Saint Philomena

Virgin & Martyr

Feast Day: August 10 & 11th (but is not even on the liturgical calendar)

Also known as: Filomena, Filumena, Philumena, Philomene

Saint Philomena is a saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church, said to have been a young Greek princess martyred in the 4th century. Her veneration began in the early 19th century as a result of an archaeological find; after news of the find spread, several miracles were credited to her intercession. Nothing was known of this little known saint until her relics were discovered in the ancient Catacombs of Saint Priscilla at the Via Salaria in Rome on May 25th, 1802. The tomb was sealed with terracotta slabs in the manner usually reserved for nobility or great martyrs.

The tomb had three tiles marked with these words: LUMENA / PAXTE /CUMFI. Reorganizing these words a new phrase takes meaning saying clearly PAX TECUM, FILUMENA (Peace be with you Philomena), also inscribed on the tiles were symbols: 2 anchors, 3 arrows and a palm, which would appear to indicate virginity and martyrdom. It was a common custom of the early Christians to leave symbols and signs such as these, if somebody they thought to be a Saint, died. In the coffin they found the skeleton of a fourteen year old girl, along with a vial of her dried blood. After more than 1600 years, St. Philomena’s tomb is discovered!!!

On the 10th of August, 1805, the relics of the saint were transferred to Mugnano, a hill town near Naples and the home of Canon de Lucia. Continuous miracles of every kind accompanied this transfer:

  • A mother of a blind son dipped her fingers into the oil of the lamp burning beside the tomb, placed the oil on the eyes of her son, and he was instantly healed.

  • A lady of rank had a cancerous ulcer on her hand which required an operation. A relic of the saint was brought to her. In the evening she placed it on the wound. The following morning, when the surgeon arrived to operate, he found to his surprise that the wound had disappeared.

  • Venerable Pauline Jaricot, a lady from France, was miraculously healed at the Shrine of St. Philomena from a live-threatening illness.

She became almost overnight one of the most popular saints in the Church, earning the nickname of "The Wonder-Worker" because of the countless remarkable favors that she sent to those who prayed to her. For a century and a half there was a worldwide Catholic devotion to St. Philomena, approved by many popes:

  • Pope Leo XII (1823-1829), granted permission for altars to be dedicated and chapels to be built in honour of Saint Philomena. He called her the Great Saint.

  • Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), mainly as a result of a miracle of healing brought about by Saint Philomena on Blessed Pauline Jaricot, issued a decree authorising the public cultus of Saint Philomena.

  • Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), named Saint Philomena Patroness of the Children of Mary in 1849. He approved a special Mass in her honour in 1854.

  • Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), raised the Saint Philomena Confraternity to the rank of an Arch-Confraternity, enriching it with many indulgences. He blessed and approved the Cord of Saint Philomena.

  • Pope Saint Pius X 1903-1914) had great devotion to Saint Philomena.. He encouraged an increase of devotion to the Saint and commanded that decisions and declarations of his predecessors concerning her be in no way changed. 

But amazingly, since the 1960's, she has been almost forgotten. On February 14, 1961, prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome issued an instruction of Pope Paul VI and removed St. Philomena's feast day from the liturgical calendars.

The Story:

Philomena's parents were pagans, rulers of a Greek state. Stone and plaster gods could not provide them with their hearts desires 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." She was Princess of Corfu.

t was on this account that they took her to Rome on a journey that her father was obliged to make on the occasion of an unjust war with which he was threatened by the haughty Diocletian. Philomena was then thirteen years old. On their arrival in the capital of the world, they proceeded to the palace of the Emperor and were admitted for an audience. As soon as Diocletian saw Philomena, his eyes were fixed upon her. The Emperor was enthralled by her beauty and wanted to marry her. But she refused and vowed to give herself to God. He wanted Philomena to be his wife, but she rejected his offer. Finally in a fit of fury he had her chained in a dungeon.

Philomena rejected all his offers, even though she was tortured and threatened with death. She was bound to a pillar and was savagely scourged. Seeing Philomena was terribly wounded Diocletian had her brought back to the prison to die. But she didn't.

He ordered her to be thrown in a river with an anchor tied to her neck. The emperor was still hoping she would change her mind, but she refused again. After being thrown in the river Philomena survived again. Diocletian ordered to throw her again in the river, but also this time she survived. Then he ordered her killed by arrows. but she survived.

Due the fact that many who saw how she was treated, and that she was still alive, they started to accept and become Christian.

Determined to put end to this shame and stop conversions, the emperor had her beheaded. And this all because she refused to lose her virginity to Diocletian. An inscription near her tomb read: "Peace be with thee Philomena", along with drawing of 2 anchors, 3 arrows and a palm. It was a common custom of the early Christians to leave symbols and signs such as these, if somebody they thought to be a saint, died. She is known for the extraordinary miracles that occur when she asked to pray for us.

It's highly recommended, that if you need any help, you ask for her prayers.

Her shrine is in Mugnano, Italy.

Patroness: of youth; of the Children of Mary; desperate causes; forgotten causes; impossible causes.

Lene Jacinta M. from Norway told:

I have the St. Philomena chaplet, and one day I decided to pray it for 9 days, especially for financial aid for myself and some missionaries in Guatemala. The next day I received $1019 on my bank account! When the novena was over, I learned that the missionaries had gotten the help they desperately needed; they wrote on their website: "We want to give a huge thank you to each of you who sent us contributions toward our trip as well as prayers for the Lord's supply. The Lord did it, and we'll be flying out on the 26th of July en-route for Berlin with a stop over in Madrid."
On the 16 July, Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, I began a St. Philomena chaplet novena again, for financial aid to myself and the Little Flowers Family Apostolate. The day after I'd begun the novena, I received $202 on my bank account. St. Philomena is really helping me out when it comes to economy - and I always make sure to give something back to God in thanksgiving for the aid He gives me through the intercession of this great Saint! I always make a donation to a Marian website or something else that is Catholic.

Link to the official website of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena 

Novena Prayer to Saint Philomena

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint Philomena, virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue.

Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular (Here specify your petition).

Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us.

O God, Most Holy Trinity, we thank Thee for the graces Thou didst bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, and upon Thy handmaid Philomena, through whose intercession we implore Thy Mercy.

Prayer to Saint Philomena

O faithful virgin and glorious martyr, St. Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowing, 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 favorable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before thee ... (Here mention 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.

St. Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us.

Litany to Saint Philomena

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ 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 Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, pray for us.

Saint Philomena,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, filled with the most abundant graces from your very birth,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, faithful imitator of Mary,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, model of virgins,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, temple of the most perfect humility,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, inflamed with zeal for the Glory of God,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, victim of the love of Jesus,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, example of strength and perseverance,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, invincible champion of chastity,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, mirror of the most heroic virtues,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, firm and intrepid in the face of torments,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, scourged like your Divine Spouse,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, pierced by a shower of arrows,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, consoled by the Mother of God when in chains,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, cured miraculously in prison,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, comforted by angels in your torments,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who preferred torments and death to the splendors of a throne,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who converted the witnesses of your martyrdom,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who wore out the fury of your executioners,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, protectress of the innocent,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, patron of youth,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, refuge of the unfortunate,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, health of the sick and the weak,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, new light of the church militant,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who confounds the impiety of the world,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who stimulates the faith and courage of the faithful,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, whose name is glorified in Heaven and feared in Hell,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, made illustrious by the most striking miracles,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, all powerful with God,
pray for us.

Saint Philomena, who reigns in glory,
pray for us.

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, Great 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 by reason of her eminent purity and the practice of all the virtues, pardon us our sins and grant us all the graces we need (and name any special grace you may require). Amen.

Composed by Saint John Vianney

Saint Philomena Chaplet

This chaplet consists of three white beads and
thirteen red beads. On the medal say the Apostles'
Creed to ask for the grace of faith.

On each of the white beads say an Our Father in
honor of the three Divine Persons of the Blessed
Trinity in thanksgiving for all favors obtained
through her intercession.

On each of the red beads, which are thirteen in
number to commerate the thirteen years that St.
Philomena spent on earth, say the following prayer:

Hail, O holy St. Philomena, whom I ac-
knowledge, after Mary, as my advocate with
the Divine Spouse, intercede for me now and
at the hour of my death.

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

In conclusion say:
Hail, O illustrious St. Philomena, who shed
so courageously your blood for Christ! I bless
the Lord for all the graces He has bestowed
upon thee during thy life, and especially at
thy death. I praise and glorify Him for the
honor and power with which He has crowned
thee, and I beg thee to obtain for me from God
the graces I ask through thy intercession.