Monday, 11 August 2014

St. Philomena

"In May 1802, excavators in the ancient Catacomb of St. Priscilla in Rome came upon an intact shelf-tomb sealed with terracotta slabs in the manner usually reserved for nobility or great martyrs.

The tomb was marked with three tiles inscribed with the following confusing words: LUMENA/PAXTE/CUMFI. However, if one places the first tile last and separates the words properly, the very intelligible Latin sentence emerges: Pax tecum Filumena, which is 'Peace be with you, Philomena'. Also inscribed on the tiles were several symbols: a lily, arrows, an anchor and a lance, which would appear to indicate virginity and martyrdom. Inside the coffin were discovered the remains of a girl of about twelve or thirteen years of age, along with a vial or ampulla of her dried blood.

Transferred to the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity in the Vatican, the remains were soon forgotten by the general public, especially since no record existed of a virgin martyr named Philomena.

But in 1805, a Neopolitan priest, Don Francesco di Lucia, travelling to Rome with his newly appointed bishop, requested and, after a brief delay, received the relics of this martyr, Philomena, to enshrine in his village church at Mugnano, near Naples.

Immediately upon the official donation of St. Philomena's sacred remains, signal favours began to be granted through her intercession and unusual events to occur.

The favours, graces, and even miracles, started to increase, even before their enshrinement at Mugnano, and they steadily grew in number thereafter - such that this holy virgin martyr soon earned the title 'Philomena, Powerful with God'.

In 1837, only some thirty-five years after her exhumation, Pope Gregory XVI elevated this 'Wonder-Worker of the Nineteenth Century' to sainthood.

In an act unprecedented in the history of the Church, she became the only person officially recognised by the Church as a saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession, since nothing was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom".

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