In 1802 the remains of a young woman were found in the
catacomb of St. Priscilla on the Via Salaria. It was covered by
stones, the symbols on which indicated that the body was a martyr
named St. Philomena. The bones were exhumed, cataloged, and
effectively forgotten since there was so little known about the
person. In 1805 Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, Italy was in
the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity
(Treasury of Relics) in the Vatican. When he reached the relics of
St. Philomena he was suddenly struck with a spiritual joy, and
requested that he be allowed to enshrine them in a chapel in
Mugnano. After some disagreements, settled by the cure of Canon
Francis following prayers to Philomena, he was allowed to
translate the relics to Mugnano. Miracles began to be reported at
the shrine including cures of cancer, healing of wounds, and the
Miracle of Mugnano in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was
cured of a severe heart ailment overnight. Philomena became the
only person recognized as a Saint solely on the basis of
miraculous intercession as nothing historical was known of her
except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom.
Pope Leo XII granted permission for the erection of altars and
churches in her honor. Pope Gregory XVI authorized her public
veneration and named her patroness of the Living Rosary. The
cure of Pope Pius IX, while archbishop of Imola, was attributed to
Philomena; in 1849, he named her patroness of the Children of
Mary. Pope Leo XIII approved the Confraternity of Saint
Philomena and raised it to an Archconfraternity. Pope Pius X
raised the Archconfraternity to a Universal Archconfraternity, and
named St. John Vianney its patron. St. John Vianney himself
called Philomena the New Light of the Church Militant and had a
strong and well-known devotion to her. Others with known
devotion to her include St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Euphrasia
Pelletier, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, St. John Nepomucene
Neumann, St. Madeline Sophie Barat, St. Peter Chanel, Blessed
Peter Julian Eymard, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, and Venerable
Pauline Jaricot.