A painting of the Martyrdom of the Saint, which is at the church of Notre Dame in Plourin-les-Morlaix, at Bretagne, France.

St. Philomena story

"My dear Sister," the Saint revealed to her, "I was the daughter of the king of a small Grecian state. My mother too was of royal blood. As they had no children, my parents continually offered sacrifices and prayers to their false gods to obtain the blessing of a child. There was at that time with our family a Roman doctor named Publius, now a Saint in Heaven, though he did not suffer martyrdom. Touched by their blindness and moved by their sorrow, he was inspired by the Holy Ghost to speak to them of our faith and assured them that their prayers would be heard if they embraced the Christian Religion. His fervid eloquence touched their hearts, and their minds were at the same time enlightened by divine grace. After mature deliberation, they finally received the holy Sacrament of Baptism.


I was born at the beginning of the following year, on January 10th, and was called 'Lumena' or 'Light,' as I had been born in the light of the Faith, to which my parents were now ardently devoted. They gave me the name of 'Philomena' at Baptism, that is, 'Friend of the Light' which illumined my soul by the grace of this Sacrament. Divine Providence permitted that the epitaph on my sarcophagus should be explained in this very sense, though the interpreters were not aware that it was the exact thought in the minds of those who had originally written it.


"My parents lavished every affection on me, and my father could not bear to have me out of his sight. For this reason, I accompanied them to Rome at the close of my thirteenth year. This journey was undertaken in consequence of the declaration of war unjustly made on us by the proud and powerful Roman Emperor. Realizing his weakness, my poor father started for Rome in the hopes of making peace with the Emperor. My mother and myself went with him and were present at the audience he had with the tyrant.


"How wonderful is destiny! Who should have guessed mine? While my father earnestly pleaded his cause and sought to justify himself, the Emperor kept glancing at me and replied: 'Do not trouble yourself further; you may be perfectly at rest; there is no cause for anxiety. Instead of attacking you, I will place the forces of the Empire at your disposal on condition that you give me the hand of your fair daughter Philomena in marriage.' My parents agreed to his request, and on our return home sought to convince me that I should be, indeed, happy as Empress of Rome. I rejected the offer without a moment's hesitation and told them that I had made myself the spouse of Jesus Christ by a vow of chastity when I was eleven years old.


"My father then endeavoured to prove that a child of my age could not dispose of herself as she pleased and exerted all his authority to force me to obey. My Divine Spouse, however, gave me the necessary strength to stand by my resolution.


"When the Emperor was acquainted with my answer, he regarded it merely as a pretext for breaking faith with him. 'Bring the Princess Philomena here ' 'he said to my father, 'and I will see if I cannot persuade her.'


"My father came for me, but seeing that my resolution was unshaken, both he and my mother, casting themselves at my feet, implored me to change my mind. 'O daughter!' they exclaimed, 'Have pity on your parents! Have pity on your country! Have pity on our Kingdom!' I answered that my virginity must take precedence of all else.

St. Philomena
Text Box: The National Centre 
for the Archconfraternity 
Of  St Philomena Rochester

Moreover, they tally admirably with what we know of the Saint, being perfectly in keeping with the writing and symbols that were found on the sarcophagus.


Lastly, the revelations have been frequently published and the book containing them received the Imprimatur of the Holy Office on December 2I, I833. This does not imply that the Holy See guarantees the authenticity of the revelations ‑that it rarely does in the case of private revelations‑but it shows that we are within our right in accepting them on their own merits and that the Church finds nothing in them worthy of censure.


As our readers will doubtless be anxious to know all that there is to be known concerning our Saint, we shall quote one of the three revelations, namely, that made to Mother Mary Louisa, Superior General of the Congregation of the Dolours of Mary, who died in the odor of sanctity in the year I875.

Despite many learned investigations, nothing has been discovered to throw light on the personal history of St. Philomena previous to the finding of her relics in the Catacombs. Some of her ardent clients, however, emboldened by the sweet graciousness with which the dear Little Saint is accustomed to hear the prayers of her servants, besought her earnestly to make known to them who she was and what she suffered for Jesus Christ. Their prayers were heard, and the Saint revealed to three different people, living far apart and utterly unknown to each other, the story of her life and the details of her martyrdom.


These revelations, though of a private character, are nevertheless striking and carry with them no small weight of human probability. The fact that they were made to three persons, that these were unknown to each other, and yet that the revelations were identical, is, to say the least of it, a very extraordinary coincidence.

"Nevertheless, we had to obey the Emperor and present ourselves at the Palace. At first he used promises and blandishments of all kinds to induce me to accept marriage, but all in vain. He then had recourse to threats, but with no better result. At last, in a fit of fury, inspired by the demon of impurity, he ordered me to be thrown into a dungeon beneath the Imperial Palace. Here I was bound hand and foot and loaded with chains in the hope of compelling me to agree to marry this man in whose soul the spirit of evil alone held sway.


"Daily, the Emperor came in person to renew his attentions. He had the irons removed so that I could take a little bread and water, but seeing that his efforts were in vain, he would renew my torments. All this time, my Divine Spouse supported me. I recommended myself unceasingly to Jesus and to His Blessed Mother.


"These scenes had lasted for thirty-seven days when the Queen of Heaven appeared to me surrounded by a dazzling light and bearing her Divine Son in her arms. 'My child,' she said, 'you will remain three more days in this dungeon and then, on the fortieth day of your imprisonment, you will leave this place of sorrow.'

"On hearing these words of comfort, my heart beat for joy.


"When leaving it,' continued the Blessed Mother of God, 'you will undergo cruel torture for the love of my Son.'


"These new tidings filled me with fear, and I felt as it were all the bitter agony of dying.


"Courage, beloved daughter,' added the Queen of Heaven, 'beloved above all others, for you bear my name and the name of my Son. You are called Lumena or Light. My Son, your Spouse, is called Light, Star, Sun. And am I not likewise called Dawn, Star, Moon, Sun? I will be your support. Now is the hour of human weakness and humiliation, but when the moment of trial arrives, you will receive strength and grace. Besides your Angel Guardian, you will have at your side the Archangel Gabriel, whose name signifies, 'The strength of the Lord.' When I was on earth he was my protector. I will now send him to her who is my beloved daughter.' These reassuring words restored my courage, and when the vision disappeared, a refreshing perfume remained in the dungeon.

The Emperor, despairing of inducing me to accede to his desires, had recourse to torture in order to terrify me and induce me to break my vow to Heaven. He ordered me to be tied to a pillar and scourged mercilessly, to the accompaniment of horrible blasphemies.


Since he is so obstinate as to prefer a malefactor condemned to death by his own countrymen to an emperor like me, 'he said, 'she deserves condign [fitting] punishment.'


"The tyrant, seeing that though I was one gaping wound, my determination was unaltered, ordered me to be

brought back to prison to die in agony. I was looking forward to death to fly to the bosom of my Spouse when two bright angels appeared and poured a heavenly balm on my wounds. I was cured. The following morning the Emperor was astounded on hearing the news. Seeing me stronger and more beautiful than ever, he endeavored to persuade me that I owed this favor to Jupiter, who destined me for the imperial diadem.

"The Holy Ghost inspiring me, I rejected his sophistry and resisted his caresses. Mad with rage, he gave orders that an iron anchor should be attached to my neck and that I should be thrown into the Tiber. But Jesus, to show His power and confound the false gods, once more sent His two angels to help me. They cut the cord, and the anchor fell to the bottom of the river, where it remained embedded in the mud. They then brought me back to the bank without a single drop of water having touched my garments.


"This miracle converted several of the bystanders.


Diocletian, more obstinately blind than Pharaoh, now declared that I must be a witch and ordered me to be pierced with arrows. Mortally wounded and on the point of death, I was once more cast into prison. Instead of death, which should naturally have been mine, the Almighty sent a peaceful sleep, after which I awoke more beautiful than before. On hearing of this new miracle, the Emperor was so infuriated that he ordered the torture to be repeated until death should supervene, but the arrows refused to leave the bows. Diocletian insisted that this was the result of magic, and hoping that witchcraft would be unavailing against fire, he gave orders that the arrows should be heated red-hot in a fiery furnace.

This precaution was of no avail. My Divine Spouse saved me from the torture by turning the arrows back on the archers, six of whom were killed. This last miracle brought about other conversions, and the people began to show serious signs of disaffection towards the Emperor and even reverence for our Holy Faith.

Fearing more serious consequences, the tyrant now ordered me to be beheaded.



My soul, glorious and triumphant, ascended into Heaven, there to receive the crown of virginity which I had merited by so many victories. It was three o'clock in the afternoon of the 10th of August, which was a Friday.



"Behold the reasons why Our Lord willed that my body should be brought back to Mugnano on August 10th and why He worked such miracles on that occasion"

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