St Philomena’s Bell
When the largest bell of the church broke, and money had been collected for a new one, it was decided to impress a figure of St Philomena on the new one. The bell was cast and the metal left to cool; and then, to the universal dismay the metal was found not to have filled the mould completely, so that no handle had been formed at the top. Those who knew St Philomena went to her shrine and said, tout court: "Philomena, what were you thinking of ? What about your honour as a virgin-martyr ? Wasn't your picture on the bell? What will be said of you ?”
All the bell-founders thought about was the public fury. You will remember that Neapolitans are explosive! They took themselves off to an inn, and hid there for the rest of the day, deciding to go away under cover of night. They prayed for themselves fervently to Our Lady of Grace and St. Philomena, for they expected every footfall to herald their denouncer, who would be followed by a furious mob. At ten o'clock that night when everything was silent and they were just deciding that it was safe to slip off, pebbles were thrown at their window. This could only mean one thing: that the cover of darkness was to be used also by their furious employers, the villagers, to settle the score! They were stiff with fright. Again the pebbles rattled on the window, and they recommended their souls, to heaven, to kind heaven, who knew it had only been a mistake! But at that moment, the foreman heard an interior voice say:
"Go and see; the grace is granted; the bell is finished." And as no other sound followed the rattle of pebbles, he began to dare to believe, that it was only Philomena, for he had heard of her ways. Leaving his terror-stricken assistants, he crept out of the house and made his way to the foundry. There was the bell, not only complete but with a mass of metal left over. He could not believe his eyes, but at last he burst into cries of joy, and ran, shouting through the, streets, to fetch his companions. When they saw it, they shouted too, and the whole of Mugnano, put their heads out of windows to know what in the world the noise was about; and when they heard, they had to come down to see the wonder, and nobody wanted to sleep that night, but spent it thanking God and Our Lady and St. Philomena. The metal that remained was taken in procession to the church and hung up there, a perpetual token of what had happened though it may look a very odd decoration.