THE SAINT PHILOMENA MESSENGER
This is a very important year for us. 2005 A.D. marks two hundred years from the “translation” or moving of the relics of Saint Philomena from Rome to the parish church of Our Lady of Grace, Mugnano del Cardinale near Naples and the beginning of the Saint’s thousands of miracles! The relics were discovered in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla, Rome in 1802.
WHAT WERE OR ARE THE CATACOMBS?
A fascinating –and earliest- account of the catacombs is given
by St. Jerome, who visited them around the year 354 A.D.
I can testify that nothing much has changed. I was privileged to offer Holy Mass for the Souls in Purgatory in the Catacombs of St. Callistus three days after my ordination in 1984. Modernity had but added strings of electric light bulbs which helped vision, but our guide warned us solemnly that should anyone wander from the group he might never get out, since the tunnels ran for of miles and most of them were quite unlit.
The relics of Saint Philomena were discovered on the 25th. day of May, 1802 in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla on the Via Salaria Nuova. This day when her tomb was opened was found the skeleton of a girl, around thirteen years of age. She had been lanced to death. A small vase containing some of the martyr’s dried blood was found near the girl’s head. The relics were taken to the Custodia Generale in the Vatican.
To cut a long story short, one which may be read in any of the various books on Saint Philomena (I recommend Sister Mohr’s “Saint Philomena: Powerful with God”), the relics arrived in Mugnano on the 10th. of August 1805 after a journey replete with miracles. Saint Philomena was now in her new home!
NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL SHRINE
Saint Philomena has character! She did not wish us to pass by her anniversary without special reasons to celebrate. So it is that an anonymous donor arranged for us to receive a hand-carved statue of the Saint just before Christmas. Again, around the same time I was able to obtain / rescue through the internet another First Class relic of the Saint. The reliquary contains some of Saint Philomena’s hair and is authenticated by the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples in a certificate dated 1899!
Wednesday, 25th. May: Discovery of the sacred relics of Saint Philomena. 10.00 a.m. Holy Mass.
Friday, 5th. August: First day of the Solemn Novena of Masses in honour of Saint Philomena (See below).
Sunday, 14th. August: Patronal Festival of Saint Philomena. 11.00 a.m. Solemn High Mass, Street Procession, Devotions to the Saint, Blessing with her Relics, anointing with the Holy Oil, fireworks, music and refreshments.
Wednesday, 10th. August: Translation of the Relics of Saint Philomena from Rome to Mugnano del Cardinale. 10.00 a.m. Holy Mass.
TO REMIND YOU…
SAINT PHILOMENA PATRONAL FESTIVAL, 2005, A.D.
Sunday, 14th. August, 2005
Please call us for directions to the Shrine and recommendations for accommodation locally.
NOVENA OF MASSES PRECEDING THE PATRONAL FESTIVAL
A novena of Masses will be offered prior to the celebration on August 14th. To participate in the spiritual benefits derived from these Masses, please write your intentions on the enclosed card and return it to us in the envelope provided, along with a donation, if possible. Intentions will remain on the altar where the Masses will be celebrated throughout the Novena.
Anyone requesting a Perpetual Mass will have his intentions inscribed
in the Book of Perpetual Masses. A beautiful certificate will be sent,
inscribed with the name(s) of those to be remembered at Masses offered
on the four annual feast days of Saint Philomena, namely: Her Birthday,
10th. January; The discovery of her precious body, 25th. May; The anniversary
of her glorious death and the translation of her body from Rome to Mugnano
del Cardinale, 10th. August; Her principal feast day, 11th. August.
Fr. Enrique Rueda and myself hope to see as many of you as possible on the forthcoming celebrations on honour of our Patroness in this her special year. May the Good Lord shower upon you His choicest blessings through the powerful intercession of Saint Philomena!
The Revd. Fr. Timothy A. Hopkins, B.A., M.Th., P.G.C.E., Administrator of the Shrine.