On May 24th, 1802, the ancient remains of a 13-year-old girl were discovered in Rome. Her skeleton was found in a small crypt, called a loculus, in the Catacombs of Priscilla. Tiles in her tomb depicted three arrows, a martyr’s palm, a flower, and the Latin words “pax tecum Filumena” (“Peace be unto you, Philomena”). Philomena’s remains were placed at the Church of Our Lady of Grace, now called the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, in Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy.
A nun named Mother Maria Luisa di Gesù prayed before a statue of Philomena in 1833 and received a revelation about the martyr. Mother Maria Luisa said that Philomena told her the story of her martyrdom. In the third century CE, Philomena was a Greek princess whose father had converted to Christianity. When Philomena was thirteen, her father visited Emperor Diocletian in Rome. Diocletian fell in love with Philomena and wanted to marry her, but Philomena had taken a vow of consecrated virginity. Diocletian had Philomena scourged, drowned with an anchor, and shot with arrows; angels saved Philomena from each punishment. Enraged, Diocletian had Philomena decapitated. Philomena told Mother Maria Luisa that she was martyred on Friday, August 10th at 3:00 in the afternoon and that her birthday was January 10th.
Miracles were attributed to the relics of Saint Philomena, including the overnight healing of the Venerated Pauline-Marie Jaricot’s heart disease. Philomena was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837 and is the patron of infants, babies, and youth. Her Feast day is August 11th.