Pax tecum, Filumena

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Connecticut and Ireland

I am writing, dear readers, from Hamden, Connecticut where I am spending a few days with my parents before leaving for Ireland on Sunday. I will be traveling with a fellow priest. We will arrive on the Isle of Saints and Scholars Monday morning and repair straightaway to the little town of Drumshanbo in County Leitrim where we will lodge in the guesthouse of the Franciscan Nuns of Perpetual Adoration.

At the Court of the Eucharistic King

Drumshanbo is, I think, one of the holiest places in Ireland, sanctified by 140 years of uninterrupted Eucharistic adoration. Shortly after the introduction of Perpetual Adoration, a wondrous sign was given in the convent chapel: the apparition of a bright, snow-white cross about two and a half feet in height, with a throbbing heart at its centre. It was seen during Mass on two different occasions by several of the nuns for about eight minutes on the first time and half an hour the second time. The Convent's second Abbess, Mother Saint Joseph Horne, died on the feast of Corpus Christ 1879; her life in the cloister had been marked by an abundance of mystical graces. Mrs. Helena Concannon recounts the whole story in At the Court of the Eucharistic King (M.H. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1929).

Luminous Saints

August 11th is not only the feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, it is also the feast of the little virgin martyr Saint Philomena. The names of both saints signify light: Chiara derives from the Italian word for brightness, while Philomena is understood to mean "daughter of the light." Saint Philomena's popularity is increasing throughout the Catholic world; from Italy, France, and Ireland, devotion to her has spread to all five continents.

Patronness of the Curé d'Ars

Saint Philomena (or Filumena) emerged from centuries of obscurity when her relics were unearthed in Rome on May 24, 1802. Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, was among the saints most devoted clients. In the parish church of Ars he had a chapel built in her honour; he called Saint Philomena. The holy priest called Saint Philomena "the new light of the Church militant." He often recommended novenas to the little saint. She worked prodigies in answer to his prayers. "To Philomena," he would say, "nothing is refused."

Saint Philomena.jpg

A Saint Among Saints

The Curé d'Ars was not the only saint devoted to Philomena. The friends of Saint Philomena include Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Saint Peter Chanel, Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, Saint Euphrasia Pelletier, Saint Francesca Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, Blessed Pauline Jaricot, and Blessed Damien of Molokai. One who prays to Saint Philomena is in good company!

Honoured by the Popes

Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), and Saint Pius X (1903-1914) all sought Saint Philomena's intercession. Saint Pius X erected the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena on May 21, 1912. Saint Philomena seems to have been given to the Church in modern times in response to the challenges that face her, and as an intercessor for those engaged in defending the "Splendour of the Truth" and the "Gospel of Life."

Friend of Children

The Archconfraternity has a children's section. Saint Philomena is a heavenly advocate of children, especially of those at risk. Dr. Mark Miravalle writes, "Because Philomena said yes to Christ and to His Kingdom, it is little wonder that Jesus is making her well known again as the Patroness of Purity, for the young people of the twenty-first century."



The cord of Saint Philomena, approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1884, remains a popular sacramental. Made of red and white cotton (the colours of martyrdom and purity), the cord is carried on one's person or worn about the waist. Those who wear the cord are encouraged to pray daily, "Dear Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us, so that through your powerful intercession, we may obtain that purity of spirit and of heart that leads to perfect Love of God. Amen."

A Thank You

A more personal note: when my dear fellow pilgrim to Knock Shrine,Mary Parady, was sorting through her mother, Cousin Marian Parady's things, she discovered a first class relic of Saint Philomena. The little saint has become a friend to Mary. Thank you, Saint Philomena!


+ Dear friend,

Wishing you a safe and restful journey to the land of our ancestors!
Please give your parents a big {{{hug}}} from us. I pray they are well.

When shall you return?

In love and prayer,
Barbara and Ed

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory