to lose her reward. The Holy Father soon heard of her arrival in Rome and aware of the state of exhaustion in which she lay, resolved with truly paternal affection to go himself and visit “his dear daughter” whom he so tenderly loved and who deserved so well of Holy Church.

It was surely an extraordinary honor but a still more extraordinary consolation for this most humble girl to receive the visit of the Vicar of Christ who came expressly, not merely to visit and console but to thank and bless her

The Holy Father opened his great heart and poured forth his thanks in the most affectionate terms. He told “his dear child” how please he was with all she had done; he praised her great courage and ardent faith in coming to Rome, and blessed her most abundantly. It was like a visit of our Blessed Lord, for in His Vicar she saw and reverence the Master Himself. Seeing how exhausted she was he asked her to pray for him when she got to Heaven.

“Yes, Holy Father,” she replied, “I promise to do so but, if on my return from Mugnano I come back well and go on foot to the Vatican will your Holiness deign to proceed without delay with the final enquiry into the cause of Saint Philomena?”

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

Turning to the Superiors the Holy Father said in Italian; “How ill our daughter is! She seems to me as if she had come forth from the grave. We shall never see her again. She will never return.”

Pauline understood what he said but only smiled confidently.

When leaving, the Pope blessed her anew and said to Cardinal Lambruscini who accompanied him; “I recommend my dear daughter to you. Grant her all the indulgences and privileges it is possible to bestow.”

It was now August and the heat was terrific. The little party started for Mugnano but had to travel by night and rest by day. They arrived at the Sanctuary on the eve of Saint Philomena’s feast

The Neapolitans and the crowds from all the surrounding districts, who flocked to the Sanctuary for the feast, went wild with excitement when they heard who Pauline was and why and whence she had come. Their sympathy for her on the one hand their jealousy for the reputation of their dear patroness on the other awakened the highest enthusiasm. Here was this French Lady, so loved by the Holy Father, who had done so much for religion, come hundreds and hundreds of miles, over the snow-capped Alps, through mountain fastnesses, braving perils and death itself to invoke Saint Philomena – She must, she must be cured

“Dear Saint Philomena” they cried, “you must cure this dear lady who has come such a distance to ask your aid. She has done enough for God and for the Madonna for you to cure her.” And then, knocking at the urn of the Saint, as it were in threatening tones, they called out! “Do you hear us, Philomena? If you do not grant our prayers at once we will invoke you no more, it will be all over between us.
So much the worse for you great Saint.”

The uproar became so terrific that Pauline could scarcely endure it.

The next day, the feast itself, when Pauline received Holy Communion near the Urn of the Saint she experienced such frightful pains all over her body, and her heart beat so violently that she fainted way. At the sight of what they thought was death the crowds gave way to such cries and vociferations that it was thought safer to carry the chair, on which Pauline was lying, out of the Church. She, however, regained consciousness enough to make a sign to be left near the Urn, on which she fixed her eyes with an expression of the deepest affection. Suddenly an abundant flood of hot tears burst from her eyes, the color came back to her cheeks, a warm, healthy glow spread through her numbed limbs. Her soul was inundated with such heavenly joy that she believed that she was about to enter Heaven. But is was not death, it was life, Philomena the beloved had cured her, and she was reserved for long years of toil and labor which were to end in a glorious though bloodless martyrdom.

Although she felt that she was cured, Pauline dared not for some moments reveal the fact, dreading the outburst of enthusiasm that it was certain to provoke. However, the Superior of the Sanctuary understanding what had happened, ordered all the bells to peal and announce the miracle.

The crowds on hearing the news went frantic with joy and were literally beside themselves with delight. The Church and the streets rang with their shouts. Vivas, vivas resounded on all sides. It would be impossible to describe adequately this magnificent and soul-stirring demonstration of faith. “Viva Saint Philomena, Viva our dear Saint – Viva the great Virgin and Marty – Viva the good French Lady.

In their wild enthusiasm they rushed towards Pauline and wanted to carry her in triumph on their shoulders. This however, she absolutely refused to allow.

Idolized by the people, Pauline tarried in Mugnano for some time, her soul overflowing with joy. She passed long hours in sweet colloquy at the feet of her Heavenly benefactress and great were the graces she received, more even for soul than body. At last, when the day of departure arrived and she had to tear herself away from the Sanctuary, she took with her a great relic of Saint Philomena which she placed in a life-sized statue of the Saint. This was clad in royal robes, given the seat of honor in the carriage and was hailed by all as the “Princess of Paradise.

At the various stages of the journey, the potilions who had brought Pauline to Mugnano, more like a corpse than a living person, cried out: “A miracle, a miracle.” “Viva Saint Philomena.” At this cry crowds used to gather, bringing wreaths and garlands which they hung on the carriage, invoking at the same time the name of the Saint with the most intense piety and love.

Naples was profoundly moved on the arrival of the Miraculee. A thrill ran through the people. The Bishop received Pauline with great honor and, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio and the King of Sicily, presented the blood of St. Januarius for her to kiss and venerate.

Blessed and invoked on all sides, the “Princess of Paradise” and her escort soon arrived in Rome where, the better to enjoy the Holy Father’s surprise, Pauline had not announced her cure

When in the full enjoyment of health and strength she presented herself in the Vatican, all those who had heard of her were thunderstruck. “Is it really my daughter?” said the Holy Father. “Has she come back from the grave, or has God manifested in her favour the power of the Virgin Martyr?” “It is, indeed, I, most Holy Father,” she replied, “whom your Holiness saw so recently at the very door of death and on whom Saint Philomena has looked with pity. Since she has given me back my life deign, Holy Father, to give me permission to build a chapel in honor of my benefactress.”

“Most certainly,” replied the Pope, in accents full of joy and affection

Then he insisted on hearing from her own lips the details of the cure. In his delight and wonder he ordered her to walk up and down in his presence. “Again, again, quicker, quicker” he exclaimed laughing. “I want to be sure that what I see is not an apparition from the other world but really and truly my dear daughter from Fourvière.” And as his dear daughter walked backwards and forwards, she naturally, without meaning it, turned her back on the Pope. The Master of Ceremonies hastily reminded her that she must not turn her back on the Holy Father, whereupon the Pope said with a smile: “Nonsense, do not trouble about that. God Himself has made far greater exceptions in her favour.

The Sovereign Pontiff now ordered Pauline to remain in Rome for a whole year, that the miracle might be thoroughly investigated. During which he conferred on her many and great privileges, and gave orders for an immediate enquiry to be made into the cause of Saint Philomena
At the close of the year, with the blessing of Christ’s Vicar, Pauline returned to Fourvière.

Pauline-Marie Jaricot
Foundress of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the Association of the Living Rosary, born at Lyons, 22 July, 1799; died there, 9 January, 1862.

At the age of seventeen she began to lead a life of unusual abnegation and self-sacrifice, and on Christmas Day, 1816, took a vow perpetual virginity. In order to repair the sins of neglect and ingratitude committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she established a union of prayer among pious servant girls, the members of which were known as the “ Réparatrices du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus-Christ”. During an extended visit to her married sister at Saint-Vallier (Drôme), she succeeded in effecting a complete transformation in the licentious lives of the numerous girls employed by her brother-in-law. It was among them and the “Réparatrices” that she first solicited offerings for the foreign missions.

Systematic organization of such collections dates back to Her 1819 when she asked each of her intimate friends to act as a promoter by finding ten associates willing to contribute one cent of a week to the propagation of the Faith. One out of every ten promoters gathered the collections of their fellow-promoters ; through a logical extension of this system, all the offerings were ultimately remitted to one central treasurer. The Society for the Propagation of Faith at its official foundation (3 May, 1822) adopted this method, and easily triumphed over the opposition which had sought from the very start to thwart the realization of Pauline Jaricot’s plans. In 1826 she founded the Association of the Living Rosary. The fifteen decades of the Rosary were divided among fifteen associates, each of whom had to recite daily only one determined decade. A second object of the new foundation was the spread of good books and articles of piety. An undertaking of Pauline’s in the interest of social reform, though begun with prudence, involved her in considerable financial difficulties and ended in failure. The cause of her beatification and canonization has been introduced at Rome.

The Story of Saint Philomena

Three people, unknown to each other and living far apart, had what was apparently a revelation made to them about Philomena’s life. Compared – when they were known – these three accounts were found to be identical.

The best known recipient of the revelation was the Foundress of the Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mother Maria Luisa di Gesù, a Dominican Tertiary.

On the 3rd of August, 1833, this nun was praying after Communion, before a statue of Saint Philomena and she felt a great wish to know the true day of the Saint’s martyrdom, because, after all, August 10th was only the day the relics arrive in Mugnano – a great day for Mugnano, but of not so much importance to people who lived elsewhere. She had often thought of this, but suddenly the desire filled her heart. And then she felt that she must close her eyes…and that she could not open them to look at the statue any more…and a gracious and soft voice came from the direction of the statue, saying:

“Dear Sister, August the 10th was the day of my rest, my triumph, my birth into Heaven, my entering into the possession of such eternal goods as the human mind cannot possibly imagine. That is why my Heavenly Spouse disposed, by His most high decrees that my coming to Mugnano should be on the day which had seen my coming to Heaven! He prepared so many circumstances which should make my arrival at Mugnano glorious and triumphant; giving joy to all the people, even though the priest who brought me had absolutely decided that my translation should take place on the 5th of the month very quietly in his own house. My omnipotent Spouse impeded him with so many obstacles that the priest, although he did all he could to carry out his plan, could not do so. And so it came about that the said translation was made on the tenth, the day of my feast in Heaven”

The result of this happening as that Mother Maria Luisa was overwhelmed with sadness at the thought that she should fall so easy a prey to an illusion. She took refuge in the sacrament of penance, confessing the whole thing to her director. He was not so hasty in disposing of the matter. He tested it. He wrote off to Mugnano, and asked Don Francesco whether it was true that he had originally intended to have the translation on the 5th and quite quietly in his own house. And the reply came that after clearly how many obstacles prevented his innocent attempt to bring his resent from Rome quickly and quietly into his own chapel!

At that, Mother Luisa’ director gave her an obedience to ask Saint Philomena to tell her some more about her life and martyrdom. So Mother Luisa went to her, and begged her not to take any notice of her unworthiness, but to consider that it was a matter of holy obedience, and to reveal a little more. And there came a day when, being in her cell, she felt her eyes being closed and heard the gracious voice again.The following is the account of the life of Saint Philomena as taken from the official account of Fr. Di Lucia’s Relazione Istorici di Santa Filomena and subsequent annals from locutions received by Sr. Luisa di Gesu in August of 1833, revelations that received approval by the Holy Office, (presently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) on December 21, 1833.

My dear Sister, I am the daughter of a Prince who governed a small state in Greece. My mother is also of royal blood. My parents were without children. They were idolaters. They continually offered sacrifices and prayers to their false gods.

A doctor from Rome named Publius lived in the palace in the service of my father. This doctor professed Christianity. Seeing the affliction of my parents, by the impulse of the Holy Spirit, he spoke to them of Christianity, and promised to pray for them 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 assured them as the reward of their conversion. At the moment of my birth, they gave me the name of “Lumena,” an allusion to the light of Faith of which I had been, as it were, the fruit. The day of my Baptism they called me “Filumena,” or “Daughter of Light,” because on that day I was born to the Faith. The affection which my parents bore me was so great that they had me always with them.

It was on this account that they took me to Rome on a journey that my father was obliged to make on the occasion of an unjust war with which he was threatened by the haughty Diocletian. I was then thirteen years old. On our arrival in the capital of the world, we proceeded to the palace of the Emperor and were admitted for an audience. As soon as Diocletian saw me, his eyes were fixed upon me. He appeared to be pre-possessed in this manner during the entire time that my father was stating with animated feelings everything that could serve for his defense.

As soon as Father had ceased to speak, the Emperor desired him to be disturbed no longer, to banish all fear, to think only of living in happiness. These are the Emperor’s words, “I shall place at your disposal all the force of the Empire. I ask 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.

When we returned to our own dwelling, Father and Mother did all they could to induce me to yield to Diocletian’s wishes and theirs. I cried, “Do you wish, that for the love of a man, I should break the promise I have made to Jesus Christ? My virginity belongs to him. I can no longer dispose of it.” “But you were young then, too young,” answered my father, “to have formed such an engagement.” He joined the most terrible threats to the command that he gave me to accept the hand of Diocletian. The grace of my God rendered me invincible, and my father, not being able to make the Emperor relent, in order to disengage himself from the promise he had given, was obliged by Diocletian to bring me to the Imperial Chamber.

I had to withstand for some time beforehand a new attack from my father’s anger. My mother, uniting her efforts to his, endeavored to conquer my resolution. Caresses, threats, everything was employed to reduce me to compliance. At last, I saw both of my parents fall at my knees and say to me with tears in their eyes, “My child have pity on your father, your mother, your country, our country, our subjects.” “No! No,” I answered them. “My virginity, which I have vowed to God, comes before everything, before you, before my country. My kingdom is heaven.”

My words plunged them into despair and they brought me before the Emperor, who on his part did all in his power to win me. But his promises, his allurements, his threats, were equally useless. He then flew into a violent fit of anger and, influenced by the Devil, had me cast into one of the prisons of the palace, where he had me loaded with chains. Thinking that pain and shame would weaken the courage with which my Divine Spouse inspired me, he came to see me every day. After several days, the Emperor issued an order for my chains to be loosed, that I might take a small portion of bread and water. He renewed his attacks, some of which would have been fatal to purity had it not been for the grace of God.

The defeats which he always experienced were for me the preludes to new tortures. Prayer supported me. I did not cease 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 the Divine Son in her arms. “My daughter,” she said to me, “three days more of prison and after forty days you shall leave this state of pain.” Such happy news made my heart beat with joy, but as the Queen of Angels had added that I should quit my prison, to sustain, in frightful torments a combat far more terrible than those preceding, I fell instantly from joy to the most cruel anguish; I thought it would kill me. “Have courage, my child,” Mary then said to me; “are you unaware of the love of predilection that I bear for you? The name, which you received in baptism, is the pledge of it for the resemblance which it has to that of my Son and to mine. You are called Lumena, as your 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 you. Now nature, whose weakness humbles you, asserts its law. In the moment of combat, grace will come to lend you its force, and your Angel, who was also mine, Gabriel, whose name expresses strength, will come to your aid. I will recommend you especially to his care, as the well beloved among my children.” These words of the Queen of virgins gave me courage again, and the vision disappeared, leaving my prison filled with a celestial perfume. I experienced a joy out of this world. Something indefinable.

What the Queen of Angels had prepared me for was soon experienced. Diocletian, despairing of bending me, decided on public chastisement to offend my virtue. He condemned me to be stripped and scourged like the Spouse I preferred to him. These are his horrifying words. “Since she is not ashamed to prefer to an Emperor like me, a malefactor condemned to an infamous death by his own people, she deserves that my justice shall treat her as he was treated.” The prison guards hesitated to unclothe me entirely but they did tie me to a column in the presence of the great men of the court. They lashed me with violence until I was bathed in blood. My whole body felt like one open wound, but I did not faint.

The tyrant had me dragged back to the dungeon, expecting me to die. I hoped to join my heavenly Spouse. Two angels, shining with light, appeared to me in the darkness. They poured a soothing balm on my wounds, bestowing on me a vigor I did not have before the torture.

When the Emperor was informed by the change that had come over me, he had me brought before him. He viewed me with a greedy desire and tried to persuade me that I owed my healing and regained vigor to Jupiter, another god, that he, the Emperor, had sent to me. He attempted to impress me with his belief that Jupiter desired me to be Empress of Rome. Joining to these seductive words promises of great honor, including the most flattering words, Diocletian tried to caress me. Fiendishly, he attempted to complete the work of Hell which he had begun. The Divine Spirit to whom I am indebted for constancy in preserving my purity seemed to fill me with light and knowledge, and to all the proofs which I gave of the solidity of our Faith, neither Diocletian or his courtiers could find an answer.

Then, the frenzied Emperor dashed at me, commanding a guard to chain an anchor around my neck and bury me deep in the waters of the Tiber. The order was executed. I was cast into the water, but God sent me two angels who unfastened the anchor. It fell into the river mud, where it remains no doubt to the present time. The angels transported me gently in full view of the multitude upon the riverbank. I came back unharmed, not even wet, after being plunged with the heavy anchor.

When a cry of joy rose from the debauchers on the shore, and so many embraced Christianity by proclaiming their belief in my God, Diocletian attributed my preservation to secret magic. Then the Emperor had me dragged through the streets of Rome and shot with a shower of arrows. My blood flowed, but I did not faint. Diocletian thought that I was dying and commanded the guards to carry me back to the dungeon. Heaven honored me with a new favor there. I fell into a sweet sleep, and I found myself, on awaking, perfectly cured.

Diocletian learned about 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. Again, the archers bent their bows. They gathered all their strength, but the arrows refused to second their intentions. The Emperor was present. In a rage, he called me a magician, and thinking that the action of fire could destroy the enchantment, ordered the darts to be made red in a furnace and directed against my heart. He was obeyed, but these darts, after having passed through a part of the space which they were to cross to come to me, took a quite contrary direction and returned to strike those by whom they had been hurled. Six of the archers were killed by them. Several among them renounced paganism, and the people began to render public testimony to the power of God that protected me.

These murmurs and acclamations infuriated the tyrant. He determined to hasten my death by ordering my head to be cut off. My soul took flight towards my heavenly spouse, who placed me, with the crown of virginity and the palm of martyrdom, in a distinguished place among the elect. The day that was so happy for me and saw me enter into glory was Friday, the third hour after mid-day, the same hour that saw my Divine Master expire.

What is noteworthy from a historical perspective is not only that this revelation was confirmed y two other individuals unknown to each other (one a priest, the other an historian), but these other confirmatory historical facts: 1) The Third Century Roman Emperor was known for executing Christians by the use of arrows, an exemplified by St. Sebastian; 2) The Third Century Roman Emperor was also known for killing Christians by tying anchors around their necks and throwing them into the water; 3) The reference to “Lumena” — the name given to her at birth, “Light” — and then at Baptism, “Fi Lumena”, “Daughter of Light”, may explain the arrangement of the tiles found at the grave (“Lumena”, her first given name, was on the first tile).

History of the Devotion

Pontifical Documents

The Liturgic And Popular Devotion In The Pontifical Documents

  1. Introduction

Before the decree of the Congregation of Rites of 1961, Saint Philomena was venerated and her figure was present in all the hagiography books (the writings and critical studies of the lives of saints). After 1961, not only was she removed from the liturgical calendar, but in the majority of hagiography books she was treated as a symbol for all legends. Therefore, just like the other “obscure” Saints, even among Saint Philomena’s devotees there were those who continued to venerate her more than ever, while others, confused, fell by the wayside. The purpose of this chapter is to stimulate the reflection of both groups. To the first, we want to give a solid base for their faith. To the second, we want to insinuate doubt, encouraging them to critically evaluate their own opinions. If so many High Pontiffs have approved her Devotion, Saint Philomena is a reality, and cannot be regarded as only legendary.

  1. The liturgical Devotion in the pontifical documents

a – Leo XII, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on March 15, 1826 only granted the celebration of the solemn Mass de Communi Virginum et Mart. In the day of Saint Philomena’s feast, in her Sanctuary of Mugnano del Cardinale, as long as it was not a fixed Sunday occurring on the Office Double of First class.

b – Gregory XVI, with decree of September 6, 1834, granted the singing of the Mass even on a Sunday, as long as the feast falls on the 10th of August, day of the Translation of the Saint’s body.

c – The Sacred Congregation of Rites, with decree of September 6, 1834, granted to the secular and regular clergy of the Diocese of Nola the possibility to recite, on the 11th of August, the Office with the Mass of de Comm. Virg. et Mart., primo loco with the Fourth Lesson proprius in honor of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr. Pope Gregory XVI on January 30, 1837 approved such decree.

d – Gregory XVI, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on March 16, 1839 grants the clergy of Mugnano to recite the Office of Saint Philomena V. and M. on her feast with double major rite.

e – Gregory XVI, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on January 1, 1841 promotes the Office of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr to double rite of second class without Octave in her own Church of Mugnano.

f – Pius IX, on the request of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon (fig. 17) in 1854 proclaims Saint Philomena second Patroness of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where the devotion towards the glorious Martyr is widely spread.

g – Pius IX, on January 11, 1855, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, granting the clergy of Mugnano the new Office with its own Mass in honor of Saint Philomena V. and M., with the double rite of second class.

h – Pius IX, on January 15, 1857, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on request of Mons. Joseph Formisano, Bishop of Nola, extending to the secular and regular clergy of the diocese of Nola the concession to celebrate with the double minor rite the proper Office with the Mass in honor of Saint Philomena V. and M. already approved and granted to the clergy of Mugnano and other dioceses.

i – Pius IX, on April 15, 1858, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites that grants the foreign priests who go to Mugnano to visit the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena, the indult to celebrate once only the Saint’s votive mass at her altar, although it would require the Office of double rite, excluding the double rite days of first and second class, the holidays, the vigils and the privileged octaves.

l – Pius IX, with Brief Pontificate of December 9, 9, grants temporarily to the Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano the privilege to use the pontifical insignias to accomplish all the sacred functions in the Sanctuary.

m – Leo XIII, on January 14, 1896, grants the Patronage Feast of Saint Philomena.

n – Leo XIII, with Brief Pontificate, grants the privileged altar in the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena.

o – Leo XIII, promotes the feast of Saint Philomena to second class rite for the whole Diocese of Nola.

  1. The popular Devotion in the pontificate documents

a – Leo XII, with re-script of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgence, on May 10, 1826, declares the altar of Saint Philomena as daily privileged.

b – Gregory XVI promotes Saint Philomena to Patroness of the Living Rosary.

c – Pius IX more than once grants indulgences, both plenary and partials, and other privileges to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena with proper decrees bearing the following dates: 16.10.1849; 4.5.1852; 4.1.1853; 31.12.1853; 18.3.1859; 26.6.1863; 3.7.1863.

d – Leo XIII, on December 15, 1883, approves the devotion of the “Cord of Saint Philomena” and on April 4, 1884 he enriches it of precious indulgences.

e – Leo XIII, on September 24, 1889, grants to France alone, the title and privilege of Archconfraternity to the work of Saint Philomena.

f – Pius X, on May 21, 1912, extends to the whole Church the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena. This Pius association is proclaimed Universal Archconfraternity. In the Brief Apostolic, with regard to the historical authenticity of Saint Philomena, ordains that: “The current statements are and remain always fixed, valid and effective; in this way it has to be regularly judged; and if it is proceeded in another way, it will be null and void, whatever its authority”.

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Fig. 17 – Ferdinand II of Bourbon (1840-1859), great King of Naples. He first married Marie Christine of Savoy, then Marie Theresa of Austria. In the Sanctuary Treasury there are their precious “ex voto”. The whole Royal Family was very devoted to Saint Philomena and very munificent toward her Sanctuary. With Ferdinand II, the Neapolitan Kingdom excelled for prestige, power and wealth. The Army and military fleet were the best ones in Italy. The mercantile one was one of the most important in the world. Ferdinand II strengthened agriculture, commerce and industry. Sharp and dynamic, he was open to culture and progress. The money circulation in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was double of all the other Italian States put together! He protected the Church and Pius IX. He died prematurely, was succeeded by his son Francis II (1836-1894) from whom the sceptre will quickly be removed, originating the decline of the whole glorious and flourishing South of Italy.

Papal Devotion

Introduction

The importance of the cult of Saint Philomena is evident not only from the official Church documents, but also from the personal devotions that Popes that have had towards our Martyr.

Nearly all the Popes, from 1802 to 1940, have shown a great veneration for Saint Philomena (fig. 18). Some of them have visited the Sanctuary of the Saint when they were Cardinals of The Holy Roman Church. Pius IX, apart from having been miraculously cured by the Saint and spreading her devotion in the diocese of Imola of which he was Pastor, as a Pope he visited the Sanctuary in Mugnano to venerate the sacred body of Philomena the martyr. The devotion of the Popes toward our martyr was great, as shown by their many recognitions, privileges and ex voto. It follows below, beside their names, the period of their pontificate.

2. The Popes’ devotions

a – Pius VII (1800-1823). He accomplished the greatest act, donating to Mugnano the body of Saint Philomena. As previously mentioned, the finding of the martyr’s body occurred on the 25th of May 1802, the second year of his pontificate. It was not easy for a priest or even a bishop to obtain the body of a martyr, especially if the name was known. Mons. Bartolomeo De Cesare, new Bishop of Potenza, expressed to the High Pontiff the desire and the zeal of Don Francesco De Lucia: Pius VII was moved and donated the body of Saint Philomena.

b – Leo XII (1823-1829). On the 7th of December 1827, he received from Mons. Filippo Ludovici the second edition of Relazione Istorica (Historic Relations) from Don Francesco De Lucia: The Pontiff, who had already heard from different places the echo of the miracles performed by Saint Philomena, wanted immediately to look through the book, and, full of admiration, he exclaimed: “She is a great Saint!”.

c – Gregory XVI (1831-1846). Because of his decrees, promulgated with the greatest caution, he can be considered the Pope that most promoted the cult of Saint Philomena. It is with his decree of 1837 that the re-script of the Congregation of Rites of 1834 was solemnly confirmed. The Pope himself wanted to donate to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena a precious medallion with his effigy, a big silver lamp with golden decorations and a golden chalice, which are kept in the Sanctuary Treasury.

d – Pius IX (1846-1878). He was a great devotee of Saint Philomena. This devotion began even before he was ordained priest, which is when he was cured from his epilepsy by the intercession of our Saint. When he was Bishop of Imola, even his secretary, Don Joseph Stella, was cured in 1834 by intercession of Saint Philomena. At the same time, the day in which the Oratorians displayed to public veneration a picture of Saint Philomena on the main altar of their Church, he decided to celebrate in person the Holy Mass.

When he became Pope, at his own expense, he helped a poor young man to become a priest; he was called Palmieri and had been cured by Saint Philomena. Struck by cholera, he had been left blind and was miraculously cured by the Saint on the 11th of August 1849. Afterwards, in front of the great urn of Saint Philomena, he expressed the desire to become a priest.

During his stay in the Royal Palace of Portici, Pius IX, accompanied by Ferdinand II of Bourbon and the royal family, on November 7, 1849 came in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Mugnano, where he celebrated the Mass at the altar of Saint Philomena (fig. 19).

Amongst the liturgical privileges granted by him and described in chapter V, we certainly must remember the concession of its own Office with Mass, a rare honor.

A few weeks before his death, the Pope sent to Mugnano the Superior of the Holy Spirit, to donate to the Saint the splendid chalice that the Confederation of the Catholic Clubs of Belgium had donated to him in occasion of his 50th episcopacy (August 24, 1877). The chalice is kept in the Sanctuary Treasury.

e – Leo XIII (1878-1903). He came in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Mugnano when he was still Archbishop of Benevento. The Pontiff of the great social encyclicals, the sociologist Pope, as he was known, never forgot the Saint of Mugnano. According to the testimony of the Abbot Petit, director of the Work of Saint Philomena in Paris, who was more than once received in audience, every time that somebody mentioned Saint Philomena, the face of Leo XIII would break into a sweet smile.

On December 15, 1883, Leo XIII approved the use of a red and white cord in honor of the Saint. Furthermore, on September 24, 1889 he granted the title of Archconfraternity (solely to France) to the Work of Saint Philomena, and in 1902 he wanted to celebrate in Rome, in Priscilla’s Catacombs, the first centenary for the finding of the saint martyr’s body. Furthermore, he sent two gifts to the Sanctuary in Mugnano: in 1888 a nice pastoral and on the May 25, 1902, on the centenary of the finding of the relics, a wonderful missal. These gifts are kept in the Sanctuary Treasury.

f – St Pius X (1903-1914). He is the Pope that in 1905 proclaimed Blessed the Curate of Ars, on the first centenary of the translation of Saint Philomena’s Body from Rome to Mugnano. The pope wanted to participate from afar in our feast. On the 8th of August, three days before the celebrations in Mugnano, he instructed P. Remer, a fervent devotee of Saint Philomena, to bring to our Sanctuary one of his golden rings to offer to Saint Philomena. On this occasion Mons. Agnello Renzullo, Bishop of Nola, authorized the papal delegate to open the urn, and he slipped the precious ring on the finger of the wax effigy that contains the Saint’s bones.

Pius X loved Saint Philomena very much and he was truly saddened by the Philomenian question about the originality of the stones found in front of her tomb. All of this results from the report that the Abbot Petit wrote about the audience granted to him by Pius X on June 16, 1907. On that occasion Petit offered the Pope a relic of the Curate of Ars and he personally read the enclosed dedication that, of course, referred to Saint Philomena. Petit recounts that when the Pope reached the name of the young Saint, and the well known question came up, he vigorously exclaimed:

“Ah, Saint Philomena! I am very saddened by what is written regarding this topic. How can they possibly write these things?”. And he vigorously displayed his sorrow and disappointment, regarding the “Philomena Question”, in these terms: “How come they do not realize that the big argument in favor of the cult of Saint Philomena is the curate of Ars? Through her, in her name, thanks to her intercession, he has received countless graces, continuous prodigies. His devotion towards her was very well known by everybody, he continuously recommended her […]. It is ascertained, it is clear by now that the soul that formed these sacred remains was a pure and saintly soul that the Church has declared of a virgin and martyr. This soul has been so loved by God, has been so appreciated by the Holy Spirit, that it has obtained the most marvellous graces for those that recurred to her intercession […]”.

The Pope spoke with ardent conviction. We admire his veneration and confidence for Saint Philomena.

Saint Pius X, on the May 21, 1912, extended to the whole Church the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena: the highest tribute from a pope who became Saint to a great Saint!

g – Benedict XV (1914-1922) and Pius XI (1922-1939). There are no detailed records about the devotion towards Saint Philomena by the Popes after Pius X (fig. 20). Looking through the ex voto present in the Treasury of the Sanctuary, however, the names of Benedict XV and Pius IX do stand out.

The first one gifted the Sanctuary a “silver Lamb for peace”, the second a golden chalice.

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Fig. 18 – The bronze portal of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano, work of the sculptor Guglielmo Savini.

At the bottom are represented the High Pontiffs who have favoured the great propagation of the cult of our Saint.

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Fig. 19 – Pope Pius IX. On November 7, 1849, accompanied by King Ferdinand II of Bourbon and the Royal Family, he came in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Mugnano del Cardinale, where he celebrated the Holy Mass at the altar of Saint Philomena.

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Fig. 20 – Some of the Popes who were devoted to Saint Philomena and were propagators of her cult.

Many Pontiffs have sent gifts to the Sanctuary of Mugnano del Cardinale, some of which are listed below:

  1. Gregory XVI: medallion with his effigy
  2. Pius IX: chalice Confederation of Catholic Clubs of Belgium
  3. Leo XIII: pastoral and missal
  4. Pius X: stole
  5. Benedict XV: “silver Lamb for peace”
  6. Pius XI: chalice

Devotion of Saints and Great Devotees

1. Introduction

The Saints, in the economy of salvation, have the purpose of being witnesses to the faithful of the light of Christ. The greatness of a Saint is measured also by the number of devotees that, following his/her steps, have taken the road to perfection.

Tertulliano used to affirm that the martyrs’ blood represents the seed for the birth of many more Christians. In this instance Philomena’s blood has become a powerful instrument of salvation for countless faithful of every social class. Apart from Popes, even Saints, Blessed and Venerable of the Church have venerated the Virgin and Martyr of Mugnano del Cardinale: a true record!

Only a few of them will be talked about here for the glory of God and Saint Philomena, our Saint.

2. Saints that have been devotees of Saint Philomena.

a – Saint Pius X (1835-1914).

The devotion of this Pope for the Saint has been dealt with in the chapter of the devotions of the Popes and the ex voto offered by them to the Sanctuary of Mugnano. Here we just have to add that the great devotion and respect of Pius X for the Curate of Ars, highly devoted to Saint Philomena, brought him to love our Martyr with deeper intensity.

b – Saint John Marie Vianney, Curé of Ars (1876-1859).

Amongst all the admirable souls, ardent with devotion for Saint Philomena, the first place belongs to the saint Curate of Ars.

It was Pauline Jaricot who talked to him about the Saint of Mugnano and introduced her to him. It was she that gifted him with one of her relics. There is not a biography of the Curate of Ars where our Saint is not mentioned.

In France he was the greatest promoter of the devotion towards the Saint of Mugnano. He had a statue of Saint Philomena placed in his parish church, and then built a Basilica in her honor in Ars. This Basilica, built in the same style of the one in Fourvière, which dominates over Lyon, was terminated after the death of Saint John Marie Vianney (fig. 21).

The saint Curate attributed to the intercession of our Saint, all the numerous miracles performed in Ars.

c – Saint Peter Louis Marie Chanel (1803-1841).

Saint Peter Louis Marie Chanel was born in Cuet in the Diocese of Belley, to which Ars belongs. He was missionary and first martyr (April 28,.1841) of the mysterious and wild Oceania.

His mutual devotion for Saint Philomena came from the Curate of Ars. When he embarked in 1836 for the Archipelago of Tonga, he had in his breviary three pictures: Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint Philomena. To the young Saint of Mugnano he would turn in the difficult moments of his apostolate amongst the mistrustful and hostile indigenous. Although not expert in constructions, he started building, trustful in “a Saint for whom he harbors a great devotion”. In honor of the Saint he recited a novena every year in the period of her feast. To one of the first baptized he gave the name Marie Philomeno.

d – Saint Peter Julian Marie Eymard (1811- 1868).

His greatest merit was the foundation in 1856 of the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament. He was a very close friend of the Curate of Ars whom he visited regularly. He was also a disciple and friend of Father Colin. Like him, he had a great devotion towards Saint Philomena. He loved to kneel down in front of the Saint’s reliquary. In 1854 he was cured by the martyr, after a novena recited in her honor.

e – Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865).

Great devotee of Saint Philomena, she founded in 1802 the Society of the Sacred Heart. In the difficult times of her life and her religious order, Mother Barat invoked with faith the Saint of Mugnano.

In her biography she states that on the 11th of September 1846 one of her novices, Miss Monestrol, needed to undergo surgery. While the doctors were preparing the surgical instruments, Barat asked the novice to make a vow to leave for the Americas and she placed her hands on the affected area. The doctors afterwards ascertained that the patient was healed and, stunned, stated that what had just happened was unexplainable according to science. Barat attributed her healing to Saint Philomena, whom she had invoked.

f – Saint John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860).

Saint John Nepomucene Neumann was born in Bohemia on the 28th of March 1811. He finished his theological studies, but for a series of circumstances, he could not be ordained priest. He then decided to go to France and from there he embarked for the United States reaching Manhattan in 1836.

After his arrival in America he was received by Bishop John Dubois and ordained priest in the same year. In 1840 he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded by Saint Alfonso Maria de Liguori. He dedicated himself to the missionary activity in the States of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and in Christian education for youth, founding many parish catholic schools.

In 1844 during his first appointment as Superior of the Order of the Redeemer and of Rector of the old Church of Saint Philomena in Pittsburgh, he committed himself with great zeal to the building of the new church in honor of Saint Philomena. The old one, called the “Farm Church” had been situated in an abandoned industrial building which had been demolished. Trustful of the help of the Martyr, “to whom God denies nothing for whomever invokes her” and without worrying about the money, he completed the building of the new Church of Saint Philomena in 1846. This was an accomplishment thought impossible and of great religious advancement.

When appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852, he intensified his missionary and pastoral work and built five more churches and began building the Philadelphia Cathedral. After a saintly and industrious life, he left this earth for Heaven in 1860. Thanks to his pastoral work and his missionary zeal, the devotion to our Saint grew solid roots in Pennsylvania.

g – Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917).

Saint Francesca Cabrini was born in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano (Milan) on the 15th of July 1850 into a deeply catholic family.

In 1880, possessed by a strong zeal for a missionary life, she founded the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cotogno (Milan). In 1896 she went to Rome and in the Church of Jesus made a vow to go east as a missionary where she founded the Mother House of the Institute.

Urged by Pope Leo XIII, she left for New York in 1889 with other sisters to begin missionary activity helping Italian emigrants.

On her numerous journeys, especially the ones from New York to Buenos Aires and through the Andes, she always carried with her a small statue of Saint Philomena. We can say that Cabrini, and the Bishop of Philadelphia Mons. Neumann, had the merit of promoting the devotion of the Saint in America more than anyone else. . Saint Francesca died in Chicago in 1917. Her body is kept in the City of New York. Important relics can be found in Chicago and Cotogno. Pius XII declared her Universal Patroness of the Emigrants.

h – Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968).

For Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Saint Philomena was the “Princess of Heaven”. His devotion for the Saint began within his family, where his sister was given her name.

The devotion was strengthened at his novitiate place in Morcone, where at the end of July, the feast of Saint Philomena was celebrated with great solemnity. This feast is continuing today in the Convent of San Giovanni Rotondo (Foggia) in the Capital of the Cappuccini where the Saint was highly venerated. After the liturgical reform of 1961, Father Pio used to imperatively reply to whoever dared to doubt the existence of the Saint: “for the love of God! It might well be that her name is not Philomena!, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them”. This is the wisest reply: who wants to understand, will understand!

i – Saint Maddalena Gabriella of Canossa (1774-1835).

Maddalena Gabriella Marquis of Canossa was born in Verona on the 1st of May 1774. In 1808, no longer tied by family commitments, she founded the Order of the Canossians (Work of the Charity daughters), an institution of great religious and human advancement.

This religious order dedicated itself to the teaching of catechism, the education of poor young girls and the assistance of the sick in hospitals. Mother Madeleine continuously urged her religious sisters towards the love of Christ and the Virgin of Sorrows, and she entrusted them to the patronage of Saint Philomena (cfr. l’Epistolario della Beata Maddalena di Canossa (the Letters of the Blessed Madeleine of Canossa)).

In a letter she urged Rose Polli, Vice Superior in Milan, to pray to Saint Philomena, “by God distinguished with such miracles that in Romagna she is now called the Thaumaturge.” Superior (letter of July 14, 1834): testimony of love and faith towards our Saint. Many other passages invoke the patronage of Saint Philomena when required by her sisters. They are collected in volume III/5 of her letters. She died in 1835.

l – Saint Hannibal Marie Di Francia (1851-1927).

A native of Messina, he is unanimously recognized as the Apostle of the prayer for vocations, and Father of the poor and orphans. He founded two religious families (Rogationists and the Daughters of the Divine Zeal). Referring to Saint Philomena he used to say: “Saint Philomena has become famous for the great miracles that the Lord has worked through her.”

m – Saint Damien de Veuster (1840 – 1889).

Father Damien, Belgian missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, spent his life spiritually assisting and curing the lepers relegated to the isle of Molokai in the Hawaiian archipelago. A great devotee of Saint Philomena, he dedicated to her the first chapel he built in the leper colony (cfr.: F. TROCHU, op. cit., p. 200).

Consumed himself by the horrible disease, he died at 49 years of age, leaving hell for Heaven. He fought stoutly against discrimination of the lepers, and his bright testimony generated important results. In the same year of his death (1889) an Association for the fight against leprosy was founded in London. Many more initiatives followed all over the world in remembrance of this heroic Father of the lepers. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promoted this martyr to the glory of the Altars for his love towards the most unlucky and marginalized sons of God.

3. Blessed devotees of Saint Philomena

a – The Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926).

Even the Blessed Bartolo Longo, founder of the famous Sanctuary of Pompeii and of its other works, was a great devotee of Saint Philomena. In 1896 he wrote “Life of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr”. It was based on the “revelations” of the mystic Neapolitan Sister Marie Louise of Jesus,

On the June 9, 1896, the Lawyer Bartolo Longo with his consort countess Mariana De Fusco, came in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena. He served at a Mass and before leaving wrote in the visitors’ registry: “Today, June 9, 1896, I have had the ineffable consolation of offering to the renowned Virgin and Martyr Saint Philomena a sample of my writings with “children of prisoners”, which together with my little orphans and the works of Pompeii I have placed under the patronage of the great Preacher of Christ, Saint Philomena”.

Furthermore, in the June 1902 issue of “The Rosary and the New Pompeii” (p.204), Bartolo Longo published a brief work called The first centenary of the invention and translation of the body of Saint Philomena V. and M., where it can be read amongst other things: “On May 25th of this year was the first solemn centenary of the invention of the body of Saint Philomena V. and M. in Rome […] grateful to the illustrious Virgin and Martyr for favours which I received, I decided to give my homage and pay my respects, by writing about her ‘Life’ in a booklet edited by the Typography School of the Prisoners’ Sons”.

b – The Blessed Anne Marie Taigi (1769-1837).

The Blessed Anne Marie Taigi was a fervent devotee of Saint Philomena and often personally experienced her powerful intercession. Amongst other things, she received the healing of one of her young nieces. The Jesuit P. Gabriel Bouffier affirms that this admirable mother invoked the young Martyr from the Catacombs every night and made her family invoke her also. She had her image displayed in her house and on death’s door, like a good Christian mother, after having given the last recommendations to her sons, she placed them under the special protection of Saint Philomena, of whom she had always propagated the cult.

c – The Blessed Pius IX (1792-1878).

This Pope’s devotion was deep and sincere throughout his whole life. In 1849 he visited the Sanctuary. His name can be read in every chapter of this book: he is present in the miracles chapter (he, when young, was healed by intercession of the Saint); he is present in the liturgical and devotional documents chapter; he is present in the ex voto and the devotion of the Popes for the Saint chapter. Amongst other things, he proclaimed her Second Patron in the vast Neapolitan Kingdom.

  1. Venerable and Servants of God devotees of Saint Philomena

a – The Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot (1799-1862).

Pauline Marie Jaricot, founder of the Living Rosary and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was highly appreciated by Pope Gregory XVI who wanted to personally receive her when she passed through Rome. She had been directed to Mugnano to invoke her healing to our Saint. The astonishing miracle of her healing, which he verified in person, induced Pope Gregory XVI to sign the well known decree of 1837.

It was she that gave the relic of Saint Philomena to the Curate of Ars and she was one of the promoters of Philomena’s devotion in Lyon and in the whole of France.

b – The Servant of God Sister Marie Louise of Jesus (1799-1875).

Originally known as Marie Carmela Ascione, she wore the cloth of the Dominican sisters by age 18, taking the name of Sister Marie Louise of Jesus. Later on, intent on spreading of the cult of Saint Philomena and by the echoes of her miracles in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, she founded the religious family of the “Oblates of Our Lady of Sorrows and Saint Philomena”. From her written work and her autobiography transpires simplicity and clarity of style, together with a deep ascetic doctrine.

Her devotion for our Saint was deep and sincere. However, her “revelations” on the life and martyrdom of Saint Philomena (fig. 22) although answering the need to know more about her life, has effectively brought our Saint towards the legend, detaching her from history. In truth the cult of Saint Philomena did not start from her revelations, nor has it been divulged through them.

The Church, in all the official acts in relation to the cult of our Martyr, has never taken it into account. There is however the sincere devotion of Sister Marie Louise and the beneficial influence that her written work has given to the veneration of Saint Philomena.

 

c – The Venerable Marie Christine of Savoy (1812-1836).

Born in Cagliari in 1812, the Venerable Marie Christine of Savoy – first wife of King Ferdinand II and mother of Francis II, last King of Naples – was a Christian and charitable heroine in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. She had a great devotion to Saint Philomena. With her husband Ferdinand II, she came for the first time to the Sanctuary of Mugnano on April 11, 1835. The Pius Queen had been married for three years, but she was not fruitful. Immediately after her visit to the Sanctuary, the happy news about the conception of the heir to the throne was announced. The Queen attributed her pregnancy to the intercession of Saint Philomena. As a sign of recognition, she decided to have a female orphanage built in Mugnano dedicated to the Saint, which was built by her august consort. She actually came ten times to Mugnano and her ex voto are kept in the Sanctuary Treasury. She left this earthly life for Heaven on the 31st of January 1836. She was just over twenty-three years old and she had been a Queen for just three years. After the solemn funerals, her body was buried in the Neapolitan Basilica of Saint Clare, where she rests today. The death of the young sovereign generated great mourning and increased the fame of her sanctity. People rushed to pray at the tomb of the “Saint Queen”. Many prodigies happened through her intercession. Pius IX in 1853 proclaimed her as Venerable and Pius XI in 1937 declared heroic her virtues. In numerous biographies the great devotion of Marie Christine of Savoy (fig. 23) towards Saint Philomena is highlighted.

d – The Servant of God, Julie Colbert (1785-1864).

Julie Colbert, Marchioness of Barolo, imposed herself as one of the most extraordinary figures of the nineteenth century. She was very devoted to Saint Philomena and greatly attached to her Sanctuary. She promoted the devotion of the Saint in the city of Turin.

At Napoleon’s court she met the Count Carl Tancredi Falletti who became her husband in 1814. Not having any children, she dedicated herself to charity work and prisoner rehabilitation. She dedicated herself to this work of social and Christian promotion and donated all of her huge wealth to them. She founded the Daughters of Jesus Good Pastor. The Marchioness of Barolo visited the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in January 1834 and in February 1852, at which time she left a silver heart with a letter for the grace received. Barolo entitled a small, beautiful hospital for sick and crippled young girls to the saint.

e – The Servant of God Andrew Filomeno Garcia (1800-1853).

Amongst the devotees of Saint Philomena there is the Servant of God Brother Andrew Filomeno Garcia who, for his simplicity, calls to mind the Curate of Ars.

Native of the Canary Islands (1800), emigrated to Montevideo when he was about twenty-three years of age, became mendicant friar at the Franciscans of Santiago. For many years he travelled through the cities and the countryside of Chile, carrying in one hand a small box for offerings, in the other a big picture of Saint Philomena that he would show to everybody. To the ones who would stop to listen to him, Friar Garcia would tell about the miracles of the small Saint, leaving them enriched.

He also composed prayers and hymns in honor of Saint Philomena. He died in Santiago in 1853. Two years later, his body, found in pristine condition, was buried in the Church of his monastery, at the altar of Saint Philomena.

f – The Venerable Father Vito Michael Di Netta (1787-1849).

Vito Michael Di Netta, known as the Apostle of the Calabries, was born in Vallata (Avellino) on February 26, 1787. He was a missionary heroic figure of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer founded by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, whose preaching in Nola has remained memorable.

He was called by God after having terminated his studies at the Seminar of Saint Angelo of the Lombards. He joined the novitiate of the Father Redeemers of Saint Angelo at Cupolo, near Benevento. He was ordained priest on the 30th of March 1811 and was sent to the Calabries where he preached popular missions, covering the region by land and by sea. He worked mainly in Catanzaro and Tropea where in 1822 he became Rector of the Monastery of the Father Redeemers and where he died in an air of purity on the 3rd of December 1849. He was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

Father Di Netta nurtured a great devotion towards Saint Philomena whom he always invoked in times of the danger he faced as a missionary. The testimony of his fervent devotion towards Saint Philomena is as follows:

“Once he was with Father De Blasio and Ilario at sea, heading for a mission, when suddenly they were surprised by a terrible storm, finding them face to face with death. Only he remained calm, while the others were crying dismayed. He then said: ‘Sons, do not fear, we will survive; let us make a vow to Saint Philomena to celebrate in Her honor the Mass, as soon as we reach the beach, and nothing bad will happen to us.’ ”

After pronouncing the promise, the storm died and everything went calm, and his friends stated to have seen beside him, during the danger, a young girl with an angelic face, whom they believed was Saint Philomena”.

g – The Venerable Jean Claude Colin (1790-1875).

Father J.C. Colin was a great devotee of Saint Philomena. Orphaned at the age of fourteen, he joined the Seminary of Saint-Jodard. He then moved on to the ones of Alix, Verrières and finally Saint Irénée of Lyon, where he completed his theological and philosophical formation. Ordained priest in 1816, he founded the Society of Mary. On April 29, 1836 Pope Gregory XVI approved the Marist Congregation and in 1837 Colin was elected its General Superior.

The Marists, following his guidance, dedicated themselves to the education of the young in local and foreign missions, especially in the remote Oceania. They reaped great results of religious and human promotion. Father Colin used to turn to Saint Philomena with the same love and trust of the Curate of Ars. In Belley, in an old Capuchin Monastery, he founded an oratory dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, in which he placed a statue of Saint Philomena.

  1. Distinguished and common faithful, devotees of Saint Philomena.

a – Mother Mary Theresa (1809-1863).

Mother Mary Theresa, foundress of the Congregation of the Healing Adoration, owes her vocation to Saint Philomena. This religious woman, previously known as Théodelinde Dubouché, young happy and light-hearted, used to study painting. It was through this road that God led her towards the most beautiful heights. While painting a picture of Saint Philomena, which is now in the Cathedral of Bayeux, Mlle. Dubouché received her vocation and conversion.

 

b – The Abbot Louis Petit (1852-1914).

After the death of Don Francesco De Lucia (1847), of John Marie Vianney (1859) and of Pauline Jaricot (1862), another great apostle of Saint Philomena distinguished himself. He was the Abbot Louis Petit (fig. 24), who worked in Paris. Born in Colombey-Les-Deux-Églises on June 15, 1852, he cultivated within his family the love for Saint Philomena. He was a seminarian when his parents moved to Paris, living in the area of the parish church of Saint-Gervais. This church was the only one in the capital with the cult of Saint Philomena well established. In 1872 he founded the periodical L’Echo de Sainte Philoméne, which he managed to publish for two years. Not yet a priest, he also published Histoire du culte de Sainte Philoméne, “History of the cult of Saint Philomena.”

He was ordained in 1879 and two years later joined the Congregation of Saint Vincent de Paoli, where he was director of the Messager de Sainte Philoméne until his death. The purpose of his life had been the spreading of the cult of Saint Philomena and he created a center from which to radiate it.

In the Parisian district of High Vaugirard, he built the lovely chapel of Saint Philomena in Rue Dantzig. From here his written work and his Messager reached France and the rest of the world. In 1883 he received the approval of the Cord of Saint Philomena from the Sacred Congregation of Rites and spread its devotion through his periodical.

Louis Petit also had the inspiration to found the Work of Saint Philomena, with the intention of giving Christian education to the working classes. He joyfully witnessed this pious association become a Universal Archconfraternity with an official act of Pius X on May 21, 1912.

The first century of the finding of Saint Philomena’s bones was solemnly celebrated in Rome in 1902. He had the honor of closing these celebrations with a sung Mass.

When the Abbot Petit came to Mugnano to venerate Saint Philomena in 1883 and 1902, he uses the wonderful missal donated by Pope Leo XIII for the celebration of the Sacred Mass. He died in Paris in 1914, full of merits towards our Saint whom he deeply loved and venerated.

c – An endless list.

In the whole world, countless individuals of every social condition have venerated Saint Philomena. Here are mentioned only a few:

Father Joseph Varin, one of the restorers of the Society of Jesus in France, used to pronounce at least forty times a day the name of the Saint and celebrated a mass in the Sanctuary dedicated to her.

Father O’Sullivan spread the cult of Saint Philomena in Portugal, Ireland, and USA.

Many writers and artists have had admiration and devotion towards the Saint:

  • Michael De Saint Pierre, French catholic novelist, in his biography about the Curate of Ars highlights great fondness for Saint Philomena;
  • Jean Dupré consecrated to Saint Philomena the first fruits of his works;
  • the Italian poets Joseph Borghi and Sylvius Pellico wrote hymns in honor of the “Pure Virgin” and the “Invincible Martyr”.

Many Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, from all over the world have come to give homage to Saint Philomena in Mugnano and have left their ex voto:

  • Card. Louis Ruffo Scilla, Archbishop of Naples, who wanted to donate a statue of Saint Philomena to the Sanctuary; the English Cardinal Thomas Weld;
  • Card. James Philip Franzoni, Prefect of Faith Propaganda;
  • Card. Louis Lambruschini, Secretary of Pius IX; Card. Angelo Mai, Prefect of the Vatican Library; Card. Gabriel della Gerga Sermattei;
  • Card. Philip Judge Caracciolo, Archbishop of Naples.
  • In 1837 the Archbishop of Cesarea, went to Mugnano.
  • In 1852 the Sanctuary was visited by: the Bishop of Chicago, Mons. John James Oliviero Vande Velede; Mons. Vincent Spaccapietra, Archbishop of Smirne, John Hilary Bost, Bishop of Merida in the Venezuelan Republic.

Rightfully Ippolito writes: “The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano has by now become renowned for the continuous visits and pilgrimages of foreigners who expressly come from the most remote corners of the earth. Ecclesiastics, noblemen, ladies, and people of every class and condition of all nations have all been seen here and they still pour into that fortunate village to venerate the sacred body of the undefeated Heroine, in gratitude for the graces received, imploring her patronage.”

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Fig. 21 – The Basilica of Saint Philomena in Ars, France. The Curate of Ars, to gather the considerable funds required for its building, in 1859 wrote this: “I will pray to the good God for those that help me to build a nice church to Saint Philomena. Jean Vianney, Curate of Ars.” The Basilica, splendid result of his great love for our Martyr, was finally completed in 1881.

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Fig. 22 – The martyrdom and the cult of Saint Philomena in printings of the nineteenth century.

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Fig. 23 – The pious Queen Marie Christine of Savoy, wife of Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies. She often visited the Sanctuary in Mugnano, near which she decided to build a female orphanage. The Queen attributed the birth of her only son, Francis II, last King of Naples, to the intercession of Saint Philomena. She died young and was mourned by everyone. In 1853 Pope Pius IX proclaimed her as Venerable.

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Fig. 24 – Father Louis Petit. In 1902, by his initiative, Rome became for one day Philomenian City. Near Priscilla’s Catacombs the celebrations for the First Centenary of the finding of Saint Philomena’s body were held. In 1883 and in 1902 he visited Mugnano.

Chronology of the Devotion

Monthly Calendar Regarding the Most Significant Events about the Devotion of Saint Philomena

1. Introduction

The purpose of this work is to offer a solid reference point to the many faithful who venerate Saint Philomena. This chapter, in particular, is to note chronologically all the main events during the year which have characterised the cult of the Saint and its spreading.

2. Historical events and important recurrences during the year

a – January.

  • 1st, 1841 – Gregory XVI, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, promotes the Office of Saint Philomena to double rite of second class without Octave in her own Church in Mugnano.
  • 8th, 1905 – Saint Pius X affirms that “the greatest argument in favour of the cult of Saint Philomena is the Curate of Ars” (cfr. – J.M. Martinez, Luz y fuerza).
  • 11th, 1855 – Pius IX, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, approves and grants to the clergy of Mugnano, the new own Office with its own Mass in honor of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, with double rite of second class.
  • 14th, 1896 – Leo XIII grants the Patronage Feast of Saint Philomena.
  • 15th, 1857 – Pius IX, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on request of Mons. Joseph Formisano Bishop of Nola, extends to the regular and secular clergy of the diocese of Nola the permission to celebrate with double minor rite its own Office with the Mass in honor of Saint Philomena V. and M., already approved and conceded to the clergy of Mugnano and other dioceses.
  • 30th, 1837 – Gregory XVI solemnly approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of September 6, 1834, with which it was granted to the secular and regular clergy of the Diocese of Nola to recite on August 11 the Office with the Mass de Comm. Virg. Et Mart., primo loco with the fourth Lesson in honour of Saint Philomena V. and M.
  • 31st, 1866 – the Abbot Monnin, one of the greatest experts of the Curate of Ars’ life, visits the Sanctuary in Mugnano and celebrates the Mass at the Saint’s altar

b – February. There are no events.

c – March.

  • 15th, 1826 – Leo XII, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, grants the authorization to celebrate only the solemn Mass of “de Communi Virginum et Mart.” on the day of the feast of Saint Philomena in her Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, as long as it was not on a fixed Sunday, which would necessitate double Office of first class.
  • 16th, 1965 – the devoted Mary Mulcahy, received a private audience by Paul VI, and handed to him approximately six thousands requests of the Irish faithful asking to reconsider the decree of 1961.
  • 23rd, 1965 – The Secretary of State,His Holiness Pope Paul VI informs Miss Mulcahy that the Pope has passed on to the Sacred Congregation of Rites the petition made by the Irish devotees for a re-examination of the decree of 1961.

d – April.

  • 2nd, 1859 – the Curate of Ars, to find the funds required to build the Basilica in honor of Saint Philomena, wrote – “I shall pray to the good God for those who will help me build a nice church for Saint Philomena. Jean Vianney, Curate of Ars”. The church was completed in 1881, after the Curate’s death.
  • 9th, 1847 – the death of Don Francis De Lucia.
  • 11th, 1835 – Queen Marie Christine of Savoy, with her husband Ferdinand II, King of Naples, came to Mugnano to beg for the grace of fertility.
  • 16th, 1839 – Gregory XVI,. with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, grants the clergy of Mugnano the authorization to recite the Office of Saint Philomena V. and M. on her feast with double major rite.

e – May.

  • 21st, 1912 – Pope Pius X extends to the whole Church the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena.
  • 24th, 1802 – the finding by the fossors in Rome of a tomb in Priscilla’s Catacombs with martyrdom symbols. The communication of its discovery to Don Philip Ludovici, second caretaker of the catacombs. The tomb contained bones and a vial with some blood. It was sealed by three stones bearing the writing – “Pax Tecum Filumena” and the representation of the martyrdom symbols – the anchor, the arrows, the palm, and the lily.
  • 25th, 1802 – the finding of the body of Saint Philomena in Priscilla’s Catacombs, in the presence of Don Philip Ludovici and many more witnesses.
  • 31st, 1835 – Mons. Anselmo Basilici visits the Sanctuary in Mugnano and gives the Rector Don Francis De Lucia the certificate of the multiplication of Saint Philomena’s relics.
  • 1843,
    month of May – miraculous healing of Saint John Marie Vianney, Curate of Ars.
  • 1843, month of May – miraculous healing in Ars of an ecclesiastic of Moulins, suffering from consumption disease in its last stage.

f – June.

  • 6th, 1907 – Pope Pius X, receiving the Abbot Louis Petit, affirms – “The great argument in favour of Saint Philomena is the Curate of Ars.”
  • 8th, 1805 – donation of the body of Saint Philomena to Mons. Bartolomeo De Cesare, who in turn donated it to his friend, Don Francis De Lucia.
  • 9th, 1896 – Bartolo Longo and his consort visit the Sanctuary. The Blessed Bartolo Longo serves the mass on the altar of the Saint.
  • 14th, 1906 – Pope Pius X personally writes a blessing for the members of the Work of Saint Philomena.
  • 16th, 1835 – Pope Gregory XVI receives Mons. Anselmo Basilici, who updates him on the miracles of Saint Philomena and especially about the multiplication of the relics.
  • 17th, 1835 – the Vice Prefect of the Congregation of Rites examines the miracle of the relics’ multiplication. The result is positive. The miracle is officially verified.
  • 30th, 1805 – Episcopal consecration in Rome of Mons. Bartolomeo De Cesare, newly appointed Bishop of Potenza, thanks to whose intercession through Pope Pius VII, Don Francis De Lucia received in donation the relics of Saint Philomena.

g – July.

  • 1st, 1805 – Don Francis De Lucia and the Bishop Bartolomeo De Cesare leave Rome taking with them the sacred remains of Saint Philomena.
  • 2nd, 1805 – The sacred remains of Saint Philomena arrive in Naples, they are received in the house of the bookseller Antonio Terres.
  • 21st, 1827 – Pope Leo XII donates to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena the three slabs that sealed the tomb of Saint Philomena. On August 4th these are displayed for public veneration.

     

h – August.

  • 9th, 1836 – building of the chapel at Saint Gervais in Paris in honour of Saint Philomena.
  • 10th, 1805 – transfer of the relics of Saint Philomena to Mugnano del Cardinale.
  • 10th, 1835 – healing of Pauline Jaricot, founder of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of the Living Rosary.
  • 11th, 1823 – sweating of the statue of Saint Philomena donated to the Sanctuary by Cardinal Louis Ruffo Scilla.
  • 1814 – healing of the lawyer Alexander Serio and prodigy of the miraculously repaired crack in the altar marble.
  • 1872 – first national pilgrimage to Ars and La Salette, promoted by the Abbot Thédenat.

i – September.

  • 6th, 1834 – Gregory XVI grants permission to sing the Mass even on a Sunday, as long as the feast falls on August 10th, day of the Translation of the Saint’s body.
  • 9th, 1886 – Leo XIII approves the patronage feast for Saint Philomena (January 14).
  • 19th, 1772 – birth of Don Francis De Lucia.
  • 19th, 1796 – ordination of Don Francis De Lucia.
  • 11th, 1846 – healing of the novice Monestrol, of the Order of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, by intercession of Saint Philomena.
  • 24th, 1889 – Leo XIII grants France the title and privilege of Archconfraternity for the work of Saint Philomena.
  • 25th, 1983 – Don Giovanni Braschi joins the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena as Rector.
  • 29th, 1805 – definitive translation of the sacred relics to St. Philomena’s chapel in Our Lady of Grace in Mugnano.

j – October.

  • 1871 – the Abbot Thédenat, of the dioceses of Paris, received the inspiration to start the movement of the national French pilgrimages to Ars and to Our Lady of Salette (fig. 25) while praying on the tomb of the Venerable J.M. Vianney, in proximity of the altar of Saint Philomena.
  • 16th, 1887 – Leo XIII blessed the flag that Father Louis Petit used in the pilgrimages to Paray le Monial, Ars and La Salette.

     

k – November.

  • 7th, 1849 – Pius IX goes to the Sanctuary of Mugnano to celebrate Mass on the altar of the Saint.
  • 1854 – Pius IX, on request of Ferdinand II, King of Naples, proclaims Saint Philomena Second Patroness of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, after Saint Januarius.
  • 29th, 1963 – the archaeologist, Jesuit Father Anthony Ferrua, re-examines positively the epitaph on the tomb of the Saint.

l – December.

  • 1833 – miraculous healing of the dying Franciscan sister Mary Jesualda Garelli.
  • 9th, 1859 – Pius IX, with Brief Pontificate, grants temporarily to the Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano the privilege to use the pontifical insignias to accomplish all the sacred functions in the Sanctuary.
  • 15th, 1883 – Leo XIII approves the pious practice of the Blessed Cord of Saint Philomena and grant indulgences to whoever carries it.
  • 21st, 1833 – Imprimatur (Publication) of the Holy Office to the “Revelations” of Sister Marie Louise of Jesus.
  • 25th, 1970 – the periodical “La Campana (The Bell)” printing organ of the Diocese of Nola carries the article of November 29, 1963, written by the Jesuit Fr. Anthony Ferrua, in which the results of the re-examination of the epitaph on the tomb of the Saint are detailed.

3. Other important events worth noting.

  • 1819 – the future Pius IX is healed of epilepsy by intercession of Saint Philomena.
  • 1824 – first edition of the work of Don Francis De Lucia, Historic Relation of the translation of the Body of Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale. It was printed an additional six times and translated in many different languages.
  • 1835 – the image of Saint Philomena is displayed for the first time in the Church of Saint Gervais in Paris (fig. 26).
  • 1837 – the Holy Curate of Ars builds an altar in honor of Saint Philomena.
  • 1880 – Arnard Doncoeur first and, then later, the abbot Louis Petit and Father Joseph Bonavenia, following accurate studies, dates the burial niche of Saint Philomena to the post-apostolic period.
  • 1890-1910 – De Waal and Marucchi show doubts.
  • 1906-1907 – Bonavenia challenges the two archaeologists.
  • 1961 – the Congregation of Rites removes the feast of Saint Philomena from the liturgical Calendar.
  • 1964 – Mons. Luigi Esposito, Rector of the Sanctuary of Mugnano, with the visto from Msgr. A. Binni, Bishop of Nola, submits a question, asking about the authentic interpretation of the disposition “Festum autem S. Philumenae…” and precisely if with that disposition had been removed only the liturgical cult or also every kind of cult. The answer was – “The liturgical cult has been removed, the popular cult has remained unchanged. The Saint can be venerated and honored even by the Local Council with the external feast and the Mass.”.
  • 1964 – Dante Balboni underlines the theological aspect.
  • 1971 – Mons. Luigi Esposito publishes the book “Saint Philomena Roman Virgin. Historic news.”
  • 1981 – publication of G.J.E. Mautner Markhof’s “Das un-bequeme Wunder”, Poseidon Press, Vienna 1981.
  • 1983 – on September 25, Don Giovanni Braschi is nominated Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, with decree of H. E. Mons. Joseph Costanzo, Bishop of Nola.
  • 1985 – Don Giovanni Braschi publishes the book “Saint Philomena”, reprinted in 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003.
  • 1987 – institution of the Philomenian Centers in the world, wanted by Rector Braschi; promotion of the Universal Archconfraternity of St. Philomena and of the Living Rosary in USA and Canada.
  • 1989 – beginning of restoration work at the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena.
  • 1990 – Rector Giovanni Braschi founds the Agency “Lumena Travel” in Boston for the pilgrimages of USA – ITALY, with compulsory visit to the Sanctuary.
  • 1990 – Rector Braschi promotes the official publication of the periodical “Philomena” for Switzerland, in the German language, edited by the Theresia-Verlag (CH).
  • 1992 – Conference of Philomenian Studies with Chairman H. E. Mons. Umberto Tramma, Bishop of Nola. Coordinator Prof. Don Giovanni Ariano. Speaker and vaticanist Mons. Dante Balboni. Many were the participants and vast the contents.
  • 1994 – conclusion of the partial restoration of the Sanctuary – artistic panelled ceiling of the seventeenth century, new Martyrs hall and House of the Pilgrim; installation of bells in the bell tower.
  • 1996 – a year rich with pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, pilgrims coming from the USA, Germany, Australia, Angola, Guatemala, Ukraine and Hungary.
  • 1997 – publication of the book Ismeretlen Ismeros in Hungarian, promoted by the Rector Braschi, written by Dr. Golenszky Kandid O. Cist. (Budapest). Inauguration and blessing of a new statue of Saint Philomena in Kecskemét, attended by the Rector of the Sanctuary.
  • 1999 – donation of a painting by the famous artist Festzy Masa by the Association of Saint Philomena in Hungary. This was made possible on initiative of the responsible Horvàth Gyongyi of Budapest.
  • 1999 – Regional Conference in the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena for the Centenary of the birth of P. Jaricot, Foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of the Living Rosary.
  • 2000 – Marie Burns of Glasgow Scotland UK is appointed acting Director General of the Archconfraternity by the Rector Msgr. Braschi.
  • 2000 – First Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena meeting in Navarre, Ohio, USA, coordinated by Rector Msgr. Braschi and Marie Burns, acting Director General, of the Philomenian Center of Glasgow (Scotland, UK). Hosted by Fr Robert Gibas.
  • 2000 – realization of the bronze main entrance of the Sanctuary, the work of artist William Savini. Donated by the Local Council of Mugnano del Cardinale and blessed by Cardinal Louis Poggi on the12th of December, with the participation of H. E. Abp. Benjamin Depalma, Bishop of Nola.
  • 2001 – 18th May – first official pilgrimage to stay in the newly restored Pilgrim Center, within the Sanctuary, from Scotland UK. Included the young, old, disabled and children. Led by Fr. Peter Lennon of Glasgow Scotland UK, great promoter of St. Philomena and the Cure d’Ars. Rosemary Campbell, Marie Burns and Michael Malley R.I.P. Welcomed by the Rector of the Sanctuary Msgr. Braschi and the Mayor of Mugnano along with prestigious council committee members. The first of many Scottish and worldwide pilgrimages staying in the new pilgrims centre and continue to do so.
  • 2002 – painting restoration of the Sanctuary and of the old Sacristy. Building of the chapel of the Crucifix, annexed to the altar of Saint Philomena. All on initiative of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi. The restoration of the wooden Crucifix and the realization of the polychrome stained glass window were assigned to the artist Luigi Falco.
  • 2002 – donation of an artistic and monumental statue, the work of the sculptor Peratoner of the Ortisei School (Bolzano). Donated by a group of devotees from Austria and Bavaria (Germany).
  • 2002 – celebration of the bicentenary for the finding of the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena. Pilgrimage to Priscilla’s catacombs in Rome –promoted by the Rector of the Sanctuary and with the participation of the International Centers and of the citizens of Mugnano.
  • February 27-29, 2002 – recognition of the Sacred Relics of Saint Philomena on the occasion of the bicentenary of the finding on May 25, 1802 in Priscilla’s catacombs. The recognition was carried out, with maximum discretion and scientific scrupulousness in the presence of a board of studies delegated by H. E. Abp. Benjamin Depalma, Bishop of Nola and the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi.
  • 2003 – Permanent appointment of Marie Burns of Glasgow, Scotland UK as Director of the Universal Archconfraternity of St Philomena. Appointed by Msgr. Braschi, Rector.
  • 2003 – visit of the Rector Giovanni Braschi to the house of the Ven. Pauline Jaricot in Lorette and to her tomb in the Church of Saint-Nizier in Lyon. On this occasion he also visited the Sanctuary of Ars.
  • 2003 – launching a comprehensive new website by webmaster.
  • August 9, 2003 – Conference of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi on television (Rai 1, program Mattina Uno) on the subject “The miracles of Saint Philomena”.
  • February 2004 – official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena center in the Ivory Coast.
  • May 2004 – visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the Archconfraternity center of Scotland, with Mass and a meeting with devotees at Carvin Grotto in Motherwell, Scotland UK.
  • November 2004 – official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the various centers and churches of the United States. Eight states were visited – Indiana, Georgia, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and California. While in Arizona, Marie Burns, Director of the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, joined Father Braschi in meeting with new webmaster, who introduced Fr. Braschi
    and Mrs. Burns to Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano.
  • January 2005 – restoration work on the tomb of Don Francis De Lucia. Realization of a bas-relief in bronze, which was the work of Prof. Silvano Muollo. The work was inaugurated during the feast of Saint Philomena’s Patronage. Inauguration of new benches in the Sanctuary. The benches were donated by an anonymous devotee from the United States.
  • February 2005 – beginning of the restoration works of the Sacred Altar of Saint Philomena.
  • April 9, 2005 – Conference of Philomenian Studies promoted by Msgr. Braschi, Rector of the Sanctuary and coordinated by the Prof. Fr. Giovanni Ariano. Held in the Basilica of St. Sylvester in Rome near Priscilla’s catacombs. Participation included various heads from the International Philomenian Centers and well known scholars. Discussed the “Philomena Question” in knowledgeable, lucid, and exhaustive detail. Conference presenter and webmaster reported that the Sanctuary’s website was receiving more than a million visitor hits a month, thus demonstrating the great renewal in the devotion to Saint Philomena in the 21st Century. In memory of the Michael Malley of Glasgow (Scotland UK) who was due to attend but died just before, his hand painted banners exquisitely made where presented to the Sanctuary of St Philomena and Archconfraternity Centres of Aruba, Ivory Coast, Australia and USA to commemorate the occasion.
  • May 2005 – official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to various centers and churches of England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Participation of the Rector in a meeting and solemn Mass in the Sanctuary of Knock, Ireland.
  • August 10, 2005 – celebration for the bicentenary of the translation of the Body of Saint Philomena from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale. Display and procession of the Sacred Body of the Saint. The
    unveiling of a shell with the effigy of Saint Philomena (high-relief in bronze realized by the artist Prof. Silvano Muollo) in remembrance of the bicentenary.
  • March 10, 2007 – second official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the Philomenian Center of Budapest, Hungary.
  • June 2008 – official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the Philomenian center at the in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Also to commemorate the death of Fr James Swenson R.I.P., a great benefactor of the Sanctuary, who donated the elevator, at the Church of St. Bridget’s in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
  • July 4, 2008 – centenary of the coronation of Our Lady of Graces with solemn celebration in Umberto I square, Mugnano del Cardinale.
  • September 25, 2008 – 25th Rectorate Anniversary for Mons. Giovanni Braschi at the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena.
  • February 2009 – official visit of the Rector Mons. Giovanni Braschi to the various centers and churches of the United States. The journey was organized for the inauguration of the new statue (by the sculptor Gioacchino Cennamo) of Saint Philomena in the Church of Saint Peter Chanel in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
  • January 2011 – Sister Bertilla’s death in Mugnano.
    A very special tribute must be paid to our late Sister Bertilla. Sister Bertilla, originally known as Maria Giuseppina Ecclesiastico, was sent to Mugnano del Cardinale on August 5, 1986 by H. E. Mons. Joseph Costanzo, Bishop of Nola. With admirable dedication for nearly a quarter of a century, she carried out her mission in our Sanctuary, fully devoted to the divine cult, the glory of Saint Philomena and at the service of the very many faithful.
  • April 2011 – A new website for the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena is launched by webmaster.
  • For several years now, on the last Sunday of August, at the request of Msgr. Giovanni Braschi, Mugnano del Cardinale is gladdened by the Alfonsian Chorus and by the Alfatern Orchestra. The much anticipated concert is conducted by the authoritative Maestro Father Paolo Saturno and is the expression of the creative talent of composer Father Alfonso Vitale. There has been an excellent and constructive relationship for some time between the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena and the Fathers of the Congregation of the SS. Redeemer, founded by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori.

061013_2212_CHAPTERVIII2

Fig. 25 – The statue of
Saint Philomena which stands out in the scenery of La Salette, France near the famous Marian Sanctuary, a destination of many pilgrimages.

061013_2212_CHAPTERVIII3

Fig. 26 – The first effigy of Saint Philomena displayed in the Church of Saint Gervais in Paris (1835). Devotion to the Martyr spread quickly in France.

Prayers and Devotions

The Novena is a powerful means to obtain graces and heavenly favours. The devotees can recite the Novenas composed by Don Francesco De Lucia, by Saint John Marie Vianney, Cure of Ars, or the Litanies for nine consecutive days. When the intention is very important, during the Novena, it is appropriate to participate every day in the Holy Mass. Marvellous spiritual results can be equally achieved having a Novena of Holy Masses celebrated at the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano del Cardinale. Many devotees living abroad, not being able to visit our Sanctuary, send us their Prayer Petitions which we, with every care, lay down at the Altar of our young Martyr, the great Saint Philomena.

Novena in honour of Saint Philomena V.M.

written by Don Francis De Lucia.

This has to be devoutly recited to prepare for her Feast and to obtain the desired graces.

Supplication
Purest Young Virgin, most faithful disciple of the Gospel and very powerful Martyr of Jesus Christ, You, who were full of grace and purity, enriched with faith and power in a faithless and corrupted world, and especially in Rome, where the throne of idolatry, tyranny, and every infernal superstition, and the cradle of all the most deforming vices could be found, this idolatrous city was nothing else but a horrible Babylon of prostitution; and you in the center of the capital of the pagan and corrupted world, managed to keep yourself strong in the faith, and pure for your heavenly Spouse until the last breath of your life was sacrificed for the many atrocious martyrdoms; we pray to you for all of your highest merits to implore for us from the throne of the merciful heavenly Father the gift of perseverance of faith, and purity of mind and body, and to let us die with the grace of Jesus Christ. So be it.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Creed.

Supplication
Very powerful Martyr, and most faithful Virgin of Jesus Christ, in order to preserve intact and immaculate the treasure of purity and faith for our God accepted, to be drowned in deep waters with Anchor tied around your neck till suffocated, you were freed by heavenly Spouse: we humbly ask your intercession, so that in times of deep suffering, sorrow, and anxiety, that continuously surround us, we be strong, and freed from the guilt of our faults, freed from the death of our souls, and avoid being drowned in the waters of temptations. So be it.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Gory Be and Creed.

Supplication
Beloved Bride, and resolute Martyr of Jesus Christ, You that in order to remain permanently virgin and strong in the faith, accepted to be exposed to the eyes of many filthy and wicked pagans in the idolatrous Rome, and in order to defend the virginity and doctrine of the Gospel renounced the delights of the flesh, the pleasures and the pomp of the world, the life of your own perfectly pure body, and exposed yourself to the flogging of leather and metal rings, and so under deluge of cruel lashings you were covered in sores and blood, and became very similar to your divine Loved one; implore for us miserable sinners, the necessary strength to live far from the stain of sins, and to die constant in the faith of the Roman Church, like You, no matter the pain, dishonour and even death itself. So be it.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Creed.

Supplication
Zealous warrior for virginity and faith of Jesus Christ, for the unconquerable and cheerful firmness that you showed by exposing your virginal body three times in Rome to hold fast to the Doctrine of Jesus Christ and true to your purity, you accepted to be pierced by sharp and cruel arrows in this way you gained many palms and decorations as many as the mortal wounds that you bore for your Heavenly Spouse: grant us fragile observers of the divine law the strength necessary for our eternal wellbeing, so that with holy patience we tolerate all the suffering and grief of this life, and all the infernal arrows and darts fired against our souls by the temptations of the devil.
Amen
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be and Creed

Final Prayer

Illustrious and Glorious Martyr and Bride of Christ your Heavenly Beloved was not satisfied with the atrocious motorisation that you had to endure so he did not allow death to extinguish your precious life in order that you could continue your sufferings and bitter fight amidst wounds, blood and pain and so by keeping you alive you were ready for fierce attacks and terrifying provocations to grant you more immortal victories, palms, triumphs and wreaths. In this way He made you a more admirable bride before the angels in the Kingdom of his Glory and more distinguished among crowned and triumphant martyrs. For this Heavenly Council you were put in chain and were dragged in front of the tyrants of Rome to be tempted yet again against purity and faith; your inhuman enemies in desperation to bring your pure and faithful heart under submission, condemned you to be beheaded and so, covered in garlands and graces you were taken glorious and triumphant into the reign of your Spouse.

In this Holy Novena we implore you to gaze on us from the greatness of your heart, console us with a sign that you have accepted our humble homage which we have offered you, and grant us the graces for which we ask, only if they will help us in our eternal life, and any other graces which from Heaven you think we may need to free our souls from eternal death even though we deserve it for all our grave sins. We hope to be consoled by your celestial charity. We bless with profound devotion the holy trinity who on this earth preceded you with blessings of purity, faith, perseverance and of many others that made your life so holy on earth and glorious in heaven where you were taken victorious and triumphant against atrocious enemies and amongst many trials, helping you with his gifts we thank the Immaculate Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, Queen and Comfort of Martyrs who with her maternal and powerful assistance allowed you to overcome all your mortal torments.

This we hope with the veneration of your merits and the joyful remembrance of your triumphs
Amen
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Creed.

Novena in Honour of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr

composed by Saint Giovanni Maria Vianney Cure of Ars.

PRAYER
(to be recited every day of the novena)

Glorious Virgin and Martyr greatly loved by God, Saint Philomena, I rejoice with you for the power that God has given you for the glory of His name, for the building of His church and to honour the merits of your life and your death. I delight in seeing you so pure, so generous, so faithful to Jesus Christ and to his Gospel, so magnificently rewarded in heaven and on earth, drawn by your example to practise virtue, full of hope because of all the rewards conceded to your merits I propose to imitate you by avoiding sin and obeying God completely. Help me o Great Saint by your powerful intercession. Grant me above all an inviolable purity for ever, an indomitable spirit against all evil, the generosity to deny nothing to deny no sacrifice to God and a love as strong as death for the faith of Jesus Christ for the holy Roman Catholic Church and for the Pope, the Father of all the faithful, Shepherd of shepherds and of sheep, vicar of Jesus Christ throughout the world, to these graces that I now ask for with all the ardour of my soul O Saint Philomena, I add even more graces, which I am confident that through your powerful intersession will be granted me.

(State with simplicity, trust and humility that graces that you desire from the Saint)

No, the good God for whom you shed your blood and gave your life, the good God who is so lavish with you, and through you of his gifts and favours the good God who loved me so much as to die for me, and who gives himself to me through the Eucharist, no, he will not say no to your prayers to my wishes, he surely feels the need to help us. I fervently hope so; I put all my trust in him and in you.
Amen.

FIRST DAY

Consider that Saint Philomena was a virgin. A virgin in this world… a virgin despite persecution… a virgin until death. What an example! What is the reason of my confusion? What is the remedy?
Humiliate yourself often for what has caused you shame, pondering on her virginal purity.
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

SECOND DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena was and remained a virgin… because she repressed the corrupt desired of the flesh…, she retained the modesty of Jesus Christ she avoided the deceiving world and dangerous occasions. Do you imitate here in all these ways? What are the causes of your temptations…of your weaknesses… of your unease…of your downfall? Try to eliminate them.
Shun what has harmed you; practice what you have neglected to do in regards to chastity.

THIRD DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena maintained and increased her love for virginity with prayer, a great source of spiritual life; with the sacraments; the soul is washed with the blood of Christ, and is nourished with his sacred body, divine origin of Christian virginity considering that her members were the members of Jesus Christ and her body was the temple of the holy spirit. Have you not all these means also? What use do you make of them?
Double the fervour of your prayers, every now and them repeat to yourself: my members are those of Jesus Christ the temple of the Holy Spirit
(Holy mass etc.. as first day)

FOURTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena was a martyr… that she suffered… she suffered a lot… suffered until death, and she showed in these moments of torment and invincible patience…are suffering and patience inseparably connected in you? Do you rarely suffer…suffer very little…never enough to die because of it…where does this weariness come from? Would you not like to make some changes?… in which way would you obtain this?
Accept with patience the few discomforts, obstacles and difficulties that it pleases the lord to send you today.
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

FIFTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena was a martyr for Jesus Christ …they wanted for take her faith away…they wanted her to transgress her Baptismal vows…induce her to follow the examples of the idolaters and apostate. What does the devil, the world, the flesh and your heart want from you if not the same unfaithfulness? They are offensive to God… is it not vain fear that makes you betray your faith, stops you from fulfilling your duties? My God what disgraceful laxity! Find the necessary courage…
Gain the respect of a fellow human being, say to yourself occasionally it is better to be pleasing to God rather than to a Man.
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

SIXTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena when she died for Jesus Christ followed this rule made by our Saviour: “if you do not love me more that your father and your mother, even more than you love yourself then you cannot be my disciple.” She did not hesitate… she sacrificed everything, even though blood and nature made themselves heard. In less difficult situations are we worthy of Jesus Christ? If at times when we have to choose between God and Man, Between Grace and Nature, who do we choose? Oh! Let us in the future respect our dignity as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ.
Let us try today to please only god or other beings, always and solely for God. Keep far from confused affections.
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

SEVENTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena when she died for Jesus Christ had to tolerate the mockery, the abuse of her persecutors, of her executioners and most of the spectators of her torture. She was very generous very constant, very cheerful when publicly declaring her faith… if the world offered you a similar chalice to drink would you have enough courage to devour the jestings the scorn the most unjust persecutions,.. can he who is honoured by God be dishonoured? Have no fear…follow your path…it will end with the gaining of eternal glory.
Do not allow anger into your heart, if something is said abruptly, coarsely, sharply, insultingly etc…
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

EIGHTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena by dying for love of Jesus Christ entered eternal life full of joy “yes I am certain” she would say form the bottom of her heart ” that the supreme Judge will give me in exchange for the worldly good that I have sacrificed to his love, the Crown of justice that he had promised me.” She dies…and here she is in the tabernacle of God with the Saints to follow the Lamb… are these the thoughts that I try to have when I have to make a sacrifice? What impression do they make on my soul? To which side do the scales tilt? Ah! The Saints to obtain all would say: let us leave all what will I say?
Let us decide on a voluntary sacrifice for today…Let us with pleasure fulfil all our duties etc…
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

NINTH DAY
Consider that Saint Philomena in this unworthy world sacrificed all for Jesus Christ, receiving in return in this world directly from him a hundred fold of what she had renounced to. What power! What Glory! How much grandeur humiliated at her feet, how many pilgrims at all her sanctuaries. How many festivities in her honour. What tributes of veneration are offered to her, what agitated zeal to collect her relics. In this way God fulfilled his promises. Eh! If only we kept our promises to him with such faithfulness! But by taking away his Glory do we not deprive ourselves of many favours and merits in this world and in the next? So courage…be loyal…so that God will be loyal with you.
Today perform and act of mercy in honour of the Saint. Prepare yourself with a good confession to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ worthily.
Assist at Holy Mass in her honour and pray to one of her statues or pictures.

PRAYER

Oh God among the miracles of your power you also donated to the weaker sex the victory of martyrdom help us who celebrate the birth of the blessed Philomena your virgin and martyr with her examples to you we come.
Through Christ Our Lord
Amen

Novena Prayer to St. Philomena

This can be recited for 9 successive days

O faithful virgin and glorious martyr, St Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowful, have pity on me. Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of my needs. Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity o great Saint. Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favourable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before you (here specify your petition). I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the Passion and Death of Jesus thy Spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His saints. Amen

Prayer for a Novena to Saint Philomena

Faithful Virgin and distinguished Martyr
Saint Philomena
I rejoice in your glory and
I am exultant with joy
When I see you glorifying God,
Particularly with miracles
in favour of the poor
and of those with simple hearts.
I pray that His Divine Majesty designates
your name to more and more people,
that he reveals your power
and increases your servants.
O dear and good Saint Philomena
here I am at your feet
full of misery
but still full of hope,
I invoke your charity,
bless me and help me in my moment of need,
and do not abandon me ever!
O great and lovable Saint,
protect me from the enemies of salvation
and always pray to our Lord Jesus
that he grant me the grace
to serve him in this world
and then to belong to him for eternity.
Amen

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be

Prayer for Special Intentions

Prostrate at your feet O great and glorious little Saint, I humbly come with my fervent desires the prayer of my heart; accept it benignly and grant me the graces which I request

Saint Philomena pray for me

Glory be to the Father etc.

My heart is in turmoil I feel the pain grief is crushing me, I am in need of grace, help me, grant me my request

Saint Philomena pray for me

Glory be to the Father etc.

Weary without comfort deprived of hope alone overburdened by affliction I trust in you to answer my prayer

Saint Philomena pray for me

Glory be to the Father etc.

I realise that the cause of my many misfortunes were my grave sins, obtain for me the pardon which I need, instil in me the love for Jesus

Saint Philomena pray for me

Glory be to the Father etc.

Gaze on my home O Saint, turn your eyes on my family, look with your sweet smile upon your devout followers, dry the tears of everyone, put in my heart a ray of hope, give everyone peace, health and providence.

Saint Philomena pray for me

Glory be to the Father etc.

See how many graces I need, do not abandon me, you who are all powerful in God, keep me from sorrow and affliction let my heart be peaceful, free me from danger and ruin. Bless my home my family your followers and grant me my desired grace. ( ask for the grace).

O lovely Saint do not abandon me and pray for me.

Glory be etc.

Through the virtue of your martyrdom may God have pity on us

Glory be etc. 3 times

Monsignor Michele Camerlengo, Bishop of Nola

O Philomena!

Favourite daughter of the Queen of the heavens,
Your mother delights
In your beauty;
she glories in your graceful virtue
and she rejoices for the flowers and offerings
made to you by all nations.
O Philomena!
The nations applaud you
for the continuous benefits received,
and your name has rekindled
in many souls the sweetest hope.
Amiable Saint,
manifest your power
and come to our aid.
Help us o generous Virgin and fearless Martyr
To meditate the mysteries of the Faith
And to remain like you, faithful to Jesus Christ until death.

Amen.
Ven. Pauline Marie Jaricot

Litany To Saint Philomena

(composed by the Cure of Ars)

Lord have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.

Christ have mercy on us, Christ graciously hear us

Lord have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, pray for us.

Response: pray for us!

Saint Philomena

Saint Philomena, filled with the most abundant graces from your very birth

Saint Philomena, faithful imitator of Mary

Saint Philomena, model of Virginity

Saint Philomena, temple of the most perfect humility

Saint Philomena, inflamed with zeal for the Glory of God

Saint Philomena, victim of the love of Jesus

Saint Philomena, example of strength and perseverance

Saint Philomena, invincible champion of chastity

Saint Philomena, mirror of the most heroic virtues

Saint Philomena, firm and intrepid in the face of torments

Saint Philomena, scourged like your Divine Spouse

Saint Philomena, pierced by a shower of arrows

Saint Philomena, consoled in chains, by the Mother of God

Saint Philomena, miraculously healed in prison

Saint Philomena, comforted by angels in your torments

Saint Philomena, who preferred torments and death to the splendours of a throne

Saint Philomena, who converted the witnesses of your martyrdom

Saint Philomena, who wore out the fury of your executioners

Saint Philomena, protectress of the innocent

Saint Philomena, patroness of youth

Saint Philomena, refuge of the unfortunate

Saint Philomena, health of the sick and the weak

Saint Philomena, new light of the church militant

Saint Philomena, who confounds the impiety of the world

Saint Philomena, who stimulates the faith and courage of the faithful

Saint Philomena, whose name is glorious in Heaven and feared in Hell

Saint Philomena, made illustrious by the most striking miracles

Saint Philomena, all powerful with God

Saint Philomena, who reigns in glory

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Saint Philomena,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let us pray

We implore Thee, O Lord, by the intercession of Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, who was ever most pleasing to Thy eyes for her eminent purity and the practice of every virtue, pardon us our sins and grant us all the graces we need ( name any special grace you may require). Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer for the Bicentenary of the translation of the sacred body
Of Saint Philomena from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale (1805- 2005)

O glorious Saint Philomena
Courageous martyr of Christ,
chaste flower of virtue and grace,
accept the humble prayer of all
who invoke your protection
and your potent intercession
through the heart of the Most High.

Wonderful model of hope and strength,
faithful follower of the Gospel
grant us that through the shedding of your blood
for the love of Jesus
the faith of our community grows and improves
with peace and tranquillity reigning in the families devoted to you.

Docile and humble servant of the Lord,
help us to thank God every day
for his kindness
as an affectionate and merciful Father.
May your unshakeable perseverance
help us with the trials of life,
in times of sorrow, in grief
and when we are tempted to stray from
the Holy Spirit’s loving protection.

You who found strength and comfort
in the words of the divine Master
and in the Eucharist, his body,
help us to be hungry for the Bread of heaven
and for every word spoken by God.

You who although innocent have forgiven those
Who caused you suffering
And unspeakable pain, make us merciful
to those who cause us distress and suffering,
help us to retain the beatitude of gentleness
and good-will in our hearts.

Protect our children and our young.
Comfort the oppressed and the sick.
With the light of your martyrdom inspire
The apostles of the Gospel and the witnesses of charity.
Rekindle the faith of those who hesitate in the path of rectitude.
Intercede for peace and justice between peoples.
For those who are torn by doubt grant them the light of truth.
And let the divine grace shine upon us all.
Amen

Archbishop Msgr. Beniamino Depalma
Bishop of Nola

Prayer composed for the Bicentenary of the translation of the sacred body of
Saint Filomena from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale (1805-2005)

Philomena, witness to the light of Christ
and to the Mystery of the greatness of God.
I thank God the Father for bringing you into existence.
I thank Jesus, Son of God,
who gave you the honor of shedding
your blood for Him, as He shed His for us.
I thank the Holy Spirit
Who for many centuries
kept hidden from us the might of your faith,
abandoning your sacred body
in the cold darkness of the catacombs of Priscilla.
I thank God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
for making you a miracle worker
performing all over the world many miraculous
healings through your intercession,
and also for making you into a loving sister
for many saints for the blessed and for all good people
who have offered their lives for the spiritual and physical needs
of their brothers and sisters.
I thank God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
for allowing doubts about your existence and saintliness
even by ministers of the church,
this strengthens my belief that God is truly a Father,
when I feel his hand that consoles me or that brings me suffering.
Stay at my side I beg you while I pray to
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
to help the pope the bishops and the priests
to be diligent witnesses to the word of God,
that they take the many problems of the modern world and use them
for the progress of mankind.
Stay at my side I beg you while I pray to
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
that heads of state and peoples, husbands and wives, parents and children,
rich and poor, researchers and operators
be like God who caresses but also causes pain
so that all men may strive for their own happiness and that of their brothers.
Stay at my side I beg you while I pray to.
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
save me from physical and spiritual suffering which frightens me,
if this is not possible, help me to face them
with the same strength and serenity that you showed
in the hour of your martyrdom,
helped like you by the maternal presence
of Mary queen of martyrs.
Amen

Msgr. Giovanni Braschi

O Philomena

O Philomena, dwell in my heart, my mind, my thoughts, my life.
Help me to be pure like you, guide me closer to Christ.
O Philomena, pray for the souls in purgatory,
please help your lost children with whatever they may need.
O Philomena, thank you for being in my life,
for guiding me, and helping me. Amen.

Benjamin Escobar, Age 13, San Antonio, Texas USA
Moved to write this after an encounter with the Saint during a dream
June 2011

Mass in Honour of Saint Philomena

  • 061013_2322_prayers1061013_2322_prayers2
    Fig 36 – From the precious missal donated to our Sanctuary by S.S. Pope Leo XIII

Archconfraternity

The Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena

Click here to visit the website

Devotions

The Cord of Saint Philomena

The devotion to the Cord of Saint Philomena is the spontaneous result of the mercy of the faithful towards the Thaumaturgy. Its use was approved on 15 December 1883 by Pope Leo XIII, with the relevant indulgences.

In consideration of the countless graces received by intercession of the Saint, the desire of being under her powerful patronage blossomed. Everyone wanted to wear, in her honor, the blessed Cord in order to be protected in all the eventualities of life. The marvelous fruits of this devotion made her very famous.

The Saint Cure of Ars, who had many times experienced the Saint’s powers, loved seeing the faithful wearing the precious Cord and he would suggest this pious practice to everyone.

This pious devotion is a powerful aid not only to receive healings of the body, but in particular it is a defense against impure spirits. Regarding this, we wish to point out how the belts of some religious orders and the sacred parameters of the Mass are a symbol of chastity.

In this way, Saint Philomena will preserve, chaste and pure, safe from temptation, those who honour her virginal purity with this holy livery. Many steeped in the new rationalism of our days, find it hard to understand how a simple cord of thread can have the virtue of healing sickness of body and spirit. But these people are short on religious education, and do not realize that a Blessing from the Holy Church can deliver extraordinary virtues even to the simplest of souls. The hand of the blessing Priest, transmits to the substances healthy virtues for the body and the spirit, thanks to the merits of Jesus Christ’s Redemption.

Saint Ignazio of Loyola, in his Exercises, insists on the necessity of having at heart all the observances approved by the Church, even if originated by popular devotions.

Therefore, if the Church approves the devotion of the Blessed Cords in honor of the Saints, we can be sure, in practicing it, to be in right Faith and to accomplish meritorious actions.

The Cord of Saint Philomena is made with threads of cotton or wool of white and red colour. In one of the extremities it has two knots to remember the Virginity and Martyrdom of the Saint. This is worn under ordinary clothes like a belt.

The Cord of Saint Philomena is both a Symbol and a Prayer. A Symbol, because with it we wish to tie ourselves with the Saint with sincere devotion; a Prayer, because, holding it, we pray Saint Philomena to constantly offer us her protection.

Click here to visit our online shop to get your cord

Purpose of this devotion is therefore to obtain, by intercession of Saint Philomena, the effective means to:

• preserve chastity, everyone according to their state;

• fight the constantly increasing disbelief and strengthen oneself in faith and spirit;

• profess a constant and a particular love to the Saint Thaumaturge, in order to merit her favours in the fight against sickness of the body and soul.

The practise of the Cord is accomplished by:

• carrying with devotion the blessed Cord as a distinctive sign of the commitment taken, under the auspices of Saint Philomena and in her honor, to preserve the sacred purity and to defend the Faith;

• applying ourselves in prayer, in imitation of Saint Philomena’s model of chastity and Faith, to preserve one and the other, for the merit of her constancy in bearing the martyrdom;

• avoiding with great care all the dangerous situations regarding chastity, avoiding rigorously books and shows capable of staining purity, and of darkening the sacred light of the Faith;

• solemnizing the feast of Saint Philomena, receiving the Sacred Sacraments in those days, and that is: on the 10th of January, recurrence of her birth; the 25th of May, recurrence of the finding of her precious Body; the 10th of August, recurrence of her glorious death, and of the translation of the Body to Mugnano del Cardinale; the 13th of August, main feast of Saint Philomena, according to the decree of the High Pontiff;

• making the “Month of Saint Philomena,” from 1st of July to 10th of August, in memory of the 40 days that the Martyr spent in jail, according to the revelations made to Sister Marie Louise of Jesus;

• having the picture of Saint Philomena in our home, paying her a tribute of honour every day and, if possible, say the evening prayer, together, in front of her picture.

061013_2325_devotionals1Any priest, authorized by the Rector of the Sanctuary, has the faculty to bless the Cord of Saint Philomena using the Roman Ritual formula. The people who wear the Cord of Saint Philomena normally recite every day the following prayer:

Prayer for those who wear the Cord

Oh Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, pray for us,

so that through your powerful intercession,

we may receive the purity of spirit and heart,

which leads to the perfect Love of God.

Amen.

The Oil of St. Philomena

In 1805 when the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena was enshrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, it was the custom to burn an oil lamp in front of the body of a Martyr or Saint. As the word spread rapidly of this Virgin Martyr who had a arrived in Mugnano del Cardinale many people came to the church to pray.

One such woman was from a local town, full of faith in God, she dipped her finger in the oil lamp and anointed the eyelids of her blind child. To the astonishment of all present, the child’s sight was immediately restored. This miracle took place 8 days after her body arrived in Mugnano, August 18th 1805, and has been recorded as the first Miracle of the oil from the lamp which burns in front of the Sacred Body of St Philomena.

The tradition of the blessing of this oil, which is a sacramental of the Sanctuary of St. Philomena, has been handed down through generations. Each year in January, the local Bishop and the Rector of the Sanctuary participate in the blessing of the oil of Saint Philomena. Pilgrims come in procession to the Sanctuary, donating the oil, placing it in front of the Sacred Body, where it is then blessed and distributed worldwide in the familiar red container bearing the name of the Sanctuary. The Sacred oil is a sacramental and comes only from the Sanctuary of St. Philomena where her sacred Body rests. . This

Blessed Oil of St. Philomena, which may not be replicated outside the shrine, are provided to Official Archconfraternity Centres throughout the world for distribution to devotees who request it

The blessing with the Oil of St. Philomena as a devotion may be given by a priest as well as a lay devotee, as long as its use is within the prayerful intention of the Church as a sign of divine blessing and an expression of faith. The anointing may be given on the forehead and the following prayer may be recited.

061013_2325_devotionals2Prayer to St. Philomena for use with her blessed oil

O St. Philomena,
Virginal bride of Jesus and daughter of Mary Immaculate,
As we bless ourselves with your holy oil,
we invoke your powerful intercession
for heroic purity of heart
and the perfection of Christian love.
May its use strengthen our souls and heal our bodies
according to God’s perfect will.
Dear St. Philomena, model of purity and icon of courage,
especially for the youth of today,
pray for us that God may grant to our hearts
a martyrs courage under persecution,
A holy purity of mind and body,
And a heroic love for Jesus,
our divine Lord and Master.

Amen

The Chaplet of Saint Philomena

The chaplet also known as the rosary or Little Crown of St. Philomena was founded by the Holy Curé of Ars and consits of red beads to signify Her martyrdom and white beads a token of Her Virginity and Purity.

This Rosary is one of the simplest ways of praying to the Saint. First the creed is recited on the Crucifix or medal of Saint Philomena to ask for the gift of Faith. Three Our Fathers on each of the white beads to thank the Blessed Trinity for the gifts given to the Holy Virgin, for in whose honour, laid down Her life. The red beads are thirteen in number and signify the 13 years our Martyr lived on earth and this prayer is recited on each bead:

061013_2325_devotionals3

Chaplet Prayer

Hail, O holy Saint Philomena, my dear patroness.

As my advocate with thy Divine Spouse,

intercede for me now and at the hour of my death.

Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary,

pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

This prayer may be substituted for 13 Hail Mary’s each followed by: Saint Philomena, pray for us!

May 25th – Celebration of the finding of the Holy Body of Saint Philomena

Novena to St Philomena for the feast of the finding of her relics

Novena Prayer to Saint Philomena

The Solemn Novenas are from 17th to 25th May, 3rd to 11th August, 7th to 15th December. The Monthly Novena begins on 3rd and ends on 11th of each month.

 

Prayer for Each Day during the Novena.

 

O Glorious Virgin and Martyr, beloved of God, Saint Philomena! I rejoice with thee in the power which God gave thee for the glory of His Name, for the edification His Church, and to reward the merits of thy life and death. I rejoice to see thee so great, so pure, so generous, so faithful to Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel, and so splendidly rewarded in Heaven, and on earth. Attracted by thy example to the practice of solid virtue full of hope at the sight of thy recompense granted to thy merits. I resolve to follow thee in avoiding all evil and in fully obeying what God commands. Help me, O great Saint by thy powerful intercession. Obtain for me particularly, a purity inviolable forever, a strength of soul always invincible in every kind of assault, a generosity which denies no sacrifice to God, and a love as strong as death for the Faith of Jesus Christ, for the Holy Roman Church and for Our Holy Father, the Father of all the Faithful, the Shepherd of shepherds and of their flocks, the Vicar of Jesus Christ over all the world.

 

With all the fervor of my soul, I implore these graces from thee, and, in addition, I ask these other benefits from thee with equal confidence in obtaining them through thy powerful intercession. (Here tell Saint Philomena what you need, with simplicity, confidence and humility).

 

Surely that God so good for Whom thou didst give thy blood and thy life that God so good Who is so generous to thee and through thy mediation, so generous with gifts and favors to us, that God so good Who has loved me even unto dying for me, even unto giving me Himself under the Eucharistic appearances, surely He will never be deaf to thy prayers, nor to my appeals, unless it be that He Himself is in some different way seeking to do me good. Full of confidence, I place all my trust in Him and in thee. Amen

 

FIRST DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena was a virgin… A virgin in such a world and in such an age… A virgin in spite of persecution… A virgin until death… What an example! Can I meditate upon it without blushing? What is the cause of my confusion? What is the remedy for it?
2. Humiliate yourself many times for the reason that has made you blush, remembering her virginal purity.
3. Assist at Holy Mass in her honor and visit one of her statues or pictures, if you can do so conveniently.

 

SECOND DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena was and did not cease to be a virgin… Because she knew how to control the corrupt desires of the flesh… How to preserve, in the use of her senses, the modesty of Jesus Christ, holding aloof from a deceitful world and from dangerous occasions. Do you imagine her in all that? What are the sources of your temptations… of your weaknesses… of your anxieties… of your falls? Try to eliminate these sources.
2. Fly from everything that has injured you. Practice what you have had the misfortune to neglect with regard to purity.
3. As on the first day.

 

THIRD DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena preserved and increased the love which she had for chastity by means of prayer which is the abundant source of spiritual life… by means of the Sacraments, wherein the soul is washed in the Blood of Jesus Christ, and is nourished with His Sacred Body, divine gem of Christian chastity… by remembering that her members were the members of the Body of Jesus Christ, and that her body was the temple of the Holy Spirit… It is not true that you have these same means at your disposal? What use do you ask of them?
2. Redouble the fervor of all your prayers… Say to yourself from time to time. My members are those of Jesus Christ… the temple of the Holy Spirit.

 

FOURTH DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena was a Martyr… that she had to suffer… to suffer much… to suffer even unto death, and that she showed an invincible patience in these torments…Are suffering and patience invariably found together in you? You have to suffer rarely… to suffer a little… never to suffer to the extent of dying from it. Now whence is the reason for so much weakness on your part? Do you not want to remedy that weakness? What sort of remedy will you choose?
2. Suffer patiently those few sorrows oppositions and pains which the Lord may be pleased to send you this day.
3. As on the first day.

 

FIFTH DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena suffered martyrdom for Jesus Christ… They wanted to wrest her Faith from her… they wanted to make her violate her Baptismal vows, to persuade her to follow the example of idolaters and apostates. And what does the devil, the world; the flesh and your own heart want from you on so many occasions but the same sort of unfaithfulness? All forms of it are an offence against God. Are these not vain fears, indeed, which make you lacking something in your duties, or which cause you to betray your faith?… O my God, what a shameful slackness!…Take courage at last…
2. To overcome human respect, say to yourself from time to time: It is better to please God than men.
3. As on the first day.

 

SIXTH DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena, is dying for Jesus Christ, had to put into practice the maxim of the Savior. “He who does not despise his father, his mother and even his own life for the love of Me, cannot be called disciple.” She did not hesitate… She sacrificed everything, no matter how her blood and her nature raised their voices in protest. In far less difficult circumstances do we show ourselves to be worthy of Jesus Christ. If at some juncture we were called upon to choose between God and creatures, between grace and nature, between the love of God and the affection of creatures, to whom would we give our preference?… Oh! in the future let us no longer fall away from our dignity as sons of God and disciples of Jesus Christ.
2. Let us endeavor during this day to please only God, or to please creatures solely for God’s sake. Let us remove far from us all disordered affection.
3. As on the first day.

 

SEVENTH DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena, in dying for Jesus Christ, had to endure the jeers, the sarcasms, the outrages of her persecutors, of her executioners and of the majority of the witnesses to her torture… She was none the less generous, none the less constant, none the less joyous in the public confession of her faith… If the world gave you a similar chalice to drink would you have enough courage to drain the bitterness of it with the same kind of sentiments? Oh! What do the jokes, the scorn, or the most unjust or bloodiest persecution of the world matter?… Can anything ever dishonor a soul that is honored by God? Fear nothing… Follow out your road… It is leading straight to the possession of eternal glory.
2. Do not allow your heart to be changed if abrupt words are spoken to you, or rough, biting and offensive words, are hurled at you.
3. As on the first day.

 

EIGHT DAY

1. Consider that when Saint Philomena died, for love of Jesus Christ, to all the things of this wretched world, she entered into the joy of eternal life… Yes I am certain, she said in her heart: “the supreme Judge will give me the crown of justice which He has promised me in return for all the fleeting goods which I sacrifice to His Love.” She dies… and behold her in the tabernacle of God, with the Saints who follow the Lamb… Are these the thought which I try to have when I find myself confronted with some sacrifice?… What impression do they make on my spirit?… To what side do they make the balance fall?… Ah! in order to gain all, the Saints used to say: “Let us lose it all”… and what shall I say?
2. To-day let us decide on some voluntary sacrifice… Let us do readily and with a good heart everything in connection with our duties.
3. As on the first day.

 

NINTH DAY

1. Consider that Saint Philomena, having sacrificed everything in this miserable world for Jesus Christ, received back from Himself in this world more than the hundredfold of what He had given! What renown! What power! What glory! What greatness humbled at her feet! What throngs of pilgrims to her different Shrines! What festivities in her honor. What tributes of reverence have been paid to her! What an ardent longing to get possession of her relics! Thus precisely does God fulfill His promises. Ah! If only we maintained our promises to Him with the same fidelity! But when we deprive Him of His glory, do we not perhaps deprive ourselves of great merit and favor both in this world and in the next?… Courage, therefore… Be faithful in order that God may be faithful with you.
2. Today do some little work of mercy in honor of the Saint. Prepare yourself! By a good Confession to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in a fitting manner in Holy Communion
3. As on the first day.

Let us Pray

O God, who in Thy great might didst raise up martyrs even from among the weaker sex, grant, we beseech Thee, that we who celebrate the feast of Thy blessed Virgin and Martyr, Philomena, may be led by her example and brought by her to thee: Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth one God, in perfect Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.

St Peter Martyr 29-April (& the Peter Martyr palms)

Also called Peter of Verona, an inquisitor and martyr. Peter was born at Verona, Italy, in 1205. Both of his parents were Catharists, a heresy that denied God created the material world. Even so, Peter was educated at a Catholic school and later at the University of Bologna. While in Bologna, Peter was accepted into the Dominican Order by St. Dominic.

He developed into a great preacher, and was well known for his inspiring sermons in the Lombardy region. In addition, around the year 1234, he was appointed by Pope Gregory IX as inquisitor of Northern Italy, where many Catharists lived. Peter’s preaching attracted large crowds, but as inquisitor he made many enemies.

In 1252, while returning from Como to Milan, he was murdered by a Catharist assassin at the age of forty-six. The following year, he was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.

Although his parents were members of a heretical sect, St. Peter of Verona was strong in his Catholic Faith. However, his faithfulness to the Gospel message in his preaching as a Dominican, brought about much opposition, and eventually Peter paid with his life for preaching the truth. One of the hazards of preaching and living the Gospel is that we must be considered undesirable according to worldly values. With faith in the Father, and as his children, we are called to stand firm and never waver from the truth in the face of death. Canonized the year after his death by Pope Innocent IV, he was also named the patron saint of inquisitors. Since 1969, his cult has been locally confined. His feast day is April 29th.

The Palm Blessing

editor note- I’ve personally seen these work.  Years ago I had palms blessed on his feast day.  We had a tornado warning pop up right at noon (minutes after I walked out of the church) & was able to pass out a number of palms to friends around town. The next day I heard others (who didn’t know about the palms) say “that storm seemed to go around us” as a tornado hit the opposites sides of the town which I passed out the palms.  Where I am currently located there is a high risk of hail damage.  All around me has been hit with damaging hail whereas my area has only received one hail ‘storms’ and it was very small hail & never any damage.

We leave you with a poem St. Thomas Aquinas composed about St. Peter Martyr.

Here silent is Christ’s Herald;
Here quenched, the People’s Light;
Here lies the martyred Champion
Who fought Faith’s holy fight.

The Voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Saviour crowns His Soldier;
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With martyr’s fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

From the Dominican Providence of St Joseph website: In 2007, Pope Benedict issued the Instruction Universae ecclesiae on the implementation of the Apostolic Letter Summorum pontificum, which was issued motu proprio.  Among other things, the Instruction clarified that religious orders, including the Order of Preachers, are permitted to use the liturgical books in force in 1962.  Among the liturgical books of the Roman Rite specifically mentioned by the Holy Father was the Rituale Romanum, or Roman Ritual.  Before the Second Vatican Council, it was common to reserve certain blessings of object to religious orders.  These were often associated with the invocation of a particular saint. In the Dominican Order, a number of popular blessings arose especially with St. Peter Martyr (or St. Peter of Verona), the first Dominican saint to be canonized, and whose feast the Order celebrates on June 4.  Below are two blessings, in Latin and English, from the tradition of the Order associated with this great saint. The first of these blessings is for so-called “Peter Martyr Water”.  Like the Vincent Ferrer Water, the first blessing invokes the saint’s prayers through the medium of water for the sake of those who are sick.  Many people are familiar with “Lourdes Water” from the miraculous stream associated with the apparition of Mary in the town of Lourdes in France.  That water, too, has been associated with asking God to heal the sick, through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The second blessing is associated with St. Peter’s status at the Order’s first martyr.  In Christian iconography, the palm branch is associated with martyrs, as in the image below.  This is in part a reverence to the Chapter 7 of the Book of Revelation:  “behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands”.  They people dressed in white robes carrying palm branches are described by the angel, saying that, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The blessings below may be given by any priest.

Blessing of Water with the Relics of St. Peter Martyr

“St. Peter Martyr Water”

V: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.

V: The Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.

Let us pray. God, who for man’s salvation instituted the most wonderful mysteries in the element of water, hearken to our prayer, and pour forth your blessing + on this element, water, which we now make holy in the name of St. Peter the Martyr. By the intercession of this martyr of yours let it prove a salutary remedy for your faithful, driving out evil spirits and warding off illness and suffering of body and spirit. May all who drink of it or are sprinkled with it be delivered from every affliction of body and soul and regain health in their whole being; through Christ our Lord. R: Amen. Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, we humbly appeal to your mercy and goodness to graciously bless + by your indescribable power these your faithful people, who come to venerate the relics of St. Peter Martyr and beg his intercession. Delivered by your martyr’s prayers from every affliction of mind and body, protected by your mercy here and everywhere, and saved by your grace, may they deserve, after this life has run its course, to attain the joys that are unending; through Christ our Lord. R: Amen.

Benedictio Aquae cum Reliquiis S. Petri Martyris

Sacredos stolam rubram deferens dicat:

V. Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dóminus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spíritu tuo.

Orémus. Deus, qui ad salútem humáni géneris máxima quaeque sacraménta in aquárum substántia condidísti, adésto propítius invocatiónibus nostris, et eleménto huic aquae, quod beáti Petri Mártyris tui virtúte consignámus, virtútem tuae bene+dictiónis infúnde: ut, per intervéntum ejúsdem Mártyris tui, sit fidélibus tuis in remédium salutáre, daémones ab eis ejíciens, morbos ac infirmitátes córporis et ánimae repéllens, et praesta, ut, quicúmque eam súmpserint, vel ea aspérsi fúerint, ab omni adversitáte ánimae et córporis liberéntur et utriúque hóminis recípiant sanitátem. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen. Orémus. Imménsam cleméntiam tuam, omnípotens aéterne Deus, humíliter implorámus: ut hos fidéles tuos, ad relíquias beáti Petri Mártyris devote accedéntes, et ejus suffrágia postulántes, tua ineffábili virtúte bene+dícere dignéris, ut, per intervéntum ejúsdem Mártyris tui, ab omni aegritúdine mentis et córporis liberáti, tuáque hic et ubíque misericórdia custodíti et grátia salváti, post hujus quoque viae ac vitae cursum, ad aetérna mereántur gáudia perveníre. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen.

 

Blessing of Palms or Other Foliage on the Feast of St. Peter Martyr

V: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R: Who made heaven and earth.

V: The Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we beg you to bless + these tree-branches, to pour out on them a heavenly blessing, by the power of the holy + cross and the prayers of St. Peter Martyr; for when you once went forth to triumph over the enemy of mankind, you willed that little children pay honor to you, waving palms and tree-branches before you. By the sign of the holy + cross, let these branches be so endowed with your blessing, that wherever they are kept the prince of darkness with all his followers may flee in fear and trembling from such homes and places; no damage may be done there from lightning and storm; no inclement weather consume or destroy the fruits of the earth; no happening disturb or molest those who serve you, the almighty God, who live and reign forever and ever. R: Amen.

They are sprinkled with holy water.

Benediction Olivarum in Festo S. Petri Martyris

Sacerdos stolam deferens dicat:

V. Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dóminus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spíritu tuo.

Orémus. Dómine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, bene+díc hos árborum ramos supplicatiónibus nostris et infúnde eis, Dómine, per virtútem Sanctae Cru+cis et per intercessiónem beáti Petri Mártyris, benedictiónem caeléstem, qui triumphatúrus de hoste géneris humáni per manus puerórum palmas et árborum ramos in honórem tuum ahibére voluísti, talémque benedictiónem signáculo Sanctae Cru+cis accípiant: ut, in quibuscúmque locis áliquid ex eis pósitum fúerit, discédant príncipes tenebrárum et contremíscant et fúgiant pávidi cum ómnibus minístris suis de locis vel habitatiónibus illis. Non ibi nóceant fúlmina et tempestátes, non fructus terrae consúmat aut depérdat ulla intempéries eleménti, nihílque inquiétet aut moléstet serviéntes tibi omnipoténti Deo. Qui vivis et regnas in saécula saeculórum. R. Amen.

Aspergantur aqua benedicta.

[The original blessings in Latin are taken from the Breviarium Juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum issued under the authority of Fr. Emmanuel Suarez, Master of the Order of Preachers, in 1952.  The translations, slightly modified, are taken from The Roman Ritual, translated by Philip T. Weller, S.T.D., and published in 1964 by the Bruce Publishing Co.]

 

St Valentine 14-February

St. Valentine, Priest and Martyr
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger

The holy Priest Valentine lived at the time of the Emperor Claudius. He was held in high estimation, both by the Christians and heathens, on account of his natural amiability, wisdom and virtue. Claudius himself desired to see him, and on his being brought into his presence, said to him: “Why do you refuse to be my friend, when I wish to become yours? Nothing in you displeases me, but that you confess a faith which is against our gods.” Valentine replied: “O Emperor! if you knew the God I worship, you would consider yourself blessed to serve Him. He it is who has given you your life and your crown, and who alone can make you eternally happy.” One of those present interrupted him, saying: “What think you, then, of Jupiter,–of Mercury?” “I think that they have been wicked men, as their lives show,” answered the Priest;” and, therefore, they are unworthy to be called gods.” “That is sacrilege!” cried many: “Valentine deserves to die!” Valentine begged the Emperor graciously to lend him his ear, only for a short space of time, that he might defend his words.

Having received permission to speak, he placed the falsity, of the heathen gods and the truth of the God of the Christians so clearly before their eyes, that the Emperor, prepossessed in his favor, said to those surrounding him: “I must confess this man speaketh with much reason, and nothing can be said to confute his teaching.” Calphurnius, the Governor, who was also present, on hearing the Emperor speak thus, was filled with fear that he would embrace the Christian faith, and cried: “Valentine is a sorcerer, a blasphemer of the gods of the Empire! He must die, or an insurrection will break out among the people!” This speech alarmed the Emperor to such a degree that he gave up the holy Priest entirely into the hands of the Governor.

Calphurnius immediately cast him into a dungeon, and gave orders to Judge Asterius to accuse him as an enemy of the gods, according to law. Asterius wished first to make an attempt to win over the Priest, who was so universally loved, from the Christian faith, but to the good fortune of the judge, the contrary took place. Valentine restored the sight of the daughter of Asterius, who had been blind for many years, and, in consequence, the judge and his whole family forsook their idolatry and were baptized. When this was reported to the Emperor, he admired the power of the God whom Valentine adored, and endeavored to set the Saint free, but again frightened by Calphurnius with an insurrection, he at length gave orders to behead him. Saint Valentine received his death sentence with great joy, and ended his life by a glorious martyrdom.

Practical Considerations

The holy Priest Valentine desires to convert the heathen Emperor, and endeavors to convince him of the falsity of his idols and the truth of the Christian God. How is it with you? Have you a true knowledge of the God in whom you believe? Do you strive to obtain it? To prefer, and more frequently to go to the theatre than to listen to a sermon; to prefer, and more frequently to read, a silly, or perhaps a sinful book, than a book of devotion; to prefer, and more frequently to speak of worldly affairs, of voluptuousness, of games, of luxurious garments, of your neighbors’ faults, or even of obscenities, than of God and holy subjects; these are not the means by which men are led to the most necessary knowledge of God. By listening to the Word of God, by reading books of devotion, by pious conversation, and by divine contemplation, we come to the knowledge of God. Do you make use of these means, or do you, perhaps, think that it is not so necessary to attain a knowledge of God? What! You surely are aware that Christ said: “Now this is eternal life,” that is the condition, the foundation, the first means to the eternal life: “that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (St. John,, ch. xvii.).

Where there is no knowledge of God, there is no true faith in Him, no true hope, no true love, no fear of God, no hope of salvation. St. Jerome said rightly: “The man who acknowledges not God, should rather be called an unreasonable animal than a man.” Where the knowledge of God is wanting, there the greatest crimes find an easy entrance and prevail; according to the words of the Prophet, “There is no knowledge of God in the land. Cursing, and lying, and killing, and theft, and adultery have overflowed” (Osee, chapter iv.). What can follow such crimes but eternal ruin? Consequently, strive zealously, through the means above mentioned, to attain a true knowledge of God. The better your comprehension of God, the more immovable will be your faith, the firmer your hope, the more ardent your love for Him, the more fervent your zeal to serve Him, the more carefully will you shun sin and endeavor to perform good actions. And this, believe me, is the only path that leads to salvation.

Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop


Today we keep our annual celebration of the triumph of the blessed Martyr Valentine, and the Church, while rejoicing in his glory, places him before us, that we may follow in his footsteps. If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him. There are two things to be considered in this glorious combat: namely, the hard-hearted cruelty of the torturer, and the unconquered patience of the Martyr–the cruelty of the torturer, that we may detest it; the patience of the Martyr, that we may imitate it. Hear what the Psalmist says in reproof of wickedness: Be not emulous of evildoers, for they shall shortly wither away as grass. But the Apostle teaches patience with the wicked in the words: Patience is necessary for you, that you may receive the promise.

St. Valentine’s Day
(The Manual of the Holy Catholic Church, 1906)

Of St. Valentine few particulars are known. He was a holy priest of Rome, put to death about the year 270. One of the great Roman gates was built in his honor and called after him. It is now known as “del Popolo.”

But the name of St. Valentine has come down to us associated with the remnant of a pagan custom, that of choosing for a year some person to whom honor should be paid. The casting of lots was held on the 15th of February, and with it began the Roman festival of Lupercalia, in honor of the god Pan and the goddess Juno. To put down so dangerous a feast-making, the Church, according to Alban Butler, instituted the custom of drawing saints to be venerated for a year on the feast of St. Valentine, the day preceding that of the pagan lot-drawing, thus substituting heavenly for earthly love.

This old, old custom of choosing some one to love, to be looked up to, sets one thinking. So widespread a custom, lasting, too, for so long a time through the pagan era through the Middle Ages, even to our own day, seems to point to some natural cause. And it does. We are social beings in the natural and supernatural order, conscious of weakness and insufficiency when standing alone. In the garden of Paradise the foundation of society was laid when Adam said, “a man shall leave father and mother and cleave to his wife,” showing that at no period of his life need he stand alone. The supernatural order is based upon the two great laws, ”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

And there is such a stretching out of hands towards our fellow-creatures, such an expansion of heart at the sight of suffering or sorrow or need, that we have to be on our guard, lest it work in us merely from a natural goodness without the sacred stamp of grace.

This custom then of drawing saints to be our patrons for the year is a happy thought, bearing upon the inward yearning towards others; it is an expression of the loneliness of the human heart, its want of sympathy; it is also the bond between Heaven and earth. We are not made like the beasts with our eyes level with the ground, tending downwards. We have a right to invade the unseen world, to choose helpers there, to count upon assistance and comfort and cheering, where there is so much consolation, help, and joy.

A certain number of patrons were chosen for us by our parents without our having a say in the matter. Others we ourselves chose at confirmation, but without any very distinct idea of what we were doing, perhaps. But our patron on Valentine’s day can be one of mature deliberation, based upon a natural attraction and admiration, one whose example in the battle-field of life will be a help to us in our hour of trial. The more communion we can have with Heaven the better for us. The more our interests lie above, the less will the chains of earth rivet us to things below. And the chains of earth do bind. They bind in childhood and in youth; in middle manhood and old age. So the spirit that soars upward is the brave spirit, the safest, the happiest, and the strongest. There have been those who, in extreme old age, could show a long list of patrons whom they had honored for a year each with particular devotion, and when the allotted time was over added them to the long list of their predecessors, and invoked them still with the new Valentine of the New Year. What an array there would be of choice saints to meet such as these when they came to their Heavenly reward.

To some of us who do not love multiplicity our own namesake may be our perpetual Valentine–the patron given to us at our baptism, or chosen at our confirmation, or at any other solemn occasion. Let these then become realities to us, living friends and helpers, substantial guardians. The Heavenly patron will never be wanting to his earthy client–of that we may be sure. Let us not be wanting to him. St. Valentine, pray for us!

 

St Stephen -December 26th

December 26—ST. STEPHEN, First Martyr

THERE is good reason to believe that St. Stephen was one of the seventy-two disciples of our blessed Lord. After the Ascension he was chosen one of the seven deacons. The ministry of the seven was very fruitful; but Stephen especially, “full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people.” Many adversaries rose up to dispute with him, but “they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit that spoke.” At length he was brought before the Sanhedrim, charged, like his divine Master, with blasphemy against Moses and against God. He boldly upbraided the chief priests with their hard-hearted resistance to the Holy Ghost and with the murder of the “Just One.” They were stung with anger, and gnashed their teeth against him. But when, “filled with the Holy Ghost and looking up to heaven, he cried out, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God,’ they rushed upon him, and dragging him forth without the city, they stoned him to death”

Reflection.—If ever you are tempted to resentment, pray from your heart for him who has offended you.

Introit

Ps 118:23; 118:86; 118:23
Sedérunt príncipes, et advérsum me loquebántur: et iníqui persecúti sunt me: ádiuva me, Dómine, Deus meus, quia servus tuus exercebátur in tuis iustificatiónibus.
Ps 118:1
Beati immaculáti in via, qui ámbulant in lege Dómini

Princes met and talked against me, and the wicked persecuted me wrongfully; help me, O Lord my God, for Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Ps 118:1
Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.

Collect

Da nobis, quǽsumus, Dómine, imitári quod cólimus: ut discámus et inimícos dilígere; quia eius natalícia celebrámus, qui novit étiam pro persecutóribus exoráre Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum:

Grant us, we beseech You, O Lord, to imitate what we celebrate, so that we may learn to love even our enemies; because we keep the anniversary of the death of Him Who knew how to plead even for His persecutors with our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son,

Lesson

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.
Act 6:8-10; 7:54-59
In diebus illis: Stéphanus plenus grátia et fortitúdine, faciébat prodígia et signa magna in pópulo. Surrexérunt autem quidam de synagóga, quæ appellátur Libertinórum, et Cyrenénsium, et Alexandrinórum, et eórum, qui erant a Cilícia et Asia, disputántes cum Stéphano: et non póterant resístere sapiéntiæ et Spirítui, qui loquebátur. Audiéntes autem hæc, dissecabántur córdibus suis, et stridébant déntibus in eum. Cum autem esset Stéphanus plenus Spíritu Sancto, inténdens in coelum, vidit glóriam Dei, et Iesum stantem a dextris Dei. Et ait: Ecce, vídeo coelos apértos, et Fílium hóminis stantem a dextris Dei. Exclamántes autem voce magna continuérunt aures suas, et ímpetum fecerunt unanímiter in eum. Et eiiciéntes eum extra civitatem, lapidábant: et testes deposuérunt vestiménta sua secus pedes adolescéntis, qui vocabátur Saulus. Et lapidábant Stéphanum invocántem et dicéntem: Dómine Iesu, súscipe spíritum meum. Pósitis autem génibus, clamávit voce magna, dicens: Dómine, ne státuas illis hoc peccátum. Et cum hoc dixísset, obdormívit in Dómino.
R. Deo gratias.

In those days, Stephen, full of grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. But there arose some from the synagogue which is called that of the Freedmen, and of the Cyrenians and of the Alexandrians and of those from Cilicia and the province of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit Who spoke. Now as they heard these things, they were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth at him. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed upon him all together. And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And while they were stoning Stephen he prayed and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying, Lord, do not lay this sin against them. And with these words he fell asleep.
R. Thanks be to God.

Offertory

Act 6:5; 7:59
Elegérunt Apóstoli Stéphanum Levítam, plenum fide et Spíritu Sancto: quem lapidavérunt Iudaei orántem, et dicéntem: Dómine Iesu, áccipe spíritum meum, alleluia.

The Apostles chose Stephen to be a levite, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit: whom the Jews stoned, praying and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Alleluia.

Post Communion

Auxiliéntur nobis, Dómine, sumpta mystéria: et, intercedénte beáto Stéphano Mártyre tuo, sempitérna protectióne conferment.

May the sacrament we have received aid us, O Lord; and by the intercession of blessed Stephen, Your Martyr, may it sustain us under Your everlasting protection.