The Marvelous St. Philomena:
A Gem of a Book
Book-review on The Marvelous St. Philomena by Marian Horvat, Judith Mead, Ellyn Miller and Catherine Croisette, (Los Angeles: TIA, 2013), 86 pp.
Tradition in Action has just released a new book, The Marvelous St. Philomena, authored by Marian Horvat, Judith Mead, Ellyn Miller and Catherine Croisette. It is indeed a gem. The cover is elegant and the 86 pages have large black print on a stark white background, making it a pleasure to read. Its contents are as splendid as the cover. The book is simple and inspiring, a successful portrayal of this important Saint.
There is a very impressive introduction titled “To Philomena nothing is refused” by Ellyn Miller. She explains the many Popes who approved and were devoted to St. Philomena: Leo XII, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and St. Pius X among them. It was Pope Gregory XVI who acknowledged her as a Saint because of the many miracles she worked, calling her “the Wonder-worker of the 19th century.”
St. Philomena, a 13-year-old Virgin-Martyr, has been sadly neglected over the centuries, but these Popes and many Saints have had a great devotion to her and relied on her powerful intercession with God.
In fact, there is a whole chapter on the Curé d’Ars, St. John Vianney. It sets out many of the impressive miracles worked by St. Philomena at his request. On a pilgrimage to Ars some years ago, my Aunt and I saw the side altar with the remarkable statue of St. Philomena that the Curé placed there, but did not fully realize how important she was in his apostolate. His high regard for St. Philomena and full confidence in her is a testimony in itself to the “little Saint,” as he called her.
Most intriguing is how the relics of this great Saint were found only in the year 1802, so many centuries after her martyrdom. It is amazing how quickly this Virgin Martyr began to work miracles. One senses that Our Lord is so delighted with this Virgin, who gave her life to remain faithful to Him, her chosen Spouse, that He does not deny any request she makes.
At the same time, it was quite enjoyable to see the strong personality of this young Princess, daughter of a Greek King and Queen. During the transport of her relics from Rome to Mugnano, she often made her will clearly known. If something was not done the way she wanted, she was quick to let it be known. You will be delighted with her actions.
The statue over the altar in the Church in Ars, France
The story of her martyrdom – which she told to three separate persons at different times – was a very moving chapter.
In the final chapter, the book offers to devotees the valuable service of assembling various favorite and well-known prayers to St. Philomena, including her chaplet, novenas and litany. We also find a brief history of the cord, the chaplet and the oil, which, by the way, can be obtained from Catherine Croisette, one of the authors and a director of the California Center of the Universal Archconfraternity of St. Philomena. Her testimony in Chapter 7 was most edifying.
Before closing, it seems to me opportune to insert an interesting side note. There were actually three great women saints martyred at about the same time in the fourth century. Both St. Philomena and St. Maximina were martyred in 304 by the vicious and cruel Diocletian, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. The great St. Catherine of Alexandria, also a Princess, suffered her martyrdom in 305 by Maxentius, Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. There are many similarities between these three Virgins and Martyrs.
I highly recommend that you obtain this marvelous book. Say the prayers, wear the cord, and you will see that Philomena will bless you and answer your prayers. Her devotees affirm that they “talk” to her like a friend, one who always listens and responds, although not always in the way you might expect.
St. Philomena, pray for us.
Posted December 13, 2013