About 20 miles Northeast of Naples at Mugnano del Cardinale you will find the body of one of the most popular saints today: Saint Philomena. Known as a miracle worker, her story is lost in history and we will probably never know the exact details, but what we do know is inspiring.
What makes this story so interesting is that three separate people (who did not know each other) in different parts of the world began receiving details of the historical background of Saint Philomena through various modes of private revelation. The most significant were locutions received by Sr. Luisa di Gesu in August of 1833. She revealed in her vision that at age 13 the emperor Diocletian wished to marry her and when she refused was subject to all manners of torture but never relented.
In 1802, workers in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome discovered a tomb with three terra-cotta slabs reading PAXTE; CUMFI; LUMENA which means "Peace Be With You, Filumena." The slabs were marked with a lily, arrows, an anchor and a palm, indicating virginity and martyrdom. Inside were the remains of a girl of about thirteen years of age, along with a vial of her dried blood which signified that this was indeed a Martyr.
Her remains were kept in Rome until 1805 when a priest from Mangnao asked for permission to bring them to his parish. At this time in history there was much dissension in the air and people were openly rejecting Church teachings. When the remains were brought to the village church at Mugnano, graces, favors and miracles began to occur among the village people and in the nearby vicinity. Miracles continued to occur year after year and in 1837, Pope Gregory XVI elevated Philomena to Sainthood. Declaring her a saint was unusual in that sainthood her sainthood there were no historical records other than her remains and reports of special favors and miracles which were granted through her intercession.
Today she is still considered a miracle worker and is more popular than ever. There are many shrines erected to her throughout the world. Among the many saints with a devotion to her was Saint John Vianney (the Curé of Ars), and he encouraged his parishioners to pray to her and seek her intercession. He had a shrine put into his church where people would go and pray in front of her statue for her intercession. In 1961 she was taken off the Church calendar and this led to some confusion. By removing her from the calendar the Church was not saying that she was not a saint nor did it forbid devotion to her. She is still revered as a powerful intercessor and is Patroness of Hopeless Cases, Expectant Mothers and Young People and a list that is quite long.
Some tour groups include Mugnano, especially if it is a group or parish bearing the name Saint Philomena.
There is no train service to Mugnano del Cardinale, so if you are traveling by train you can go as far as Naples and from the Naples station you take the Blue Bus as far Baiano and take a taxi from there. It is only about 2 miles from Baiano to Mugnano del Cardinale.
There are several festivals at the Sanctuary each year in honor of Saint Philomena:
January 10 (her birthday)
Second Sunday of January (feast of the Patronage & annual blessing of the oil by the Bishop)
May 25 (discovery of the body of St. Philomena) with Solemn Mass at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
June 2 (Feast of Saint Anthony)
Second Sunday of July (Feast celebration of Our Lady of Grace).
August (Saint Philomena Feast Celebrations all month) Check the official website for detail.
There is also an excellent gift shop open daily.
Information and photos courtesy of Msgr. Giovanni Braschi, Rector Saint Philomena Shrine