Little is known about the life of St. Philomena. However, it is believed she was a Greek princess who became a virgin martyr and died at 13-years-old. Remains of a young lady were discovered in May 1802 at the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria Nova with three tiles reading “Peace be to you, Philomena.”
All that is known about St. Philomena’s life comes from a Neapolitan nun’s vision. Sister Maria Luisa di Gesu claims St. Philomena came to her and told her she was the daughter of a Greek king who converted to Christianity. When Philomena was 13-years-old, she took a vow of consecrated virginity.
After her father took his family to Rome to make peace, Emperor Diocletian fell in love with Philomena. When she refused to marry him, she was subjected to torture.
St. Philomena was scourged, drowned with an anchor attached to her, and shot with arrows. Each time she was attacked angels took to her side and healed her through prayer.
Finally, the Emperor had Philomena decapitated. According to the story, her death came on a Friday at three in the afternoon, the same as Jesus.
Two anchors, three arrows, a palm symbol of martyrdom, and a flower were found on the tiles in her tomb, interpreted as symbols of her martyrdom.
Devotion for Philomena began to spread once her bones were exhumed and miracles began to occur. Canon Francesco De Lucia of Mugnano del Cardinale received relics of St. Philomena and had them placed in the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Mugnano, Italy.
Soon after her relics were enshrined, cancers were cured, wounds were healed and the Miracle of Mugnano, when Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured of a severe heart issue overnight, were all attributed to St. Philomena.
Other Saints began to venerate Philomena and attributing miracles in their lives to the young martyr, including St. John Marie Vianney and St. Peter Louis Marie Chanel.
THE CORD OF ST. PHILOMENA
Of the several forms which devotion to St. Philomena has taken, perhaps the one that is best known and most used is that of her Cord.
The use of her Cord has been from the beginning a favorite way of honoring the saint and invoking her protection.
The holy Cure of Ars himself blessed and distributed a great many.
The cord is white and red, and may be made either of linen, woolen, or cotton threads, so interwoven as to give an almost equal preponderance to both colors; it has two knots at one end.
The white color represents virginity; the red, martyrdom.
The cord has been approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and is enriched with indulgences.
The formula of blessing is found in the Roman Ritual, and the needful faculties may be obtained from the Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, 3 Square Leon— Guillot, Paris 15, France.
It is usually worn under the outer garment as a girdle.
No ceremony is required in conferring it, but it should be blessed.
When replacing a worn Cord with a new one, this too, should be blessed.
Wearers of the Cord ought to have the intention of honoring St. Philomena to the best of their ability in order to merit protection against evils of soul and body, and to obtain through her prayers perfect chastity and the spirit of faith.
Every priest has the faculty to bless the Cord of St. Philomena according to the formula in the Roman Ritual.
Many faithful followers of St. Philomena prefer to have the cord blessed in churches where a special devotion to St. Philomena is observed and have it blessed after it has touched a relic of the saint. When the cord is worn out and replaced the new cord should also be blessed.
It is also recommended that the following prayer be said daily:
“Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us that through thy powerful intercession we may obtain that purity of mind and heart which leads to the perfect love of God. Amen.”
The pious practice, born spontaneously amongst the Saint’s devotees, was approved by the Congregation of Rites on September 15, 1883. Later, on April 4,1884, Leo XIII enriched it with precious indulgences. It consists in carrying, tied around the body, a cord of wool, linen or cotton, colored white and red to indicate the virginity and martyrdom of Saint Philomena. The devotion is very widely practiced, especially outside Italy, to obtain spiritual and corporal graces.
PLENARY INDULGENCES OF THE CORD OF ST. PHILOMENA
1. On the day on which the cord is worn for the first time.
2. On the 25th of May, the anniversary of the opening of St. Philomena’s tomb in the Catacombs of Saint Priscilla.
3. On August 11, her proper Feast.
4. On December 15, the anniversary of the approbation of the cord by the Holy See.
5. At the moment of death, under the ordinary conditions.
With the exception of the last, it is necessary for gaining the above indulgences to go to confession, receive Holy Communion, make a visit to some church and there pray for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff.
The Cord of Saint Philomena has been the instrument of innumerable favors. It is used by the sick, and is a protection against accidents and evils of every kind.
“St Philomena, to whom God refuses nothing”
– ST JOHN VIANNEY
“Pray to Saint Philomena. Whatever you ask from her, she will obtain for you.“
– POPE GREGORY XVI
St Philomena, Patron Saint of infants, babies and young people.
St Philomena, Powerful with God
St Philomena, to whom God refuses nothing
Pray for us!
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE FINDS ON ST. PHILOMENA