Saint of the Day: St Philomena
Virgin and Martyr
St. Philomena was the daughter of the king of a small Grecian state and her mother was also of royal lineage. They were pagans who worshipped false gods. They had no children and prayed to these idols for a child.
There was staying with them at the time a doctor from Rome, Publius, who was a Catholic and now a Saint. He was touched by their “blindness” and inspired by the Holy Ghost, decided to speak to them about their false worship and tell them of the one true Catholic Faith.
He assured them that their prayers would be heard if they embraced Catholicity. His fervent eloquence reached them, and aided by grace, they were finally Baptised.
St. Philomena was born the following year on January 10th, and was named Lumena, or “Light,” as she had been born in the light of the Faith, to which her parents were not most devoted. When she herself was Baptised they added to her name, to make Philomena, that is “Friend or Lover of the Light.”
Her parents lavished every affection on her and she accompanied them to Rome in her 13th year, to plead for peace from war with the Emperor. The Emperor, while listening to the pleas of her father, kept looking at Philomena; he agreed to terms of peace, but only if Philomena would be his wife.
Her parents agreed to the request, but Philomena rejected the offer as she had already made a vow to Jesus Christ two years prior, a permanent vow of chastity.
Her father tried to change her mind, but seeing her resolution, implored her more to agree to the marriage. The Emperor also renewed his intentions and while they were in Rome, he daily came to see her.
Imprisonment and Consolation
Finally in a fit of fury, he had her chained in a dungeon. All through this ordeal her Divine Spouse supported her, as well as His Blessed Mother. This torment lasted for 37 days, when the Queen of Heaven appeared to the Saint, surrounded by a dazzling light, bearing her Divine Son in her arms, telling Philomena that she would be in the dungeon for three more days, saying she would leave on the 40th day of her sorrow, only to undergo a most cruel torture for the love of Jesus Christ, her Son.
Blessed Virgin Mary
The Holy Virgin inspired her with courage and told her that she was so beloved by them both, not the least of which reasons why was that she bore the name of them both, Light, as the Sun for Christ, and the Moon for Mary.
Our Lady promised the Saint that at the time of her martyrdom she would the Archangel Gabriel himself by her side as her protector against weakness.
She was bound to a pillar, and like Christ before her, she was savagely scourged.
Seeing that she was one gaping, agonising wound, the Emperor had her brought back to the prison to die. Two bright Angels appeared and poured Heavenly balm on her wounds and she was cured.
The Emperor was astonished. Because she still refused his blandishments, he was enraged and gave orders than an iron anchor should be attached to her neck and that she be thrown into the Tiber to drown.
But Christ, once more to confound the tyrant, sent two more Angels to cut the cord of the anchor which fell to the bottom of the river and became embedded in the mud. Then the Angels brought her back to the bank without a single drop of water touching her garments. Several bystanders were converted.
But Diocletian became more obstinate than ever, declared her a witch and ordered her pierced with arrows. Again Heaven saved her from the death planned for her.
On hearing of this new miracle, the Emperor was so infuriated that he ordered the torture to be repeated until death came, but the arrows refused to leave the bow. So he had the arrows heated with flames from a furnace; again it was to no avail, for these last archers were slain by Heaven.
More conversions occurred and the people began to show serious signs of disaffection towards the Emperor and even reverence for the Holy Faith. She was beheaded at last and ascended to glory in Heaven.
Reflection: Let us, like Saint Philomena, obtain that purity of spirit and of heart that leads to perfect love of God.
Two Books on St Philomena