I don’t have a particularly strong devotion to Saint Philomela, but I do invoke her intercession from time-to-time. And seemingly go to Saint Philomena on odd occasions. I do seem to have a natural connection with the saint coming from the greater New Haven area where there are plenty of older Italian women with the name of Philomela, though most go by “Phil.”
Over the years, however, Saint Philomela’s name surfaces, as it did today. One of the notes about the saint read thus,
“In 1802 the remains of a young woman were found in the catacomb of Saint Priscilla on the Via Salaria, Rome, Italy. It was covered by stones, the symbols on which indicated that the body was a martyr named Saint Philomena. The bones were exhumed, cataloged, and effectively forgotten since there was so little known about the person.
“In 1805 Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, Italy was in the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity (Treasury of Relics) in the Vatican. When he reached the relics of Saint Philomena he was suddenly struck with a spiritual joy, and requested that he be allowed to enshrine them in a chapel in Mugnano. After some disagreements, settled by the cure of Canon Francis following prayers to Philomena, he was allowed to translate the relics to Mugnano. Miracles began to be reported at the shrine including cures of cancer, healing of wounds, and the Miracle of Mugnano in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured a severe heart ailment overnight. Philomena became the only person recognized as a Saint solely on the basis of miraculous intercession as nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.
Our Catholic devotion to Saint Philomela:
• Pope Leo XII granted permission for the erection of altars and churches in her honor
• Pope Gregory XVI authorized her public veneration, and named her patroness of the Living Rosary
• The cure of Blessed Pius IX, while archbishop of Imola, was attributed to Philomena; in 1849, Pope Pius named her patroness of the Children of Mary
• Pope Leo XIII approved the Confraternity of Saint Philomena, and raised it to an Archconfraternity
• Pope Pius X raised the Archconfraternity to a Universal Archconfraternity, and named Saint John Vianney its patron
• Saint John Vianney himself called Philomena the New Light of the Church Militant, and had a strong and well-known devotion to her
And as Providence would have it, there is a grammar school near the Benedictine Abbey of St Gregory the Great and Portsmouth Abbey School, Portsmouth, RI, named for the Saint, Saint Philomena School.