The Cord of Saint Philomena
The devotion to the Cord of Saint Philomena is the spontaneous result of the mercy of the faithful towards the Thaumaturgy. Its use was approved on 15 December 1883 by Pope Leo XIII, with the relevant indulgences.
In consideration of the countless graces received by intercession of the Saint, the desire of being under her powerful patronage blossomed. Everyone wanted to wear, in her honor, the blessed Cord in order to be protected in all the eventualities of life. The marvelous fruits of this devotion made her very famous.
The Saint Cure of Ars, who had many times experienced the Saint’s powers, loved seeing the faithful wearing the precious Cord and he would suggest this pious practice to everyone.
This pious devotion is a powerful aid not only to receive healings of the body, but in particular it is a defense against impure spirits. Regarding this, we wish to point out how the belts of some religious orders and the sacred parameters of the Mass are a symbol of chastity.
In this way, Saint Philomena will preserve, chaste and pure, safe from temptation, those who honour her virginal purity with this holy livery. Many steeped in the new rationalism of our days, find it hard to understand how a simple cord of thread can have the virtue of healing sickness of body and spirit. But these people are short on religious education, and do not realize that a Blessing from the Holy Church can deliver extraordinary virtues even to the simplest of souls. The hand of the blessing Priest, transmits to the substances healthy virtues for the body and the spirit, thanks to the merits of Jesus Christ’s Redemption.
Saint Ignazio of Loyola, in his Exercises, insists on the necessity of having at heart all the observances approved by the Church, even if originated by popular devotions.
Therefore, if the Church approves the devotion of the Blessed Cords in honor of the Saints, we can be sure, in practicing it, to be in right Faith and to accomplish meritorious actions.
The Cord of Saint Philomena is made with threads of cotton or wool of white and red colour. In one of the extremities it has two knots to remember the Virginity and Martyrdom of the Saint. This is worn under ordinary clothes like a belt.
The Cord of Saint Philomena is both a Symbol and a Prayer. A Symbol, because with it we wish to tie ourselves with the Saint with sincere devotion; a Prayer, because, holding it, we pray Saint Philomena to constantly offer us her protection.
Purpose of this devotion is therefore to obtain, by intercession of Saint Philomena, the effective means to:
• preserve chastity, everyone according to their state;
• fight the constantly increasing disbelief and strengthen oneself in faith and spirit;
• profess a constant and a particular love to the Saint Thaumaturge, in order to merit her favours in the fight against sickness of the body and soul.
The practise of the Cord is accomplished by:
• carrying with devotion the blessed Cord as a distinctive sign of the commitment taken, under the auspices of Saint Philomena and in her honor, to preserve the sacred purity and to defend the Faith;
• applying ourselves in prayer, in imitation of Saint Philomena’s model of chastity and Faith, to preserve one and the other, for the merit of her constancy in bearing the martyrdom;
• avoiding with great care all the dangerous situations regarding chastity, avoiding rigorously books and shows capable of staining purity, and of darkening the sacred light of the Faith;
• solemnizing the feast of Saint Philomena, receiving the Sacred Sacraments in those days, and that is: on the 10th of January, recurrence of her birth; the 25th of May, recurrence of the finding of her precious Body; the 10th of August, recurrence of her glorious death, and of the translation of the Body to Mugnano del Cardinale; the 13th of August, main feast of Saint Philomena, according to the decree of the High Pontiff;
• making the “Month of Saint Philomena,” from 1st of July to 10th of August, in memory of the 40 days that the Martyr spent in jail, according to the revelations made to Sister Marie Louise of Jesus;
• having the picture of Saint Philomena in our home, paying her a tribute of honour every day and, if possible, say the evening prayer, together, in front of her picture.
Any priest, authorized by the Rector of the Sanctuary, has the faculty to bless the Cord of Saint Philomena using the Roman Ritual formula. The people who wear the Cord of Saint Philomena normally recite every day the following prayer:
Prayer for those who wear the Cord
Oh Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, pray for us,
so that through your powerful intercession,
we may receive the purity of spirit and heart,
which leads to the perfect Love of God.
The Oil of St. Philomena
In 1805 when the Sacred Body of Saint Philomena was enshrine in Mugnano del Cardinale, it was the custom to burn an oil lamp in front of the body of a Martyr or Saint. As the word spread rapidly of this Virgin Martyr who had a arrived in Mugnano del Cardinale many people came to the church to pray.
One such woman was from a local town, full of faith in God, she dipped her finger in the oil lamp and anointed the eyelids of her blind child. To the astonishment of all present, the child’s sight was immediately restored. This miracle took place 8 days after her body arrived in Mugnano, August 18th 1805, and has been recorded as the first Miracle of the oil from the lamp which burns in front of the Sacred Body of St Philomena.
The tradition of the blessing of this oil, which is a sacramental of the Sanctuary of St. Philomena, has been handed down through generations. Each year in January, the local Bishop and the Rector of the Sanctuary participate in the blessing of the oil of Saint Philomena. Pilgrims come in procession to the Sanctuary, donating the oil, placing it in front of the Sacred Body, where it is then blessed and distributed worldwide in the familiar red container bearing the name of the Sanctuary. The Sacred oil is a sacramental and comes only from the Sanctuary of St. Philomena where her sacred Body rests. . This
Blessed Oil of St. Philomena, which may not be replicated outside the shrine, are provided to Official Archconfraternity Centres throughout the world for distribution to devotees who request it
The blessing with the Oil of St. Philomena as a devotion may be given by a priest as well as a lay devotee, as long as its use is within the prayerful intention of the Church as a sign of divine blessing and an expression of faith. The anointing may be given on the forehead and the following prayer may be recited.
Prayer to St. Philomena for use with her blessed oil
O St. Philomena,
Virginal bride of Jesus and daughter of Mary Immaculate,
As we bless ourselves with your holy oil,
we invoke your powerful intercession
for heroic purity of heart
and the perfection of Christian love.
May its use strengthen our souls and heal our bodies
according to God’s perfect will.
Dear St. Philomena, model of purity and icon of courage,
especially for the youth of today,
pray for us that God may grant to our hearts
a martyrs courage under persecution,
A holy purity of mind and body,
And a heroic love for Jesus,
our divine Lord and Master.
The Chaplet of Saint Philomena
The chaplet also known as the rosary or Little Crown of St. Philomena was founded by the Holy Curé of Ars and consits of red beads to signify Her martyrdom and white beads a token of Her Virginity and Purity.
This Rosary is one of the simplest ways of praying to the Saint. First the creed is recited on the Crucifix or medal of Saint Philomena to ask for the gift of Faith. Three Our Fathers on each of the white beads to thank the Blessed Trinity for the gifts given to the Holy Virgin, for in whose honour, laid down Her life. The red beads are thirteen in number and signify the 13 years our Martyr lived on earth and this prayer is recited on each bead:
Hail, O holy Saint Philomena, my dear patroness.
As my advocate with thy Divine Spouse,
intercede for me now and at the hour of my death.
Saint Philomena, beloved daughter of Jesus and Mary,
pray for us who have recourse to Thee.
This prayer may be substituted for 13 Hail Mary’s each followed by: Saint Philomena, pray for us!