When we think of saints, the first ones that come to mind are usually St. Francis of Assisi, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Anthony of Padua. There are countless other holy men and women who have lived inspiring lives and performed incredible feats. Among them is St. Philomena, a Christian martyr that many people aren't familiar with.
Despite never being officially canonized by the Catholic Church, St. Philomena is widely loved and venerated by many who believe in her miraculous powers. Here are five important things to know about her that might convince you to join their ranks.
She was never actually canonized
As mentioned, St. Philomena was never officially recognized as a saint by the Church. This is not because her life was unworthy of sainthood, but for historical reasons. When her tomb was discovered in the 19th century, her story and the miracles attributed to her gained popularity, leading to a cult-like following. However, the validity of her hagiography (her life's story) was questioned by the Church, and she was removed from the liturgical calendar in the 1960s. Nevertheless, her devotees still pray for her intercession and believe in her power to heal the sick and perform miracles.
She was discovered in the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salary Nova
St. Philomena's remains were discovered in the famous catacombs of Rome in the 19th century. She was found in a tomb alongside two vials of her blood, which were taken as a sign of her martyrdom. It's believed that she was killed during Emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians in the 4th century. Her exact origins and family are not known, but it's believed that she was a princess from Greece.
Many saints were devoted to St. Philomena
St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, was a fervent devotee of St. Philomena and attributed many miracles to her intercession. He credited her for helping him overcome his fear of the devil and for healing countless sick people. Other saints that were devoted to her include St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and St. Francis Xavier Cabrini.
Many miracles are attributed to her devotion
St. Philomena is known for miracles, her powers of healing and for answering prayers for difficult situations. There are many documented cases of people being cured of illnesses and other afflictions after praying to her. She's sometimes called "Wonder-Worker" because of the many incredible things that have happened to her believers. Her devotees also attribute to her the conversion of nonbelievers and even the protection from natural disasters like earthquakes.
Patron saint of infants, babies, and youth.
St. Philomena is commonly depicted in art holding a palm of martyrdom, arrows, or an anchor, which symbolize her faith and strength. She's also often shown wearing a crown of flowers, which represents her purity and innocence. She's the patron saint of infants, babies, and youth, making her a popular saint to pray to for parents and anyone who works with children.
While St. Philomena might not have been officially canonized by the Church, her enduring popularity among Catholics is a testament to the power of belief. She's a powerful intercessor that people turn to in times of need, and her story is a reminder of the strength and faith that can come from martyrdom.