The following article is an extract from the Book St. Philomena, Virgin, Martyr and Wonder-worker, by Father Goodman, M.S.C. which was published in Sydney in 1931.
The name of Saint Philomena, on whom has been conferred the glorious title of "Thaumaturga" (Wonder-Worker), is so closely allied with miracles that they themselves constitute her main history. These miracles are of recent occurrence, and many of them belong to our own day. Here we are brought face to face with supernatural happenings, and with evidence to support them in a hundred ways. There are many publications in English, and quite a number edited in foreign languages, which recount the innumerable miracles wrought by the Cord of Saint Philomena. Notable among these magazines are the "Messenger of Saint Philomena," published monthly in Paris, and "Saint Philomena's Bell," also published monthly with ecclesiastical approval, at Saint Monica's Priory, Hoddesdon, England.
The following remarkable favour is related in the "Messenger of Saint Philomena" by Sister Marie Augustine of the Blessed Sacrament, a Franciscan nun of Soignies in Belgium.
In July, 1888, my little Nephew, eight years old was attacked by caries of the bones in consequence of a fall. He had to undergo a surgical operation and Dr Debaisieux of Louvain, with the assistance of four other surgeons, sawed three of the bones of the left elbow. All went well at first, but a few days later severe pains came on, and the poor child could not move. They knew not what to do to relieve him.In the evening his aunt wound the Cord of Saint Philomena around the diseased arm. Instantly he seemed to sleep, ten minutes afterwards he was entirely free from pain and sat up in his bed without support.All were taken by surprise, and thanked the great Saint, who, moreover, did not leave her work incomplete, for the next morning the surgeons, to their surprise, found the wound nearly healed, and they allowed the child to get up and run about the garden, a thing that could not naturally have been possible until four weeks after the operation.Moreover the bones began immediately to grow again. All trace of the disease has disappeared; the child is perfectly well and regains strength visibly.
Yes, glory be to Saint Philomena, who ever interceded for us with the Immaculate Mother of God. It is needless to say that father, mother, and the two other children have taken the Cord and will never part with it.''
St. Philomena's help for Priests
The following miracle was worked in 1892 in favour of a French priest, Father N... While he was acting as temporary priest at X... a dreadful sacrilege took place in the church, and this so affected him that an illness was developed of which he already had the germs, namely, gallstones. He did not, however, become seriously ill at once, but was acting as parish priest, elsewhere, when it was arranged that he should go to St. Mary's Priory, Stamford Hill, to assist as deacon at High Mass on the feast of St. Philomena, and preach the panegyric of the saint. Two days before the feast, his illness had progressed so rapidly that a telegram arrived to say that he was at death's door, which was truly the case. He had received the Last Sacraments and made his will, three doctors who were in attendance upon him having given him up; and his sufferings were terrible. On the 17th of August, the Rev. Mother General (Sister Mary Philomena) was told, to her great astonishment, that Father N... was in the parlour. She hastened to see him and was horrified at his appearance, for he looked like a corpse, and could hardly speak or walk. She asked him why he had ventured out in that state. He said that he had heard the sisters were praying to St. Philomena for his recovery, and he had made up his mind to come there living or dying. He dragged himself to the shrine of the saint, and prayed for a short time kneeling on a priedieu. After that he said he already felt a little better and he took some nourishment which he was able to retain for the first time since his illness. After Vespers he paid another visit to the altar of St. Philomena, and this time he felt a most extraordinary sensation in his whole system, as though an iron bar was passing through him, and he immediately felt himself cured. He went for a walk in the garden and then rested and slept well for a few hours, which he had not been able to do during the last fortnight. At. 5.30 he gave Benediction and afterwards ate some supper and told Rev. Mother that all his pains had gone. In the morning he said a Votive Mass of St. Philomena at her altar, after which the sisters sang the Te Deum. He then made a vow to propagate devotion to St. Philomena, and to say a Mass in her honour once every week. The day he was cured was the Octave of her feast. The Rev. Mother had been rather disappointed that the dear saint had not cured the sick priest before her feast, and that instead of preaching in her honour he was literally dying in agonizing pains-but it was now evident that she was reserving a greater grace for him. He was so grateful for his cure that he said he almost broke down two or three times during the Mass, with joy and gratitude. The priest is now abroad exercising his ministry.
Account number two
St. Philomena takes a particular care of priests. There was Padre Guida, a Lazarist Father who came on pilgrimage to Mugnano, and saw her face lose its whiteness and flush with so healthful a tint that it seemed as though her statue was alive. He returned the next year, and was a witness of the change in its position and expression, and went back to his parish to spread devotion to her.
In the winter of 1833, he was dangerously ill, and a novena was begun to ask Philomena for his cure; but by the end of it, nothing had happened, and he took it that he was to prepare for death. He lay in a lethargy, but suddenly he felt 'a hard blow on his right arm and two lighter ones upon his head.' He opened his eyes, and saw Philomena, in a white robe embroidered with flowers, standing by his bed. "How quickly you have given up hope!" she said. "Do you expect death? No, you are not going to die; you are going to labour for God's Church. Look up and see what is prepared for you!" He looked up in the direction she indicated and saw a Bishop's mitre. Philomena had disappeared. The good priest did not know what to make of it. Was it all a dream? Or the devil? Or what? But he recovered his health, and then to his astonishment heard that he had been nominated to the See of Oria.
Cure of a dying lady
A London seaman who wrote to me from the Seamen's Home near the London Docks, said he had something very special to tell me. He mentioned that he was coming down the following day. He came as he promised and this was his story: "When my ship arrived at Cape Town I went at once to the Seamen's Home, as is the custom of all my colleagues on arriving at the different ports of call. I found there a letter from home, telling me that my wife was very seriously ill and was to undergo an operation in a London hospital. It warned me to prepare for the worst. The operation was indeed a very dangerous one. You remember I sent you a cablegram, asking you to get special prayers at the shrine for a very urgent intention. Having done so, I went straight away to the nearest church and marvellous to relate, the first thing that caught my eye was a statue of St. Philomena. I went and knelt down before her and prayed for a whole hour for my wife's recovery. I prayed with great confidence and asked the little saint not to refuse my request. I could not see a petition box at the shrine, so I wrote a little note and placed it on the ledge of the pedestal. My journey home was truly a worrying one night and day. I could not sleep throughout the entire voyage. When I arrived at the London Docks, I went straight to the hospital where my wife was and what was my joy to find her sitting up in bed and reaching out her hands smilingly to receive me. She is thank God, now out of danger, and expects to leave the hospital next week.
Devotion Dwindles but Wonders Multiply
The Kingdom of Naples, that is, at that period, the southern half of Italy, was held by the French from 1806 till 1815. "They brought in their train.....irreligion and unbelief. Quarrels, sedition and bloodshed were rife. To avoid the despotic rule of the invaders many fled into the mountain vastnesses, and infested the country as brigands, spreading desolation around. The peaceable peasants trembled in their homes and dared not go abroad. For these reasons the daily concourse to the shrine of St. Philomena dwindled considerably, though it never entirely ceased, as the upper classes continued to frequent it, although the poor could not. And on account of the times, the inhabitants of Mugnano were unable to build the grand chapel to St. Philomena which they intended to do.
Devotion was still spreading by means of little prints,-prayerbook pictures. Miracles had been worked through them, as in the case of a mother who prayed to St. Philomena for her delicate baby, and when, in spite of her prayers, it died, she would not take "No" for an answer, but took the Saint's picture from the wall and, with tears, put it on the child's body. Instantly the child not only moved but jumped up! When one of these prints was taken to the Franciscan Convent at Nola, while the nuns were admiring it, one who was blind said to Philomena: "Shall I alone lose the grace and joy of seeing you, O holy martyr?" At once she saw. And after that nothing would satisfy the nuns but that they must all be taken in a carriage to visit Mugnano. A Canon was cured of consumption, so that he might continue to us his gift for eloquent preaching. A young woman found herself quite alone when her baby was about to be born. Suddenly she found a beautiful girl beside her, who asked what she could do to help her. At the sound of her voice the baby was born. "Who are you?" "I am Philomena of Mugnano." With that she disappeared. On making inquiries the happy mother found that a saint of that name had recently come to Mugnano. With some of her relations she made a pilgrimage there. On seeing the shrine, the mother ran towards it, saying: "Yes, it was she!" Another woman, a cripple, was given a print by her relation who knew nothing about the saint except that a well-known preacher at Naples-Don Placido-had preached about her. The cripple took the print in her hands next time the pain was severe, and said: "Saint of Don Placido, I do not know your name, but do help me!" Instantly she was cured. She got up and dressed and went round to Don Placido to find out the name of the saint. At Monteleone, it was desired to put a picture of her in the church, and as a print was not good enough, the priest consulted a young man of artistic taste. He, when he had heard of Philomena, was so impressed that he wished he could paint her picture; but, alas, he had only a feeling for art, but knew nothing about painting. Secretly he got some paints and tried his hand. The brush seemed to do the work by itself, and the result was so beautiful that everyone was delighted with it. The young man declared St. Philomena had painted her own portrait. It seems that she had, for as soon as the picture was put in the church for public devotions, miracles were worked there. But the prints were the chief instrument for miracles. They came to be put up in every house, carried about in their pockets by rich and poor, and taken to people who were sick like a medicine. Let me finish with the story I like best-of the little boy of seven who died in the presence of his doctor. His mother laid a print of St. Philomena on his body, and at the touch of it he seemed to wake up from a sleep, and began to cry because, he said, he was hungry! "They gave him soup twice; he then called for wine, and fell into a gentle sleep which lasted all night, and he awoke in the morning perfectly well."
The healing of Donna Maria Emilia
Donna Maria Emilia, professed religious of the Monastery of the Croce di Lucca in Naples, daughter of one of the princes Robbordoni of Catania, had been for a long time the object of deep compassion on the part of her whole community, and of affliction on that of her family, on account of her unhappy state. For in the prime of life she had been struck down by paralysis and complete blindness, so that her life was a living death, being unable either to see, or to move, or to procure herself the smallest relief. Thus she lay motionless in her bed. On the night of the twenty-first of April, 1856, (these are her own words) I saw in a dream St. Philomena who called me by my name, "Mariuccia" I answered: "What wilt thou?" The saint replied: I have come to tell thee that Saturday is the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel" But I said "'What must I do on the occasion?" St. Philomena added: "Thine eyes are to be opened, and for such a signal grace thou shalt offer eyes of silver to the Virgin of Good Counsel, which is in the small corridor. Thou shalt say that it is a miracle" I answered. "We shall see" And the saint in her turn said to me: “Dost thou see me?" No, said I. "Be at peace," she continued "Saturday we shall meet again"
The next morning I related this dream to four of the religious. In the night of the twenty-sixth of April, the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, I awoke at half-past six and St. Philomena came at seven, took me by the arm, and said: "Mariuccia, I am Philomena, open thine eyes." And she squeezed my arm so tightly that it pained me the whole day. At the self-same hour I opened my eyes and saw. Towards seven o'clock the same evening, I said to the religious who tended me: "Sister Bonan, see, I can move my legs," and I arose from my bed without assistance and walked, in the presence of all the religious. On the twenty-eighth of the same month, at a quarter-past twelve, I spoke, but my voice was as thick as usual. After a few moments I spoke as well as before my speech was affected. As I wished to go into the choir, the Prioress took me there. We then went before the image of Our Lady of Good Counsel with the whole community, where we sang the Salve Regina; we then returned to the choir to sing the Litanies and the Te Deum, entoned by our sacristan, Sister Giuseppa Spinosa. Finally my family arrived, and, accompanied by the Prioress and the other religious, I saw them at the door. The certificate of the physician who had attended this sister is deposited in the archives of the Archbishops of Naples.
Prisioners unjustly jailed set free
In 1863, six individuals from the village of Tofina, amongst who was the Mayor or Syndic of the place, were carried off by brigands. After detaining them for a whole day, they sent home the five, unharmed, but put to death the Syndic. The magistrates of Tofina believed the other five to have been his murderers, and arrested and imprisoned them. In their prison they fervently implored St. Philomena to restore them to liberty, and on March 14th, 1865, they were set free without undergoing any trial.
The healing of Deafness
A religious writes:- " I cannot pass over in silence a miracle that I witnessed last year. A servant of this establishment had been deaf for eighteen years; so deaf that you could not make her hear without screaming with all your might. She was advised to make a novena to St. Philomena, and to put into her ears some cotton that had touched her sacred relics. The last day of the novena, while she was in the wash-house, she said to herself: 'This is the last day of my novena, let us see whether St. Philomena is going to cure me.' Suddenly she felt a sort of cracking in her head, but was not aware of the miracle that had been worked in her favour.
She entered the linen-room where she usually worked, and was surprised to hear people talking. She heard also the sewing-machine, 'what a noise you are making to day,' she said to her companions. They looked at one another, and said in a low voice: 'We are not making more noise than usual. Why does she say that?' They thought she could not hear them, but she replied: 'Oh yes, you make a great deal of noise.' They then exclaimed, 'She can hear! Euvertine hears!' and ever since she has heard quite well.
The healing of serious injuries
In 1847 a poor woman was run over by a heavy cart and had her foot crushed and her thigh broken. She was taken to the hospital where the surgeon declared that amputation was necessary. During the night her sufferings were intense, and she was unable to snatch a moment's sleep. In the midst of her torture the holy Martyr appeared to her, and taking her feet between her hands pressed them so tightly that she screamed out with the pain this caused. Those in the neighbouring beds were awakened and tried to soothe her, thinking that she was delirious from fever; but she explained to them the true cause of her cries. The next morning the surgeon found the limb so much better that he put off the amputation. The following night the holy Martyr again appeared to her as before. The third night the Saint completed her work by performing an operation herself. She took the limb into her hands, extracted several pieces of crushed bone, and bandaged it with all the talent of a man of science. In the morning the surgeon was violently indignant, thinking that they had insulted him by sending for another surgeon to perform the operation, and roundly reproached the patient, threatening to write to her master and complain of her. "But," said the good woman, "you are quite mistaken; my heavenly healer, my consoler, is no other than the dear St. Philomena." At these words the doctor exclaimed: "How great is God in His Saints!" The recipient of this remarkable favour is not content with going once to Mugnano to render thanks to her benefactress, but she visits the sanctuary every year in company with several friends who come to sing with her the praises of the Thaumaturga.
The healing of a nun who was close to death
In March 1852 Donna Maria Scolastica, Camaldolese Religious of Sant' Antonio at Rome having broken an internal blood-vessel, was beyond reach of medical treatment, and her death was certain. She had received the last Sacraments when Signor Gian-Battista Chiocca brought her a relic of St. Philomena which had been given him by Mgr. Stella, private secretary of His Holiness Pius IX., who was remarkably devoted to the holy Martyr, and had been cured by her while he was Canon of Imola. At the approach of the relic, the Religious prayed fervently to the Saint, promising to send to Mugnano two bouquets of artificial flowers, and she was instantaneously healed.
Saint Philomena's Crown (Chaplet)
On the Crucifix say: The Apostles' Creed to ask for the grace of Faith. (On some forms of the chaplet there is no Crucifix - in this case the Apostles' Creed is said on the medal). On each of the following three beads say an Our Father in honour of the Blessed Trinity and in thanksgiving for all the graces bestowed upon Saint Philomena and in thanksgiving for all favours received through her intercession. On each of thirteen beads (13 in number to commemorate the 13 years that Saint Philomena spent on earth) Say: "Hail O holy Saint Philomena, whom I acknowledge, after Mary, as my advocate with the Divine Spouse, intercede for me now and at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen. On the chaplet's medal you say: "Hail, O, illustrious Saint Philomena, who so courageously shed your blood for Christ. I bless the Lord for all the graces, He has bestowed upon thee, during thy life, and especially at thy death; I praise and glorify Him for the honour and power with which He has crowned thee, and I beg thee to obtain for me from God the graces I ask through thy intercession. Amen."
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