Saint Philomena

Saint Philomena is the patron saint of infants, babies, and youth. She is also known as “The Wonderworker”.

There is not a lot known about St. Philomena other than she was a Greek princess who died at the young age of 13 years old. It was said that she became a virgin martyr. In May 1802, her remains were unearthed in the Catacombs of Priscilla along Via Salaria Nova, marked by three tiles inscribed with the words “Pax Tecum Filumena” or “Peace be to you, Philomena”. The symbols discovered on the tiles within her tomb, including two anchors, three arrows, a palm, and an ivy leaf, were interpreted as emblems signifying her martyrdom.

According to a nun named Sister Maria Luisa di Gesù (1799–1875), Philomena came to her in a vision and told her how she was the daughter of a Greek king who converted to Christianity.

Roman Emperor made a threat of war towards the Greek King, who in turn set of with Philomena to try and make peace with Diocletian. When Diocletian saw Philomena, he fell in love with her instantly and wanted her as his wife.

But Philomena made a vow of virginity aged 13, and refused the advances of the Roman Emperor Diocletian because of her commitment to God. Diocletian was not happy with this and subjected her to a series of torments, including being thrashed, thrown into the Tiber River with an anchor tied around her neck and shot with arrows.

Miraculously, she survived through divine intervention from angels who healed her wounds and cut her free from the anchor. She was eventually beheaded by the order of the Emperor.

The story of Philomena also states that her death happened on the same day as Jesus’ crucifixion.

Removal as a Saint

In 1961, Saint Philomena’s feast day was removed from the General Roman Calendar by Pope John XXIII, due to questions about the historical veracity of her legend and to quieten down superstition. Despite this, she continues to be a popular saint among the faithful, known as the patroness of infants, babies, and youth, and invoked for various causes, including help for the sick, for students, and for the conversion of sinners.

Saint Philomena Facts

Bornc. 10 January 291, Greece
Diedc. August 10, 304, Rome, Italy (aged 13)
Cause of DeathCapital punishment by decapitation
Canonized30 January 1837, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Papal State by Pope Gregory XVI
Feast dayAugust 11
AttributesMartyr’s palm, crown of both white and red roses, arrows, anchor, sometimes a partially slit throat

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