Devotion of the Popes to St Philomena

Somewhat late in the day but today, still the 10th January, is, according to tradition, the day we celebrate the birthday of early Christian virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena. 

From Sensus Fidelium

At the beginning of the 19th century, St. Philomena was utterly unknown in the Church and to the world. No mention of her name or Martyrdom had been handed down in tradition, nor do we find any trace in the historical records of the Martyrs. yet, before the century closed, her name resounded throughout Christendom. Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, and many others of rank flocked among the crowds that came to Mugnano to pray for her intercession.

A most significant feature of Saint Philomena’s renown is the remarkable devotion that the Popes have shown to the little Wonder Worker. Since the finding of her relics, Pope after Pope has shown her public honor and fostered a personal devotion to her. It is indeed remarkable that the highest eulogies of the saint have come from the Sovereign Pontiffs. Pope Leo XII (1823-1829), who preceded Pope Gregory XVI in the Pontifical Chair, expressed the greatest admiration for this unknown child-saint, and gladly gave his permission for the erection of altars and churches in her honor.

Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), who authorized her public veneration, showed his esteem and devotion to the saint by giving her the title of Patroness of the Living Rosary, and donating a magnificent gold and silver lamp to her sanctuary.

Of all the Popes, however, Pope Pius IX cultivated the most special devotion to the Virgin Martyr. As Archbishop of Spoleto, he was one of her devout clients and did much to spread her veneration. Later in life, when Archbishop of Imola, he fell very ill and his cure was attributed to Saint Philomena’s intercession. When raised to the throne of St. Peter, this Pope availed himself of his power to bestow still greater luster on the saint at Mugnano, where he offered Holy Mass on the altar of the saint, and afterwards publicly venerated her relics. In 1849, he named her Patroness of the Children of Mary.

Leo XIII imitated his predecessor in the honor shown Saint Philomena during his pontificate. Before his election to the papacy he made two pilgrimages to her shrine. After he became the Vicar of Christ, he gave a valuable cross to the sanctuary. He approved the Confraternity of Saint Philomena, and enriched it with indulgences. Furthermore, he raised it to an Archconfraternity.

No less devoted to the little saint was our beloved St. Pius X. Costly gifts, among them the magnificent gold ring already mentioned, were given by him to her shrine. He often spoke warmly of her and manifested his devotion to her in various ways. Pope Saint Pius X raised the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena to a Universal Archconfraternity and named St. John Vianney its Patron. This Pope and great Saint of Holy Mother the Church solemnly declared:

“. . . to discredit the present decisions and declarations concerning Saint Philomena as not being permanent, stable, valid and effective, necessary of obedience, and in full effect for all eternity, proceeds from an element that is null and void and without merit or authority.” [1912]

Saint Philomena Prayer

Hail, O innocent Philomena, who, for love of Jesus, preserved the lily of thy virginity in all its brightness. Hail, O illustrious Philomena, who shed thy blood so courageously for Jesus Christ.

I bless the Lord for all the graces He granted thee during thy lifetime, and most especially at the hour of thy death. I praise Him and glorify Him for the honor and power with which He has crowned thee, and I beseech thee to obtain for me from God the graces I request through thy intercession.

Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Amen.

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2 Responses to Devotion of the Popes to St Philomena

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Great story. Most priests on Sensus Fidelium give such wonderful, informed, studied sermons! We need every one of our parishes with one of them!!

  2. Toad says:

    ”Costly gifts, among them the magnificent gold ring already mentioned,..”
    No it isn’t.

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