Much of what we know about Saint Philomena’s short yet extraordinary life comes to us from knowledge reputedly imparted to three visionary clients of the saint. Holy Mother Church has declared these visions worthy of our belief (ie: nothing in these visions is contrary to our Faith) but does not bind Catholics to accept them. Without further ado then here is a brief “life” of Saint Philomena.
Philomena’s parents were pagans, rulers of a Greek state. Stone and plaster gods could not provide them with their heart’s desire for they longed desperately to have a child. On becoming Catholics the two were blessed with a child whom they named Philomena which signifies “Daughter of Light.” Summoned to Rome to appear before the mighty tyrant Diocletian, Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Philomena’s parents included their daughter (now thirteen years of age) in their entourage in order not to be seperated from their loved one and to show the Greek Princess the many splendours of the capital of the ancient world. How bitterly they must have repented of this desire for no sooner had the powerful Diocletian beheld the beautiful maiden than he manifested his desire to make her his wife. Having bound herself to her Beloved Spouse Jesus at the age of eleven with a vow of perpetual chastity, Philomena now refused the hand of the Roman Emperor. Threats, entreaties, promises, all were wasted on the pious maiden who chose the spiritual love of the Lord of Heaven and His Eternal Rewards above the sensual love and material benevolence of the Lord of the Roman World.
The poor saint was to suffer terribly for her attachment to heavenly ideals. Time and space do not allow us to examine all the barbaric tortures that the poor child had to endure as the Emperor strove to break he allegiance to the crucified Nazarene. At last the gentle maiden who had shown such iron resolution was beheaded. As the executioner’s blade separated her head from her body, so did her pure soul separate from it’s house of flesh and take flight into the bosom of Our Lord and the bliss of Heaven.
Within the Priscillian Catacombs were placed her earthly remains and for many centuries the Daughter of Light was separated from the world by the dark of the tomb. On the 25th May, 1802 her body was discovered by excavators and the light that had defied the darkness of Imperial and Idolaterous Rome burst forth once more on a world, covered now not with the shadow of paganism, but of the principles of the French Revolution. To that light were drawn the sick, the despairing, the doubting, the strong and the weak. All found shelter, love, consolation. Her relics were placed in a shrine in Mugnano, Naples. Miracles abounded in this sanctuary but were not limited to it. Devotion to the saint spread throughout the whole world and her clients invoke her for every cause. Unlike saints who are characterised by a power of intercession for a particular cause such as Saint Raphael for travel, marriage and health, Saint Philomena’s power of intercession extends to all domains. The principle means of devotion to this saint are her cord, her medal, Saint Philomena’s oil and Saint Philomena’s chaplet. History will attest that there is no cause too great or too small for the saint’s intercessory power. Spiritual graces and temporal blessings, cures of all kinds, help in financial difficulties, patroness of the missions, of children in short assistance in all the different states of life which the Catholic faithful find themselves. You too, dear reader, are a ‘Catholic faithful’. Do you labour under some sorrow or difficulty? Of course! We all do. Go to Saint Philomena. She is just a prayer away.