Saint Philomena, a saint for our age


Today is the feast of Saint Philomena, Virgin, Martyr and worker of countless miracles, notably through the intercession of St John Vianney, whom Pope Benedict, during the "Year of the Priesthood" (June 2009-June 2010) proclaimed as the "Patron of all the priests of the world."

As ever, we need to get out a metaphorical yard broom to clear the deck from a common reaction to St Philomena. For many people, the only fact they know about St Philomena is that “she didn’t exist.” When I first wrote about St Alphonsus, one commentator said that recommending him was "as loopy as promoting devotion to St Philomena" which I think tells you all you need to know.

Therefore my post Saint Philomena - pray for us! was not simply a recommendation to prayer, but a response to this received (and outdated) opinion that St Philomena did not exist. If you have recently read Taylor Marshall’s book “Infiltration”, you will not be surprised to see that I wrote:
“It is instructive to see the appalling article in the old Catholic Encyclopedia which illustrates the influence of rationalistic prejudice at the beginning of the 20th century which infected even Catholic circles.”
The best article defending the cultus of St Philomena is by Mark Miravalle: Present Ecclesial Status of Devotion to St. Philomena. It is well worth reading if you want to be properly informed when confronted with the customary skepticism which dates back to the early days of crypto-modernism.

Devotion to St Philomena ties in well with the initiative I wrote about the other day called "Break the Chains". The breakdown of chastity which gained momentum during the post-war years and then grew much more devastating in the last twenty year through the use of the internet for the promotion of pornography, had its roots in the atheistic philosophy of the French Revolution. At the time, St John Vianney saw the danger of unchastity clearly and opposed it strenuously. It does seem on the one hand providential that he was able to rely on the help of St Philomena, and on the other hand highly suspicious that she should have been a target of intense opposition in the first half of the twentieth century.

That period also saw particular repugnance among some ecclesiastical circles, for the cultus of the other Virgin Martyrs, and especially those who were young. St Philomena is a magnificent counter-cultural patroness for the spiritual battle against the impurity of our times, and a heroine that young people might warm to.

If you are looking for an additional devotion for the #BreakTheChains spiritual battle, I would consider it a privilege to be the one through whom you were to discover St Philomena. A good place to start would be the article about her at the website of the Living Rosary Association. At the EWTN website, there is a Litany and Novena to St. Philomena. The Litany was composed by St John Vianney.

On this feast day, please do also remember in your prayers the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest  who care for the Shrine Church of St Peter and St Paul and St Philomena, at New Brighton in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, and their their devout and pastoral Bishop, Mark Davies.

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