If you receive a favour from St. Philomena the Wonder Worker please e-mail me at email@example.com and tell me about it. If you give me the necessary permission I may be able to publish it for you in a St. Philomena devotional newsletter which is published here in Australia.
ST. PHILOMENA'S PROTECTION IN DESPERATE CASES
In Avellino, in 1831, three criminals were condemned to be hung by the Special High Court, which admits of no appeal. They were at once conveyed to the chapel to prepare for death. One of them, Pellegrino by name, had been brought up by an aunt who loved him tenderly. In this desperate state of affairs, she with some other pious persons had recourse to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in a neighbouring church; and then they stopped, praying, weeping, and lamenting before a new statue of St. Philomena, which had been placed in a beautiful marble chapel only the day before.
The bells of the church were rung to assemble the people for the singing of the Litanies; and with fervent faith St. Philomena was implored to obtain by her merits and intercession with our Blessed Lady and her Divine Son, the deliverance of Pellegrino from the gallows. There were not wanting those who said that this should have been done sooner, while or before the case was pending, in order to influence the decision of the judge; this was indeed the common sentiment of all.
"How," said they, "will this miraculous saint come down from heaven, take him by the hairs of his head, and drag him out of the chapel?" The aunt alone, with that constant and simple faith which is above reason, continued to weep and implore his deliverance. In the meantime she heard an interior voice say to her: "Go, start for Naples, go to the feet of the king, and thou wilt have the grace". This poor uneducated woman had never heard of interior voices, and paid therefore no attention to it. She continued to weep and pray, but the interior prompting continued also.
At length she became convinced that this must be an inspiration of the saint, whom she understood to say that she herself would go to Naples before her and make all prosper. Being unable to resist any longer, she resolved to set out that very night, and she hired a good carriage, as it was thirty miles off. On her way, she passed a large church dedicated to St. Philomena, and before all the people who were there, she cried out as she passed: "O St. Philomena! keep thy word, and go to Naples before me!"
She arrived late at night, and getting a good lawyer to draw up a petition for her, she was told no audience of the king could be had that day; but, after overcoming many apparently insurmountable obstacles, she succeeded in obtaining one for the next afternoon. The king, who was very merciful, promised to grant her supplication, although it was not his custom to reverse the sentence of the High Courts, without some very special reason, which was entirely wanting in this case.
Owing, however, to his numerous occupations, His Majesty forgot all about it until four o'clock the next afternoon. There was then hardly more than an hour of life remaining, and a great many formalities had to be gone through, the place of executing was five hours distant by post, and death was imminent. The king then bethought himself of the Semaphore, though it was never employed in such cases, and, dispensing with all forms and customs of documents, going through secretaries, &c., he gave the order verbally, and it was passed to the telegraph office.
In Avellino the sentence was just about to be put in force, and the criminals were on their way to the gallows, when the first words of the king arrived, which merely said: "Let it be suspended." The telegraph official felt impelled, contrary to all rule, to supplement the rest of the message, and flew to suspend the execution. While they were deliberating what the message meant, a second arrived stating that Pellegrino alone was pardoned. St. Philomena had not been invoked for the other two criminals, and in granting the pardon, the king who had lost the petition, could only remember his name, and not theirs, although their pardon also had been asked for, and he had intended to grant it. Moreover Pellegrino himself had prayed to the holy martyr, who had appeared to him in a dream, and said to him: "Fear not, be joyful, even when thou art near the gallows, I will snatch thee out of the hands of the soldiers". Hence he kept repeating the promise of the saint all that last day, and when at the foot of the fatal ladder, he received the news of his pardon, he fainted away for joy.
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