Truly, Saint Philomena is a powerful intercessor, seemingly held quietly in reserve by Our Divine Lord during these many centuries, for especially strong help in our times, when so much confusion and absence of Faith are manifest. Her principal feast day is August 11.
Saint Philomena, powerful with God, Pray for us!
A young Greek princess martyred in the 4th century, her veneration began in the early 19th century after the archaeological discovery in the Catacomb of Saint Priscilla of the bones of a young woman, which were interpreted as those of a martyr. The tomb was marked with three tiles, inscribed with the following confusing words: LUMENA / PAXTE / CUM FI. However, if one places the first tile last and separates the words properly, the very intelligible sentence emerges: Pax tecum, Filumena, which is "Peace be with you, Philomena." Also inscribed on the tiles were symbols: a lily, arrows, an anchor and a lance, which would appear to indicate virginity and martyrdom.
Transferred to the Treasury of the Rare Collections of Christian Antiquity in the Vatican, the remains were soon forgotten by the public, especially since no record existed of a virgin martyr named Philomena. The remains were removed in 1805; a Neapolitan priest, Don Francesco di Lucia, traveling 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, Italy. Today her relics are still kept at the Santuario Santa Filomena.
Immediately upon the official donation of Saint Philomena's sacred remains, signal favors began to be granted through her intercession and unusual events to occur. The favors, graces and even miracles started to increase, even before her enshrinement at Mugnano, and they steadily grew in number thereafter — such that this virgin martyr soon earned the title, "Philomena, Powerful with God". In 1837, only 35 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 Catholicism, she became the only person recognized by the Church as a Saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession, since nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.
Saint Philomena has been successfully invoked by her supplicants in every sort of need, such that she has become another patron of "hopeless" and "impossible" cases, like Saint Jude or Saint Rita, but she is known to be especially powerful in cases involving conversion of sinners, return to the Sacraments, expectant mothers, destitute mothers, problems with children, unhappiness in the home, sterility, priests and their work, help for the sick, the missions, real estate, money problems, food for the poor and mental illness. But truly, as her devotees discovered, no case, of whatever matter, is too trivial or too unimportant to concern her.
The little town of Ars, France, has become famous through the holy life and labors of Saint Jean Vianney, its beloved Curé. And he, perhaps more than any other single individual, has brought to the world's attention the power of his own favorite among the saints, Saint Philomena. He would call upon her for every kind of favor. He used to take refuge under Saint Philomena's cloak, "and throw the blame on her", as someone has said for the extraordinary miracles he himself worked. He addressed her by the most familiar and tender names, and spared no efforts to induce others to invoke her intercession in their needs of body and soul. Often he would say in his soft penetrating voice which drew all hearts to him: "My children, Saint Philomena has great power with God, and she has, moreover, a kind heart; let us pray to her with confidence. Her virginity and generosity in embracing her heroic martyrdom have rendered her so agreeable to God that He will never refuse her anything that she asked for us." It is said that the Curé D'Ars did everything for her and Saint Philomena did everything for him.
The Curé first came to know of the wonderful power of Saint Philomena through a friend of his, Ven. Pauline Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and Living Rosary. She received in 1835 a miraculous cure of a severe heart ailment at Saint Philomena's shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy, during the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Immediately following, she appealed to Pope Gregory XVI to begin an examination for the beatification of "Filumena," daughter of light. And on Jan. 13, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI named Saint Philomena Patroness of the Living Rosary, and declared her to be the "Thaumaturga," the "Great Wonder-Worker of the nineteenth century." In a solemn decree, he raised her to the altar of the Church, granting her a special feast day (August 11) and a Mass in her honor.