For many Saints, the veneration of the faithful finds important foundation in the edifying events of their earthly life. For Saint Philomena, things were different, since there were no records about her short life until her martyrdom in the prime of her life. Therefore, Saint Philomena has ascended to the glory of the Altars not for what we concretely know about her brief earthly existence, but for the countless graces and miracles that God has lavished through her powerful intercession. Because she lived her life focusing on the love of Christ, she became very dear to God’s divine heart. What is missing in the veneration of Saint Philomena, regarding historic records, is abundantly compensated for by the richness and multiplicity of the miracles she performed thanks to her intercession from the day of the translation of her bones from Rome to Mugnano. Rightly, Pope Gregory XVI defined her as the “Thaumaturge of the XIX century”.
Everyone who gets close to her with faith is helped in body and soul. For example, the miracles performed by the Saint in Ars were so many that the pious parish priest John Marie Vianney had to pray that these would diminish in order not to be distracted from the caring of souls.
From the many miracles performed, we have chosen just a few of them which we will divide in two groups. In the first we will place the healings, and although reported by people worthy of trust, these can give rise to some uncertainty for lack of documentation. In the second group we will place the extraordinary, and at the same time, widely corroborated by official acts and authoritative recognitions.
Miracles certified in published works on the Saint’s life, but of which the direct corroboration is unknown.
a – Healing of an ulcer on the hand which turned into cancer of a Neapolitan woman , while the body of Saint Philomena was in Naples in the house of Antonio Terres.
In Naples, a noble woman had been sorely tried by her body; a hand ulcer had turned into cancer. Amputation was urgently required. All preparations had been carried out for the operation. By the evening, the pius woman, recalling that the early Christians would place on the affected part of the body some kind of relic of a Martyr to heal it, she applied on her horrible sore a small particle of Saint Philomena’s relics. The next morning the surgeon, uncovering with caution the patient’s hand, realized with wonder that the ulcer was no longer there. The hand was rosy and healthy like a baby’s. A verbal process of this healing was written down by the public notary Antonio Montuori.
b – Healing of a crippled boy, eight days after the translation of 1805.
This is how this miracle is described by Msgr. Gennaro Ippolito, Rector of the Sanctuary.”In the last of the eight days during the celebration of the Solemn Mass, at the moment the Sacred Host was raised, suddenly beside the widow Angela Guerriero, from the village of Mercogliano, and her only son, Modestino of about ten years of age crippled in such a way, that he could not even stand, stood up. His mother had brought him to the church with the hope of having him healed. The mother, watching him walking quickly to reach the urn, full of joy, began shouting miracle! miracle! All the people who knew the boy and his inability to walk repeated the same words. Then the boy was taken all around the village, walking and acclaiming by himself. A crowd of incredulous people were following him.”
c – Healing of a blind girl
It’s once again Ippolito reporting this; In the vespers of the same day, the eighth day after the translation of 1805, the size of the crowd that attended was incredible, the majority not being able to enter the church, was forced to stay outside. During the preaching of Fr. Antonio Vetrani, Missionary of the Congregation of St. Peter in Cesarano in the Mugnano area, a woman from Avella was allowed into the church with her little girl of about two years, blind because of smallpox and considered incurable by the main doctors of Naples.
As soon as that mother was close to the sacred urn, she applied the oil from the lamp on her girl’s eyes who, in that instant, recovered her eyesight (fig. 9).
Both mother and daughter started to shout, the daughter with happiness, the mother with faith; Instantly, inside and outside the Church the news of the miracle began to spread, and the crowd where in turmoil with curiosity! There was a man present who had the reputation of a non believer. Struck by the marvel he had witnessed, he offered spontaneously to help financially with the erection of the chapel that for some time had been planned to be built for the Saint’s cult. Here, we have two miracles, the opening of the eyes of an innocent girl, and the opening of the eyes of the soul in a sinner”.
d – Healing of the canonical Msgr. Don Joseph Stella, assistant of the Archbishop of Imola, Msgr. Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, later Pius IX.
It is once again the Rector of the Sanctuary, Fr. Gennaro Ippolito, who describes this; The Canonical Msgr. Don Joseph Stella, assistant of the Archbishop of Imola Msgr. Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti (today gloriously reigning Highest Pontiff Pius IX), great devotee of Saint Philomena and propagator of her cult in that city in the year 1834 was ready to close his eyes for the last time and to meet his maker, when looking at a picture of the saint that he had near his bed, he sincerely invoked her. The Divine Protectress with a particular sign informed him that she was donating him full recovery. Healed, he decided to go in person to the Sanctuary in Mugnano to give thanks to the Saint and remained for six days to fulfil this duty.
His health remained perfect, he provided important services to the reigning Highest Pontiff Pius IX for over 40 years, and in the month of July 1870 occupying the post of wardrobe valet to the Pope at a respected age he passed on to a better life, .
e – Resurrection from the death of an eight year old boy.
It is still Ippolito that writes; “Rosa Di Lucia, noblewoman of Mugnano cousin of Fr. Francesco D., Caretaker of the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena, one day while holding one of her sons only eight years old who had been ill for a long time saw him passing away in her motherly arms. After having wet the cold corpse with the warmest of tears, and having made sure that there was trace of life, animated by true faith, she took the dear image of the Thaumaturgic Saint, and placing it on the small body of her deceased son, with loud screams and uncontrollable crying she kept begging for the grace of life; and the son like someone waking up after a deep lethargic sleep, rose again to new life and gave himself to the love of his mother”.
f –A fire distinguished due to the presence of a Saint Philomena image which does is untouched by the flames (miracle similar to the one of the house of the Saint John Vianney, Curé of Ars, where the fire stopped just in front of the reliquary of the Saint).
Monsignor Joseph Segna, Bishop of Marsi, wrote this to the Rector of the Sanctuary of Mugnano; “We have had another miracle happening in my area of Poggio Ginolfo, where there has been devotion for Saint Philomena and was displayed to the public in May 1834 with the solemnity an image of the Saint. On November 8 a fire broke out in the fireplace of Giuseppe Laurenzi. It was inextinguishable by human hands. It was about midday and threatened the houses nearby, causing screams and cries from the frightened neighbours. The consternation was so great that the church bells were rung to gather the people and protect them from danger. Although water and mud was being used, and it was raining, the ruinous flame became hungrier and more terrible. Then a general cry arose from the crowd with these words; “Bring the image of Saint Philomena”. Immediately the priest, my nephew Fr. Cosma Segna, was called. He quickly took a paper image that he had in his domestic oratory, rushed over with incredible speed, went into the house passing among the swarming crowd, and said; “Here is Saint Philomena”, and publicly he threw the image in the burning fireplace, and as if pushed by the wind she was seen rising high above the flames, inside the chimney, and she disappeared from everyone’s view. After watching this all the onlookers were anxious and alarmed, and each one of them thought about transporting their belongings out of their homes, so that the fire would not destroy and incinerate them because it looked as if it would expand to the whole village. When against all expectations after about no more than five or six minutes suddenly the threatening flame was extinguished, and everyone present saw the sacred image of Saint Philomena return. It came down the chimney like a dove of peace fluttered across the room and settled on the left side of the fireplace, untouched and unaltered by the fire like a trophy victorious against the voracious flame. The observing crowd exclaimed full of admiration; “Oh, great miracle of Saint Philomena” and with highest veneration everybody tried to kiss the prodigious image.”
The prodigies here described are only a small part of the ones reported in the various works about Saint Philomena. Ippolito’s volume alone describes over one hundred of them that, in the majority of cases, show true characteristics of miracles.
- Miracles corroborated by official acts and authoritative recognitions from Popes, Bishops, and important people.
a – Healing of the lawyer Alexander Serio. His gift of the Altar and the prodigy of the marble table miraculously repaired.
This miracle is also described by Ippolito; “Another great devotee of Saint Philomena was a certain Neapolitan lawyer, D. Alessandro Serio, who in the year 1814 was in Mugnano with his wife, Lady Giovanna Fusco, for their holidays. He had been suffering for many years from a serious internal illness, and through the intercession of the Saint he was hoping for a full recovery. For this reason he prayed with fervor at the Saint’s altar. This continued for eight days, when he was suddenly struck by severe abdominal pains, and he was instantly taken home and placed in bed. The illness grew so much worse, that in a few hours he had little time left to live, without the possibility of confession. Concerned by so much pain, his spouse took a frame with a picture of the Saint, and placed it on her husband’s body, begging for the grace of seeing him pass away at least with the Holy Sacraments, and promising to have an altar in the chapel of Saint Philomena made of marble. In that instant, Serio’s responsiveness returned, and he was completely out of danger. During his sacrament of confession, the deadly pain disappeared completely, and with it the old disease.
It the meantime the work for the marble altar started (fig. 10) in favor of the grateful mercy received by the Serio family, and the Saint marked this work with particular prodigy. The required materials were obtained, all made of the finest marble and rare stones. The work began and had already reached of the stage of positioning the top, made of one single marble slab, when the marble worker D. Giovanni Cimafonte, grooving for the positioning of the sacred stone, cracked the marble slab in the middle with the first blow of the chisel for three quarters of the slab length.
At this unexpected misfortune the craftsman was worried not much for his reputation, but more for his job, since he believed that it was impossible to continue the work, expecting with the successive blows that the remaining intact part of the slab would break too. With the use of an iron bar, he even tried to reinforce the side where the crack was, which was wider than a finger, and he tried to tighten it as much as he could; he continued with his work with the help of drills, and the sacred stone was slotted in the appropriate groove. It still had the crack, more than a finger wide, but then another prodigy. While the hand of the worker filled the crack, the invisible hand of the Saint restored the marble, joining both parts and leaving only a very thin line to evidence the miracle, so that it looked like a natural marble vein. This prodigy took place in a public church in front of many citizens. The news travelled throughout the whole village and one of the witnesses took the slab from the table that was first cracked and then restored, showed it to the crowd, and hitting it with a sledge hammer let the crowd hear the sound that was that of a whole marble. In memory of this portentous event, a marble inscription can be read by the visitor who enters that Sanctuary. It is situated on the left wall at the entrance. It reads; Altare quod hoc in Templo visitur ante Corpus Sanctae Christi M. et V. Philumenae valde est venerandum; in eius enim erectione manu arteficis sacra mensa in medio fracta est; virtute omnipotentis refecta ac integra restituta multitidine civium astante atque etiam digitus Dei opus suum signavit linea suboscura ut cernitur. Hoc factum est anno divinae Reparatonis MDCCCXIV.”
-The altar that can be seen in this church, in front of Saint Philomena’s body Martyr of Christ and venerable Virgin, during its erection the sacred table was broken by the hand of the artist and by the hand of the Almighty restored in one piece in front a crowd of citizens, and the work of God’s finger left, as it can be noted, a dark line. This happened in the year of the Redemption 1814-.
b – Miracle of the sweating of Saint Philomena’s statue.
In 1806 Cardinal Louis Ruffo Scilla (1750-1832), Archbishop of Naples (1802-1832), donated a wooden statue of Saint Philomena (fig. 11) to the Sanctuary containing in its chest cavity a reliquary which enclosed a small bone particle belonging to the Martyr, as reported by Ippolito.
This statue is brought every year in procession through the streets of Mugnano, on the second Sunday of August. On August 10, 1823, during the procession, the statue became heavier. The next day, the statue sweated fragrant “manna” for three consecutive days. Regarding this, there are two public records; one signed by the Vicar Foraneo and by 17 priests of the clergy of Mugnano, the other by the Mayor, the Chancellor, and from the Members of the Council. These records were deposited in the municipal archive and in Our Lady of Grace Church in Mugnano. In memory of this, a marble inscription was placed in the Church of Our Lady of Grace.
c – Miracle in the Church of the Cesarea in Naples of the statue of Saint Philomena’s facial transformation.
In June 1925 the Charitable Miss Maria Cementano, accompanied by her friend Maria Compare, went to the studio of the famous artist Louis De Luca and, with sincere and courageous words, she exposed her fervent wish of a statue of Saint Philomena for the Church of the Cesarea. It was to be made of paper mâché and the artist had to create only the hands, head and feet, since the young devotee wanted to dress the Saint personally with a white dress and a purple cloak.
At first he refused saying that, as he was a famous artist, he was used to making his artistic shapes in bronze and marble, not paper mâché. He wanted to give full expression and life to his figures. He did not just make mutilated heads and stumps of Saints. Later on, convinced by the insistence of the young woman, he accepted.
He fell in love with his subject; he lived that period of virginity and martyrdom in the intimacy of his heart and he completed the statue, which was presented on August 13, 1925. Some days later, De Luca was no longer happy with his work. While everybody praised it, he felt the need to correct it. For a full month he relived his Saint Philomena and only on September 30 was the statue was returned in the Sanctuary of the Cesarea.
The first of October was the important vigil. In the morning there was a very animated discussion between Louis De Luca and Msgr. Fabozzi, Superior of the Sanctuary. The latter believed that the statue was a masterpiece; perfect features, beautiful expression, but the people would not recognize in this statue their Saint, because De Luca had decided to represent an agonizing young girl, giving the image a cadaverous look. The eyelids down, the lips a purplish colour. This statue represented a dying person, perhaps a heroine, but certainly not a martyr. On that lovely face there was no rosy glow, or trace of mystic passion.
The reason for which the statue had “no life” was simple; the artist did not have spiritual sensibility. Msgr. Fabozzi tried to explain to De Luca that Saint Philomena was a martyr and that martyrs, in the supreme moment, they are luminous, they are inflamed with love of God; they are never as alive as in the instant in which they die.
De Luca did not want to listen to any of this. The barrier between them was not about a different concept of art, but a different concept of faith.
The work was temporarily placed in the sacristy. During that day it was seen by many priests, nuns, ladies of charity and they all shared the same opinion; she was nice, she was beautiful but she looked like a cadaver. The same young ladies who had ordered the statue were unhappy and tried to persuade the artist to colour her up a little, but when they heard that this would have requested more time, they decided to leave it as it was. Disappointed, they asked De Luca to personally place the purple cloak artistically on the statue.
The next day was the 2nd of October, feast of the Angels, and Msgr. Fabozzi was celebrating the Mass in their honour, where there was an altar dedicated to them. When Fr. Di Millo, who was to celebrate the next Mass, arrived he did not think it was convenient to put his clothes in the sacristy during the celebration of a religious service and, contrary to his usual behaviour, went in the last room.
Driven by curiosity he lifted the newspapers that covered the statue and he too was struck by that deathly colouring. A short while later De Luca went in and he suddenly came out very agitated, trembling, emotionally moved. Turning to Msgr. Fabozzi he asked who had modified the statue.
The priest told him that nobody had retouched it, but seeing that he was not convinced, they both went into the last room. He too was astonished. The image was no longer the same. The features had remained the same, but on them an unknown hand had spread an extremely delicate rose shade. It was subtle pink, virginal. The colour was not uniform, only the cheeks, the nostrils, the chin, even under the nails had this astounding shading.
These were not patches, but admirably artistic. Particularly surprising were the lips; the purplish color had disappeared, and there was now a pinkish color not uniform but full of different shades and tones. The statue was fully dry, as if it had been painted over fifteen days before. As a matter of fact, the hair that De Luca had placed the week earlier was still “sticky”, while the face, painted now by a mysterious brush, was completely dry. They tried to give little publicity to the event because they wanted to study the surprising phenomenon.
In the daily newspaper ,Roma, there was an article that suggested a check to verify this. If De Luca still had left-overs of the colors used for the statue, why not paint a head, place it in the same environmental conditions and then verify after a few days what happened?
The experiment was immediately accepted and was carried out with scientific standards. The head of a statue was painted with the left-over of the colors used by De Luca, using the maximum precaution. A few days later, the seals were removed, the result was verified; the head had remained yellow, pale, cadaverous.
At this point somebody talked about chemical reaction. De Luca was questioned and they asked him what materials he had used for the painting. He declared that he had used yellow clay and silver grout, adding some amber and some green clay. Mixing the yellow clay with the bleak silver grout, he had achieved a pale colour, nearly cadaverish. He gave three coatings of this paint to the work, leaving some days between each one of them to allow for each coating of color to dry properly. With such technical and chemical elements it was impossible to have a reaction so anomalous to generate a pinkish colour. What had happened was supernatural!
As a matter of fact, the members of the Artistic Club of Naples sent a report to the Ecclesiastical Authorities, signed by the Court of Enquiry, in which it was declared that, in those environmental conditions, a chemical reaction could not have produced the known phenomenon.
These, we have to admit, were very brave people, since to state the truth in a century pervaded by sceptics is a real act of courage. We report exactly the Sentence of the Canonical Process;
“On January 30, 1926 with written order to us, we the judges delegated by his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, Msgr. Alessio Ascalesi, to institute the regular canonical process on the extraordinary event of the coloration, deemed as prodigious, of an artistic statue of the Famous Virgin and Martyr Saint Philomena made for venerating in the Sanctuary of the Cesarea in Naples. Having the Canonical Process been instructed of the miracle of the coloration of the face of the Statue of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Philomena, having always been present in all the sessions one or both of the faith Promoters the Most Ill and Most Rev. Canonics Don Gennaro and Don Carmine, in Curia legitimately constituted; and after having held the same Process, according to the canonical rules, we hereby declare, after having heard the same faith promoters, our opinion contained in the following verdict;
Considering that the mentioned coloration in all its artistic detail happened before the eyes of the artist, reluctant to admit a supernatural event, actually rather irritated, at first, about the undeniability of the coloration that had happened in a few moments;
Apart from this first witness providentially present at the phenomenon, a further eight witnesses have been cited and minutely questioned which had, among others, seen the first obstinately cadaveric colouring, and then the above-mentioned artistic coloration;
The evidence produced to show the non-existence of a natural process for that coloration, is varied and significant, as shown by the full debate; the instantaneity, for example, the preservation of the simulacrum in the primitive state with no human hand that could have touched it, the artistic inspection carried out on behalf of the artist by competent people with the hope to reproduce, if possible, with the same details the same phenomenon here verbally states that human resources could not have produced these changes;
Invited by our Most Reverend Curia Archiepiscopal, two skilled and sworn professors whom as judge delegates have carried out a survey in the Sanctuary of the Cesarea, in order to give their artistic-critical opinion on the phenomenon, these people without having any prejudices or exchanged their views between themselves, have reported in different papers and stated their personal judgement which -considering all circumstances- confirms that it would be impossible to naturally reproduce such a phenomenon;
Finally,the course of this prodigious event in all its individual particulars reveals a special intention, the Illustrious Virgin and Martyr at first wanted only the artist as the witness of that instantaneous action, in which she donated the really incomparable grace of reconciliation to God, the artist and then she called many more witnesses to follow the event, as if giving to everyone the pledge for future graces.
We believe, declare and affirm in our orderly delegated Authority to be truly witnessing a supernatural event and therefore a proper miracle operated by her”.
Naples, 27 August 1926
In faith, we undersign
Card. A. Ascalesi, Archbishop
d – Miracle of the multiplication of the Saint’s relics in the hands of Msgr. Anselmo Basilici, Bishop of Sutri and Nepi.
Msgr. Anselmo Basilici, Bishop of Sutri and Nepi, was a tireless promoter of the cult of Saint Philomena. Following his requests, Pope Gregory XVI, in the year 1834, arranged that the Sacred Congregation of Rites examine the reasons to concede the Indult of the Mass and Saint Philomena’s Office in various Dioceses, which was subsequently granted.
Msgr. Basilici had received a few relics from Mugnano and wanted to divide them between the Churches of his Diocese. He wanted to please all the applicants, but he did not know how. At this point the relics prodigiously multiplied themselves, as he later declared with one of his own certificates, when he came to visit the Sanctuary of Mugnano on May 31, 1835.
He also declared that he received requests about relics from the Cardinals Odescalchi, Falzacappa, Wels and Pandolfi, as well as several Bishops, to promote the devotion, and that he managed to meet the demands of everybody. On June 16, 1835, Gregory XVI received in audience the same Bishop, to be informed, with documented report, on this prodigious event. The Pope, moved, ordered Cardinal Pedicini, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites to verify the matter.
The next day (June 17) in absence of Card. Pedicini, the division of the dust belonging to the sacred Body of Saint Philomena was solemnly carried out by Card. Galeffi, Vice Prefect, in front of many witnesses who confirmed the prodigy. (Cf. DE LUCIA, Relaz. Ist., vol. III, p. VI).
e – Miracle of the healing of the Franciscan Sister Maria Gesualda Garelli.
When Msgr. Anselmo Basilici, on June 16, 1835, came to Rome to the Holy See to report to the Pope about the prodigy of Saint Philomena’s Relics, the Saint was already highly venerated and well known in Rome.
Amongst the many miracles performed in the Eternal City, we remember the one about the Franciscan Sister Maria Gesualda Carelli, because it was certified by two eminent Cardinals.
This religious Franciscan had received the last Sacraments because she was so ill that she could no longer open her eyes and feed herself. Everybody was just waiting for her to die.
When her confessor applied on the agonizing face an image of Saint Philomena, instantaneously Sister Maria Gesualda sat on the bed and shouted; “I’m healed!”.
The Cardinal Galeffi, protector of the monastery of the Saints Cosma and Damiano, ascertained the healing on the spot and Cardinal Zurla, vicar of His Sanctity, dealt with the necessary legal information.
f – Miraculous healing of Giovanna Cescutti (Venice ,1835) for the intercession of Saint Philomena.
This miracle happened a month before the one equally astonishing of the healing of Pauline Jaricot at the Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, which , as previously mentioned, amazed Don Francesco De Lucia himself. This miracle echoed throughout Italy, also because a noble Neapolitan was its witness: Don Gennaro Caracciolo dei Duchi di Rodi (Dukes of Rodes), knight to His Majesty Ferdinand II of Bourbon, King of Naples, who was greatly devoted to Saint Philomena together with the Royal family, and who was also a benefactor of our Sanctuary which he visited in numerous occasions. After the Miracle, the Venetian Curia had written an official and thorough report on the exceptional event, outlined in legal format, with the proper stamps and signatures, and assigned Cavalier Caracciolo to deliver it to Don Francesco De Lucia, guardian of the Sacred Body of the glorious Martyr. Here is a summary of the content of the document. Giovanna Cescutti, was a young woman of about 20 years of age who lived in Venice. She suffered various illnesses which could not be cured. She suffered extreme pains which often left her at death’s door. One day she was stricken by a sudden illness, she was at the end of her tether. In the evening of the 6th of July 1835 the parish priest of Santa Maria del Giglio, Don Antonio Magnana, who had been assisting the woman for a long time, call in her family to recite << to Saint Philomena a prayer, which was barely voiced by the sick woman who was so weak that could follow him only with her mind and heart>>. It was around 11 in the evening and the parish priest, ended the prayers of the sick and thinking that the woman had passed away, asked the people there to recite together 3 Our Fathers in honour of Saint Philomena. <<Once it was over, Prodigy! (The young one said). She got up from her supine position in which she had been laying the whole day, and with clear and vigorous voice she proclaimed: Oh Dear! I am better, thanks to God I am in good health again after 10 years suffering!>> This instant recovery from all her incurable illnesses was of great amazement to all and it was confirmed by well known doctors. On the 16th of July 1835 the miraculously cured woman went to Santa Maria del Giglio to <<thank solemnly God in the Church>>. An epigraph in Latin was also placed in the Church praising Saint Philomena. By coincidence on the same day in which Cavalier Caracciolo came to Mugnano to deliver the document detailing the miracle to Don F. De Lucia, Mons. Ferretti apostolic nuncio of Naples came. He brought a splendid golden silver lantern sent by Pope Gregory XVI with other precious gifts. The other primate read the important document delivered from Venice and astonished by the miracle obtained for the intercession of Saint Philomena, asked for a copy because he thought the event was worthy to be know everywhere.
g – Miracle of Pauline Marie Jaricot and her statement.
After the hearing granted to Mons. Anselmo Basilici, who had informed him of the many miracles of Saint Philomena, and after the approval of the Congregation of Rites (1834) to grant the Mass “de Communi” and the Office with his own fourth lesson, Pope Gregory XVI, conscious of the situation and its delicacy, before approving the decree of the Sacred Congregation, decided to wait for some other miracle. It arrived with the astonishing healing of Pauline Jaricot, who had founded in Lyon, the Living Rosary and the l’Opera della Propagazione della Fede (Society for the Propagation of the Faith) (fig 12).
Struck by violent illness, Jaricot, paralytic and nearly dying, came on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Mugnano, where she arrived on August 8, 1835, brought on a chair. According to some witnesses she already looked like a cadaver. She remained for two days in prayer in front of the urn of Saint Philomena. On August 10th, during the blessing with the Most Holy Sacrament, she had the sensation of having been healed; she got up and walked without any support. This is how the Servant of God describes the event;
“For many years I had been affected by various illnesses, so serious, that I had no hope of healing as established by a consultation of the doctors of Lyon, who asserted that the resurrection of the dead would have been a miracle of the Most High, and my health, for the incurable illnesses, required more miracles, and big ones.
“But what scared me most of all, and made me tremble every moment with the possibility of imminent death, was an aneurysm of the heart, with which I had suffered for many years, and that especially for the past fifteen months caused me deadly heart palpitations that took my breath away and forced me to stay nearly always in bed. The doctors considered my life like a daily prodigy because the blood that palpitated in my heart, would strike back in my chest, where a sore had generated, which would constantly make me sick with rotten blood, which gave off an intolerable smell even for myself, and I had developed an enormous obstruction in my liver that caused an enormous swelling of my whole body, from the soles of my feet to my neck, as everybody could see.
“Everybody was moved to compassion, especially the people in Mugnano, who kept observing me the whole time preceding the miracle.
“In this mortal state I had some moments of improvement, but only after the Novenas in honour of Saint Philomena, from devoted people, who for pity took an interest in me.
“My state of immobility in bed, and the aneurysm, the enormous swelling, would not even allow my hand to bring food to my mouth, which I had to receive from other people’s hands. All this was mitigated by Saint Philomena in honour of her merciful, and worthy patronage, in virtue of which, I had unexpected strength of holding in my hands a book, which talked about her, her martyrdoms, and her miracles, and I managed all this without provoking the deadly illnesses, which would return, especially when I wanted to use my left hand. Oh, the amount of hope that I received in the loving patronage of this great Virgin and Martyr!
“Even greater was the effect of these prayers in my favour to Saint Philomena, that I was allowed to leave the bed, and to stay seated the whole day in a chair, which was made for my special use, that I still needed for my journey, of which I will talk about later. I was able to use my strength under the protection of my Saint, so much in my favour, and to undertake the pilgrimage to Paray le Monial, a Sanctuary near Lyon, and famous for the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Glory to this adorable Sacred Heart, which has given me the strength to visit the Basilica of Loreto, Rome, and to be in Mugnano for the visit to the sacred Body of the most lovable Thaumaturge Saint Philomena. Glory to You Most Venerable V. Mary. Glory also to you, chosen daughter, and most loved by the Empress of Heaven, and favourite bride of Jesus, Philomena. You have been my protecting Angel and my support for my whole painful journey. You have been like a helpful cloud, keeping covered from the harmful heats of the fervent season, which threatened deadly effects, and protecting me from the dangers of such a long journey from Lyon to Mugnano, and from the dangers usually encountered by the night travellers.
“With the medals of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and of Saint Philomena, which we had placed inside and outside in many places of the coach, and provided even our carriage attendants with, it felt as if we had called the Angels of the Lord around us for protection during our journey by day, and night never interrupted, which was completely exempt from the slightest incident. By simple accidental circumstances, which I like to attribute to my lovable protector Philomena, I arrived in Mugnano at the same time that the blessing of the Most Holy Sacrament was taking place, after the end of the most solemn vespers for my dear advocate’s important festivity, and this was for me a sign for a happy, and Saintly wish.
“My ardent intention to come to the glorious tomb of Saint Philomena to pay her homage, was not to ask for my healing, since I thought that I’d be better to entrust myself in the hands of God, who knows best what is most advantageous. But the charity of the good people who were in the church, and of the good foreign devotees of the Saint, who were numerous inside, and outside, who were present at my arrival, thought that the intention of my journey was the return of my health. I therefore heard a general shouting, which made me understand, that all those souls moved to pity for me were asking the Thaumaturge for my healing. From the night of Saturday the eighth of August until Monday the tenth, I was brought to the church twice a day, on my chair with armrests, and the people who were at the feet of the Saint V. and M. were asking with fervour for my healing.
“At last Monday evening, at the moment of the blessing of the Most Holy Sacrament I felt unusual strength in me, and with ease I wanted to kneel down. I felt the urge to try and walk, and to go out of the church without my chair. I had it brought after me for precaution, in case my weakness would return, but to my amazement I managed, without it or any support, to walk up to my hotel, and more remarkably I managed to climb freely a whole steep flight of stairs, which I had not managed for the last fifteen months. From this moment I managed, without any help, to go from my accommodation to the church, walk across Mugnano, and even accompany the Most Holy Viaticum in difficult places, and this without feeling the terrible aches typical of my illness.
“Furthermore I have been comfortably kneeling down, like all the other faithful, during the sacred functions, and I can say without any exaggeration, that my health is improving more and more. This is glorifying for her through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Queen of Virgins, honour this lovable girl, in whom the power of the Divine Triumph has so visibly showed itself. Oh Philomena, preferred Daughter, and charity of Our Lady of Graces! Your heavenly mother delights herself in the beauty of your merits! She glorifies herself in all the surprising features of your virtues for her Son’s honour, your spouse, and her heart rejoices at the sight of the palms and crowns, which all the people of the earth decree to you with much honour! Oh Philomena, your charity has made you admirably known by all the nations, your name has come to give my unhappy country a great reason for hope, this so sweet and powerful name has reached as far as me, and as soon as I heard it, I was attracted to your celebrated tomb, and I have tested the effects of your generous charity. I need to say to your glory, that the benefits already received by me with your intercession, are much higher than the ones of my body, of which I have already reported in details. Therefore I believe that this recognition imposed on me to consecrate myself to my illustrious Benefactress. Yes, Philomena, all my life I want to love you like my beloved, honour you like my protecting Angel, and I hope, with the divine help, to contribute, as much as I can, to honour you, so that everybody can experience, like me, how much you are generously good towards those that tenderly love you, and invoke you.
“I have written down all these details to inform everybody of the unhappy state of my health prior to the prodigious grace of my health, details that I have signed, and written with my own hand, and with people as witness, to give homage to the truth, and fulfil the debt, although ineffectively, of my due recognition, and to comply to the request made by the ecclesiastic and civil authority of Mugnano”.
This miracle is reported by many authors. Here we want to highlight that;
Pope Gregory XVI saw Jaricot before she went to Mugnano and affirmed; “In this instance if there will be a miracle, it will be first class”.
Returning to the Vatican after the miracle, the afore mentioned Pope recognized the healing of Jaricot as an occasion with which God wanted to let the Sanctity of the martyr Philomena glow.
Jaricot stayed in Rome for a full year after the miracle, to satisfy the Pope’s desire to make sure of her full recovery.
Because of this miracle Pope Gregory XVI decided once and for all to confirm solemnly January 30, 1837, the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of September 6, 1834.
After the extraordinary miracle (fig. 13) obtained thanks to the intercession of Saint Philomena, Pauline returned to France. Having gone to visit the Curé of Ars, she gave him a small relic of the Saint Martyr, brought with her from Mugnano. In 1839, as a sign of gratitude, Jaricot returned to Mugnano for four days. She subsequently built, on her property in Lyon, a chapel in honour of Saint Philomena.
h – Healing obtained by the Blessed Anna Maria Taigi.
The Blessed Anna Maria Taigi was a fervent devotee of Saint Philomena and she often experienced her powerful intercession in person.
One of her granddaughters Peppina, daughter of her oldest child Sofia; injured one of her eyes. This is how the husband of the Blessed Anna Maria, Peppina’s grandfather, told of this miracle at the Beatification process; “I remember that Peppina, Sofia’s daughter, injured one of her eyes. The doctors said that her pupil had been lacerated and there was no hope of healing […]. The of Servant of God Anna Maria made the sign of the Cross with the oil of Saint Philomena, placed her hand on the girl’s head and sent her to bed.
“Peppina slept very well without feeling any pain; and the next day, her eye had healed so perfectly that she managed to go to school to the Pious Teachers of Jesus. The sceptical surgeons decided to perform different tests to ensure that she could see”.
i – The miracle of the Curé of Ars.
Between Saint Philomena and the Curé of Ars, an important relationship was established. This relationship is so important that the figure of the Curé of Ars becomes incomprehensible if his huge devotion to his dear “little Saint” is not taken into consideration. This bond has something of the prodigious about it.
Saint Philomena’s Miracle towards the Curé of Ars was multiform; 1) Saint Philomena’s apparition to the Curé of Ars; 2) Miraculous healing of the Curé by Saint Philomena’s intercession; and 3) Miraculous healings happening in Ars following the Curé’s urging to turn to Saint Philomena.
– Apparition to Saint John Marie Vianney, Curé of Ars.
The Curé of Ars (fig. 14) didn’t want people talking too much about extraordinary events in his life. This attitude is described very well in the Procèes de l’Ordinaire, I, p. 709, by Jeanne Marie Chanay, and in a special way by Etiennette Duria who, in front of the court of inquiry, reported to have heard the Curé speaking loudly to Our Lady. As soon as Vianney realized he had been caught, he admonished Etiennette with assertive tone; “If you talk about this, you’ll never step into this house again!…”. And in a more subdued tone he added; “With the Holy Virgin and with Saint Philomena we know each other pretty well”.
After the apparition that the Curé had during the illness of May 1843, Monnin will report; “It is the general opinion that in that mysterious conversation they had said things which had been the consolation of the saintly priest until the end of his life”.
That the Curé of Ars knew what the Saint looked like can be deduced from the testimony of Miss Sofia Mècusson who, having asked him during confession for an image of Saint Philomena heard him reply; “But in your church of Ligny, there is a picture that represents her. Go and have it copied . It is the most beautiful head of the Saint that I know”.
Trochu added that he was not aware of the Curé ever having been to Ligny and that, for what he knew, he could not have any knowledge of the existence of that picture, dated 1836. Therefore the Curé must have known about it by mysterious ways.
– Miraculous healing of the Curé of Ars.
This is how it’s described by the Rector Don Gennaro Ippolito, copying from the work of the abbot Monnin; “It was the beginning of May 1843. The venerable Curé without anyone to help him succumbed exhausted under the weight of the huge amount of people that would come to him for confession. During Mary’s month he used to go on the pulpit every night, and address the gathered faithful.
“The third day he felt so ill in the middle of his speech that he had to stop. He tried to do a reading, but he could not finish it. He began the prayer and his voice and strength failed him completely. He came down struggling from the pulpit, went to bed, and soon the worst symptoms started to show. On May 6th it was reported that his illness was extremely serious, and the whole parish was in tears and prayers. The abbot Bernard on May 10th stated that in every part of the village reigned a gloomy silence, consternation was visible on all faces.
“The pilgrims wandered on the square and around the church like a herd without a shepherd. As soon as the male nurses would appear everybody would surround them; ‘How’s the saint Curé, our good father?’ they would ask anxiously. There were about two or three hundred who had not been confessed by the abbot Vianney. At the answer that there had not been any improvements, they would enter the church, forcing their way into Heaven and imploring the Lord, with the intercession of the Virgin and Saint Philomena, for a full recovery of someone so dear. The fifth day of the illness there was a consultation. It was confirmed by the previous and present symptoms of the illness the existence of a pleura-pneumonia at the bottom of the right lung, at the front and the back. Due to the fatal events that the doctors predicted and their diagnosis foreshadowed, it was thought that administration of the sacraments had to be hastened. The following day after this imposing ceremony, the Curé of Farius was celebrating the Mass at the altar of Saint Philomena. At the same time, the Curé, who had never been without a temperature, for the first time fell peacefully asleep; from that moment he felt better and better until fully recovered. It was the general opinion that Saint Philomena had appeared to him and that in a mysterious conversation things were said, and these were the consolation of the priest until the end of his life. The testimony of the school teacher who was at his bedside day and night is as follows; Our Holy Curé feeling that he was at the end of his life wanted a Mass to be celebrated in honour of Saint Philomena, to whom he had consecrated himself with a special vow. A nearby priest was called to say it, and all the people of Ars, foreigners and local,s attended. Before the mass began, the Curé looked like a frightened man. I noticed something extraordinary, a great anxiety, an unusual disturbance. I observed all his movements with my attention; I thought that the fatal time had arrived, and that he was going to give his last breath. But as soon as the priest went onto the Altar he suddenly looked calmer like a man who had seen something pleasant and reassuring. The mass had just ended when he exclaimed; ‘My Friend, there has been big a big change in me… I am fully recovered.’ I felt an immense joy in hearing those words. I was still convinced that he had had a vision, since I had more than once heard him murmur the name of his sweet protector, which made me think that Saint Philomena had appeared to him, but I did not dare question him.
“The following days brought a big improvement to the Curé, who attributed his recovery to the intercession of Saint Philomena. On Friday, May 19th he had himself taken to the church. He fell on his knees in front of the Altar and was submerged in sentiments of adoration and gratitude with acceptance of the Lord’s Will, who wanted him to live and to continue his work. As he had adored God, he went to prostrate himself in the Chapel of his dear Saint, where he prayed now for a long time with admirable fervour and consolation”.
“Amongst the miracles received by the Curé from the Saint, we remember the one that took place three years before his death, when the devil set his bed on fire and he, aware of this, did not panic. In this fire, the flames stopped in front of Saint Philomena’s reliquary; “… and from that point the fire left a straight line from top to bottom of symmetric precision, destroying everything that was on one side and sparing all that was on the other of the Saint’s relic.”
3) – Miraculous healings in Ars by intercession of Saint Philomena.
The chapel in Ars, named after Saint Philomena, is so full of crutches and other ex voto, as proof of the miracles operated there, to justify the “telling off”, of the Curé to the Saint, for performing too many miracles!
A full description of the numerous miracles and conversions that took place in the chapel of Saint Philomena in Ars, can be found in the literary work of the Abbot Alfred Monnin.
Here we will just quote some of them, which are truly amazing.
a – Healing of Moulins’ ecclesiastic.
Msgr. Gennaro Ippolito writes; “In the month of May 1843, one of Moulins’ ecclesiastics who came to Ars, was suffering with tuberculosis in its last stages. The abbot Vianney had told him that he would not recover, and that he was destined for heaven. Even though the prognosis was so frightening, the good priest decided to stay in Ars awaiting the end of his suffering, invoking mercy from God Omnipotent. This priest during the Holy Curé’s illness had been of great assistance in the most critical days, never refusing his time or help. Now that the Curé had recovered, he said to the good priest, ‘My dear friend, you were so charitable during my illness that the Lord has changed his plan for you; you will recover. In one of the Churches of your city you’ll dedicate a statue to Saint Philomena, and you’ll ensure that the parish chosen by you consecrates a Chapel to her. This will be your way of saying thank you.’
And the Curé of Ars’ prediction was fulfilled.”
b – Healing of cripples.
On August 9, 1848, in the church of Ars, through Saint Philomena’s intercession, Anthony Cohard, age seven years, got the use of his legs.
On July 24, 1848 in Saint Philomena’s Chapel (fig. 15) a little girl of 12 years, Francis Volet, regained the use of her legs which had been lost five months earlier because of a serious illness. Laid on a chair, after receiving the Holy Eucharist, she started to walk in the church a few moments later without any support.
Another instantaneous healing, took place in the summer of 1858, and the witnesses were all the pilgrims and the inhabitants of Ars.
A young man from Puy-de-Dome, who could hardly walk even with the help of crutches, presented himself to the Holy Curé and was encouraged to have faith in the Saint. On the day of the Assumption, to everybody’s amazement, he put down the crutches at the feet of Saint Philomena’s Altar and he never used them again. Moved by gratitude, he then worked at Belley in the Brothers of the Holy Family Institute.
Similar healing was received by another young man in August 1858. Carl Blazy of Cebazat, Clermont Diocese, was deprived of the use of both legs in 1855. He was transported in a coach and then in a train to the Sanctuary of Ars, where he completed his novena to the Saint. He returned from Ars fully recovered. After having laid down his crutches in Saint Philomena’s Chapel, he managed to walk, without any effort, for 18 kilometres to return home.
Fig. 9 – At Saint Philomena’s tomb, a lamp is constantly burning and its oil is donated every year to a different Italian or worldwide city. Some faithful, anointed with the oil of this lamp, have been healed. For these prodigies “the devotion of Saint Philomena’s oil” was born, which is used to anoint the sick part of a body, for which the healing is invoked through the intercession of the Saint. This subject is dealt with in the Appendix V.
Fig. 10 – The altar donated by the lawyer Alexander Serio, where the prodigy of the “marble table” took place (1814). In remembrance, a marble slab was placed in the Sanctuary.
Fig. 11 – Saint Philomena’s statue donated by Cardinal Louis Ruffo Scilla, Archbishop of Naples. During the celebrations of August 1823, it sweated “sacred manna” for three consecutives days. The astonishing miracle was documented.
Fig. 12 – Pauline Marie Jaricot, founder of the “Society for the Propagation of the Faith” and the “Living Rosary”. She was miraculously cured by Saint Philomena on August 10, 1835 in our Sanctuary. Jaricot donated a relic of our Martyr to the Curé of Ars, who promoted the devotion to Saint Philomena in France more than anyone else.
Fig. 13 – The chair on which Pauline Jaricot was carried to the Sanctuary of Mugnano. After her extraordinary healing miracle it was kept as an “ex voto”.
Fig. 14 – Saint John Marie Vianney, Curé of Ars. He affirmed that the miracles performed in Ars happened thanks to Saint Philomena’s powerful intercession.
Fig. 15 – Saint Philomena’s chapel, in Ars, where Saint John Marie Vianney prayed, obtaining a great number of graces and extraordinary miracles.