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Who Is Saint Philomena?

In 1802, a worker’s pick-axe struck the surface of a tomb in the darkness of an underground cemetery, within the catacombs of Priscilla, Rome. A Vatican overseer was notified and came with several other witnesses. Sand was cleared away; the tomb of a martyr was unearthed. Three funeral tiles bore the words PAX TECUM FILUMENA - "Peace be with you, Philomena."

When authorities examined the remains found within, they discovered them to be the bones of a young woman between the ages of 13 and 15. With due reverence, the remains were taken to the treasury of Sacred Relics, and placed with care; but nothing at all was known about the saint, and it seemed that this would always be the case. How could anything more be discovered about a young woman who had died 1,500 years ago?

But Philomena’s legacy had just begun for Philomena herself appeared to a Dominican tertiary from Naples called Sister Maria Luisa di Gesù (1799–1875) and personally told her her story:

Saint Philomena was the daughter of a king in Greece who, with his wife, had converted to Christianity. At the age of about 13, she took a vow of consecrated virginity. When the Emperor Diocletian threatened to make war on her father, her father went with his family to Rome to ask for peace. The Emperor fell in love with the young Philomena but, when she refused to be his wife, subjected her to a series of torments: scourging, from whose effects two angels cured her; drowning with an anchor attached to her (two angels cut the rope and raised her to the river bank); being shot with arrows, (on the first occasion her wounds were healed; on the second, the arrows turned aside; and on the third, they returned and killed six of the archers, after which, several of the others became Christians). Finally the Emperor had her decapitated.

Since her discovery in the catacombs of Rome and the later moving of her relics arrived to Mugnano , Italy, Philomena became known as "The Wonder Worker" due to the overwhelming number of miracles worked through her intercession.


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