Why Is St Philomena Relic Highly Venerated Today?

Why Is St Philomena Relic Highly Venerated Today?

Relics, or reliquaries, are holy objects representing the remains of saints of the Christian Church. These wonderworking items are venerated in both the Orthodox and Catholic faith. Worship of relics in Christianity has an ancient origin and is first mentioned in written evidence dating back to the 2nd century AD. However, the dogma of veneration of Catholic reliquaries and their obligatory placement in the altars of temples was established only in 787 at the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Since then, such incredibly valuable artifacts have become widespread, and today, any interested person can find a wide choice of Christian relics for sale available online. One of the most revered sacred items is the St Philomena relic. Let us tell you more about this saint.

The thirteen-year-old martyr Saint Philomena is an example of purity and loyalty to the Savior. She was born on January 10, 289 in the city of Nicopolis, Greece during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, and was tortured by him to death in Rome.

Saint Philomena relics were found on May 25, 1802 in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Italy. The symbols of her torture were engraved on the tomb: a palm branch, a white lily symbolizing her purity, a whip, three arrows (two of them facing the opposite directions, and one as if engulfed in a blazing fire), and an anchor. Another interesting thing, an ampoule with the blood of the young martyr, which was collected at the time of her death, was found next to the St Philomena relic. Her imperishable relics were transferred to the city of Mirano near Naples. In 1837, by the decree of Pope Gregory XVI, the virgin martyr Philomena was officially named one of the Christian saints.

The veneration of Saint Philomena was not widespread as only private forms of veneration remained. She even stopped being mentioned during religious services due to the lack of documented information about her existence and confirmed miracles. Years later, Pope John Paul II reinstated the public cult of the young martyr because of the testimonies of the Living Rosary followers received during their audience. Hence, the St Philomena relic is again in great demand among believers.

Another factor contributing to the spread of Saint Philomena’s worship was the fact that the well-known French priest Saint Jean-Marie Viannay especially venerated the virgin martyr. In his temple, he built a chapel in honor of Philomena and considered her patronage the cause of all the extraordinary miracles performed in his church. Father Vianney spoke of her often, preaching to offer prayers for the saint and praying to her himself. Thanks to the parish priest of Ars, the veneration of Saint Philomena spread throughout France, which eventually led to the appearance of the St Philomena relic pieces in numerous online relics stores.

Photo credit: Wikipedia User José Luiz / CC BY-SA 3.0