Our Patroness, Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr

 

Pictured is the Tomb of Saint Philomena containing her sacred relics above her altar at the International Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino, Italy. 

On 25 May 1802, excavators in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla in Rome found a tomb sealed with terra cotta slabs in the manner often reserved for martyrs.

The tomb was marked with three tiles, inscribed with the following: LUMENA / PAX TE / CUM FI. Reading the markers beginning with the middle tile, a Latin sentence emerges:  Pax tecum, Filumena, which translates  "Peace be with you, Philomena."    
                                   

Also inscribed on the tiles were symbols: a lily, the symbol of purity and virginity, a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom,  arrows, an anchor and a lance.  The remains Inside the tomb were examined and found to be those of a young girl of about twelve or thirteen years of age.  Also found in the tomb was a vial of blood, consistent with the practice of the early church when burying a Martyr.

The body was transferred to the Treasury of the Rare Collections of Christian Antiquity in the Vatican until in 1805, a priest, Don Francesco di Lucia, traveling to Rome, received the relics of this martyr "Philomena" to enshrine in his village church at Mugnano del Cardinale.

Unusual events immediately began to occur immediately. Graces and miracles occurred, even before her remains arrived at Mugnano del Cardinale and she quickly became known as "Philomena, Powerful with God."

In 1837, Pope Gregory XVI elevated this "Wonder-Worker of the Nineteenth Century" to sainthood. Saint Philomena thus became the only person recognized by the Church as a Saint solely on the basis of her intercession after her death.



The Original Clay Tiles preserved in an altar at the Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino, Italy


The name of "Filumena" is officially granted to the sacred remains examined on May 25, 1802, as recorded in the following text of a document issued by Mons. Hyacinth Ponzetti, the Custodian of Sacred Relics, granting the remains of the Christian martyr to the Diocese of Nola, Italy, on 8 June 1805:


          8 Iunii 1805

          Dono dedi Ven. Ecclesiae Archipresbyterali terrae Mugnano Dioecesis Nolanae corpus Sanctae Christi Martyris FILUMENAE

          Nominis proprii sic picti in tribus Tabulis laterariis cinabro    LUMENA PAXTE CUM FI     in pulverem et in fragminaactum per me            infrascriptum Custodem extractum cum vasculo vitreo fracto ex Coemeterio Priscillae Via Salaria Nova die 25 maii 1802, quod llocavi   

          in capsula lignea charta colorata cooperta et consignavi Illmo Dominico Caesari pro Illmo et Rmo D. Bartholomaeo de Caesare Epo Potentino.

          HYACINTHUS PONZETTI,
                        Custos



The History of the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena

Many noble souls greatly loved Saint Philomena and consecrated themselves to her devotion and protection. Most distinguished among these are Father Francesco DeLucia who brought the holy relics of Saint Philomena to his parish church, and the Curé of Ars, who attributed all of the many miracles which took place in his parish to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Philomena. 

Another of her great devotees was Father Louis Petit, who dedicated his whole life to making the young Saint well known and loved, to this end he founded the "Work of Saint Philomena." "It is not our intention" - said the virtuous Father Petit - "to make the cult of Saint Philomena a devotion which could distract from the cult of the Blessed Virgin, or even more, the adoration of God himself. This would not be Christian, as we know from the teachings of the Church. With our cult to Saint Philomena we honor God who is reflected in his Saints. Honoring Saint Philomena we proclaim God's power in the strengths of his martyrs, and his endless kindness in the favors that He concedes through the intercession of his Saints. This was the theology of the Saint Curé of Ars and this will be ours as well." 

As a seminarian his parents moved to Paris, in the area of the parish church of Saint-Gervais. This church was the only one in the capital with devotions to Saint Philomena well established. As his dedication to this Virgin Martyr grew, in 1872 he founded the periodical L'Echo de SaintePhiloméne, which he published for two years. Even before he was ordained a priest, he also published Histoire du culte de SaintePhiloméne, "History of the cult of Saint Philomena." 

He was ordained in 1879 and two years later joined the Congregation of Saint Vincent de Paul. He spent his priesthood the spreading devotion to Saint Philomena and created a center from which to promote 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 Message 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. 

On 10 February 1884 in Paris, Father Petit, with the blessing and approval of Cardinal Giubert, founded the Confraternity of Saint Philomena, also known as the Work of Saint Philomena, which had as its intention spreading the Christian message among the working classes and which still today, following the directives of the Sanctuary of Mugnano, spreads the cult of Saint Philomena all over the world. He joyfully witnessed this pious association become a Universal Archconfraternity with an official act of Pius X on May 21, 1912. He died in Paris in 1914, after faithfully serving our Saint whom he deeply loved and venerated.

Following the footsteps of the venerable Father Petit and under the guidance of the highly esteemed Rector Msgr. Gennaro Ippolito, the Sanctuary published the bulletin "The Voice of Saint Philomena." The Messenger of Saint Philomena was revived by Msgr. Giovanni Braschi, Rector of the Sanctuary. It was written and published in Scotland by Marie Burns, International Director of the Archconfraternity, Michael Malley who had for the previous 13 years served to promote devotion to our Saint in Scotland, and through the generosity of Rosemary Campbell of Scotland, it continued to be published in Italy.

In 2011, Monsignor Giovanni Braschi, Rector of the International Shrine of St. Philomena and President of the Universal Archconfraternity, travelled to the United States to visit St. Philomena Devotional Centers, to establish new ones, and to make a number of appointments to assist in the work of the Archconfraternity.

At a Solemn Mass and Conference held at St. Philomena Church in Pennsylvania, Monsignor Braschi appointed Reverend Chad Partain, Chancellor of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, Director of the Congregation of the Children of Mary. The St. Philomena’s Youth for Purity Program was thus established as a joint work of the Universal Living Rosary Association and the Universal Archconfraternity of St. Philomena, in an effort to promote chastity, purity and holiness among the youth and to enlist them in the cause of Christ.  Reverend David Robinson, S.J. was appointed Deputy Spiritual Director of the Universal Archconfraternity for the United States and Reverend Jason V. Kulczynski was appointed Spiritual Director for Pennsylvania. Dr. Mark Miravalle, author of "It’s Time to Meet St. Philomena," was appointed to the post of Theological Consultant for the Archconfraternity. Various Regional Directors were also appointed at this time, Mrs. Lisa Bowen was named Regional Representative of the Archconfraternity for Delaware and Pennsylvania and Bernadette Morris was named Representative for Northern California.

February 2, 2012, marked the founding of the Priest Chaplains of St. Philomena by Reverend Jason V. Kulczynski, with the approval of Monsignor GIovanni Braschi, in honor of the Centennial year of the raising of the Archconfraternity to Universal or International status by Pope Saint Pius X  which took place on May 20, 1912.  Also in February of 2012, Monsignor Braschi also established the National Center of the Universal Archconfraternity in the United States, and appointed Father Kulczynski the first National Director. 

The National Center of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena for
United States is currently located at Holy Martyrs Roman Catholic Church  120 Allison Road  Oreland, PA 19075  email: philomenausa@outlook.com    phone:    215-884-8575    www.philomenafamilyusa.com

National Centers have also been established in Australia, headed by Reverend Peter Austin, Director of the National Center for Australia, as well as in Aruba, lead by Fr. Canuto E. F. Fuentebella, JCL, Director of the National Center for the Caribbean. 

New Centers continue to grow up around the world as more and more people learn about our little patroness, come to know her, and rely on her powerful intercession with Almighty God.



Devotion of the Popes to Saint Philomena



Pope Leo XII (1823-1829)

 
Pope Leo XII expressed the greatest admiration for this previously unknown young Saint and gladly gave his permission for the erection of altars and churches in her honor. “Philomena is a great saint,” he declared.


Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846)
 

He authorized public veneration of St. Philomena after his personal witness ot the miraculous healing of Blessed Pauline Jaricot (the Foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith). Pope Gregory formally raised St. Philomena to the dignity of the Altar in 1835.  He showed further exhibited his devotion to St Philomena by honoring her with the title: ‘Patroness of the Living Rosary.’  As a token of his esteem, he sent a beautiful gold and silver lamp to her Sanctuary. He directed: “Pray to St Philomena, whatever you ask from her, she will obtain for you.”


Pope Pius IX (1846-1878)
 
who proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, was also a great devotee of St Philomena. He offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the saint's altar at Mugnano del Cardinale, on November 7, 1849, and personally blessed the Shrine.  He also proclaimed her ‘Patroness of the Children of Mary.’

He approved a Mass and Proper Office in her honor.  This being an extraordinary privilege granted to comparatively few saints.  Among several papal votive gifts sent in honor of and in gratitude to St Philomena, he sent to her Shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, the chalice presented to him by the Belgian Federation of Catholic Circles on his Golden Episcopal Anniversary.  On his death bed, he requested that Pope Pius' pectoral cross, which for years he himself wore, be sent to be placed on the holy relics of St Philomena. This was a great display of confidence and an act of thanksgiving, for all to see.



Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903)

He wrote many encyclicals about the Rosary and the problems in our age, was a Pope of great vision. Before his election to the papacy, he had already made two pilgrimages to St Philomena’s shrine. After he became the Vicar of Christ, he gave a valuable cross to the Sanctuary of St Philomena. Pope Leo raised the level of St Philomena's Confraternity to that of an Archconfraternity and enriched it with many indulgences. A gesture of his love for her is witnessed by his approval and blessing of the Cord of St Philomena, attaching to its pious use, special privileges and indulgences.





Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914)

Pope Pius X manifested his devotion to St. Philomena in various ways. On  April 3, 1901, he commanded that all the decisions and declarations of his predecessors concerning St Philomena should in no way be altered. It was a very significant statement made by the Vicar of Christ.  On May 20, 1912, he raised the Archconfraternity of St Philomena to a Universal Archconfraternity, giving it international status in the Church, and named St. Jean-Marie Vianney its patron. This saintly Pope, known as the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament, on his death bed sent his ring to her shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, as a declaration of thanksgiving to St Philomena. This ring was placed on the finger of the image containing her relics, and remains  there still.



The Liturgical Cult of Saint Philomena seen through Pontifical Documents

 

Pope Leo XII, on March 15, 1826 with a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, granted the celebration of the Solemn Mass of the Common of a Virgin Martyr on the Feastday of Saint Philomena in her Sanctuary at Mugnano del Cardinale, Avellino Italy in accord with the Liturgical Directives. 

Pope Gregory XVI, with decree of September 6, 1834, granted the celebration of the Mass, even on a Sunday, on August 10th, day of the Translation of the Saint's body.

The Sacred Congregation of Rites, with the decree of September 6, 1834, granted to the secular and regular clergy of the Diocese of Nola the possibility to recite, on August 11th, the Office with the Mass of Virgins and Martyrs in honor of Saint Philomena. Pope Gregory XVI on January 30, 1837 approved this decree.

Pope Gregory XVI,
on March 16, 1839, with decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites,  granted to the clergy of Mugnano permission to recite the Office of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, on her feast.

Pope Gregory XVI, with the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on January 1, 1841 promotes the Office of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr in her own Church of Mugnano.

 

Pope Pius IX, in 1854, at the request of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, proclaims Saint Philomena second Patroness of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where the devotion toward the glorious Martyr is widely spread.

 Pope Pius IX, on January 11, 1855, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, granting the clergy of Mugnano the new Divine Office, with its own Mass, in honor of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr.

Pope Pius IX, on January 15, 1857, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, at the request of Mons. Joseph Formisano, Bishop of Nola, extending to the secular and regular clergy of the diocese of Nola the permission to celebrate the proper Office and the Mass in honor of Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, already approved and granted to the clergy of Mugnano and other dioceses.

Pope Pius IX, on April 15, 1858, approves the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites that grants to foreign priests who go to the Sanctuary in Mugnano to visit the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena, the indult to celebrate the Saint's Votive Mass at her altar, following the appropriate Liturgical Directives. 

Pope Pius IX,  grants temporarily to the Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena in Mugnano, the privilege to use the pontifical insignias in celebrating all the sacred functions in the Sanctuary.

 Pope Leo XIII, on January 14, 1896, grants permission for the celebration of the  Feast of the Patronage of Saint Philomena.

Pope Leo XIII,  grants a privileged Altar in the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena.

Pope Leo XIII, promotes the feast of Saint Philomena to second class rite for the entire Diocese of Nola.


Monsignor Giovanni Braschi, Rector, offers Mass at the Altar of St. Philomena
on the Feast of the Finding of her Relics, 2013


Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
Piazza Umberto I
83027 Mugnano del Cardinale
Avellino, Italy
Tel: 0039 081 825 7204 Fax: 0039 081 511 2733




U.S. National Center of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena
120 Allison Road
Oreland, PA   19075
215-884-8575

email:  philomenausa@gmail.com