St. Philomena: Wonder Worker of the Nineteenth Century
On May 24, 1802, the remains of a young girl between the ages of 13 and 15 were found in the catacomb of St. Pricilla. Inscribed on a tablet found near her tomb were the words, "Peace be with thee, Philomena." There was also an anchor, a scourge, and three arrows, two pointing in opposite directions, and one with a curved line upon it, signifying fire, and intended to symbolize the different torments which the martyr endured in testimony of her faith in and love of Jesus Christ.1 Also, found with her bones was a thin, half-broken vase, whose inner wall was covered with congealed blood. It was blood which had been collected at the death of the martyr, according to the custom of the Christians during the persecutions, and placed with the remains as a testimonial to her death by martyrdom. The blood was loosened from the broken pieces of the vase and was carefully placed in a crystal urn. Those present, were amazed to see that these little particles of blood, as soon as they fell into the urn, "glittered like burnished gold or silver, or shone like diamonds and precious jewels, or, again, were resplendent in all colors of the rainbow."2 This extraordinary phenomenon continues to the present day.
St. Philomena's popularity soon became widespread. Her most well-known devotees were St. John Vianney, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, St. Peter Eymard, and St. Peter Chanel. After being miraculously cured, Pauline Jaricot insisted that Pope Gregory XVI begin an examination for the beatification of St. Philomena, who was to become known as the "wonder worker". After hundreds of other miraculous cures, she was beatified in 1837. St. Philomena, who the pope named as the Patroness of the Living Rosary and the Patroness of the Children of Mary, is the only person recognized as a saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession, although some revelations regarding her life have been recorded. Her relics are now preserved in Mugnano, Italy. 3
One day, around Christmastime, all of my family was at home, and we were trying to decide what saint's name I should take for confirmation. My Grandpa suggested "Ophelia," so, I got on the internet to check and see if a St. Ophelia even existed. I ended up finding Philomena. After reading the information on her, and learning that she was unique because she is the only person whose sainthood was based solely on their intercessory powers, I knew that Philomena was right for me. My family approves of my choice because she thinks that I chose Philomena for all the right reasons.
St. Philomena, like Jesus, died for God. She also has cured an amazing number of people since the discovery of her remains in 1802. Jesus cured numerous amounts of people during his life on earth. Philomena was also named thePatroness of the Children of Mary. Today her mission is to draw us to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through imitation of her heroic virtues of purity, obedience and humility.4
Philomena represents a time period which was especially difficult for our church to suffer through. Many Catholics, including Philomena, died for their beliefs during the age of persecutions. To forget them would be a horrible error. If you forget the past, then, there is no hope for the future, because the mistakes will just be repeated. St. Philomena can be an example for all, especially for the young women out there. Philomena stuck to her beliefs and she paid the ultimate price, she died for God.
The best way that we can be like St. Philomena today is by believing in our faith. She was so dedicated to her way of life that she was willing to die if she could not live as God intended. Most of the martyred saints of the time were at least twice Philomena's age. Isn't this the kind of role model that every teenager today needs?
1 .org "St Philomena Virgin, Martyr, and Wonder Worker"
2 .org "The Discovery of Saint Philomena's Relics"
3 .org "St. Philomena"
4 .org "St Philomena Virgin, Martyr, and Wonder Worker"