Friday, May 20, 2011


Daughter of Light

St Philomena was a teenager who devoted her life to serving God.  She risked her life to stay true to her pledge of virginity, even though she angered the Roman Emperor.  She stood strong in her love for Jesus at the cost of her life.

St Philomena's parents were prince and princesses who ruled a small kingdom in Greece.  They were originally pagans, until the palace doctor, Publius, a devout Christian, taught them about Jesus' incomparable love and mercy.  They listened with awe and amazement.  They were soon baptized and became part of the Church.  Shortly after, God blessed them with a baby girl.  They called her Filumena (meaning daughter of light) because she was born to them with the light of faith.

When Filumena was 8, she promised her soul and virginity to Jesus.  However, when she was 13, she and her parents went to Rome.   The Roman Emperor was going to declare war on their little kingdom, so Filumena's father wanted to plead for peace.  The prince spoke so well to the Roman Emperor and Filumena was very proud of her father.  The Emperor, who already had a spouse, said that both kingdoms would be at peace if Filumena would be his wife.  She refused.  The Emperor tried so many things to win her such as promising her riches and power, and even being cruel and threatening her.  Although she was tortured, she did not give in.

The first torment Filumena went through was that she was lashed and whipped so cruelly, then imprisoned.  This reminded her that Jesus was thrown into prison after being scourged, and that St Peter was imprisoned for his love for Jesus.  This comforted her.  She did not stop praying to Jesus for strength, courage and faith.  Inside her cell, angels appeared and poured balm over her wounds and healed her.  And the Queen of Heaven appeared to Filumena and entrusted her to St Gabriel's care.

Next, Filumena was thrown into a river while tied to a heavy anchor.  She was seen by all being lifted out of the water by angels onto dry land.

After this unsuccessful attempt, Filumena was shot at with arrows. The first time she was shot, she fell into a deep sleep, as a gift from God.  When she woke up, the soldiers brought her to the Emperor who accused her of being a magician; and ordered her death with sharper-pointed arrows.  When the archers shot at Filumena, the arrows did not fly.  Then the Emperor ordered more arrows to be heated red-hot and aimed at Filumena's heart.  This time the arrows flew.  However halfway to Filumena, they sharply turned back to the archers and killed them, except for a few who later converted to Christianity.

Finally, out of frustration and rage, the Emperor grabbed a lance and pierced Filumena's neck.  This act killed her, she died at 14.  And her soul ascended straight to Heaven to meet Jesus, her spouse!

What a great model is Filumena in living our lives according to God's will, even it if costs us our life.  She resisted the temptation to sin and offend God by breaking her vow of virginity.  She serves as a good example of self-sacrifice because she gave up her life in order to save her purity. 

Filumena's life story was not a popular one because she lived in the 3rd Century and her grave was discovered by accident.  She is believed to have appeared to 3 individuals who spread her life story and inspired devotions to the young martyr.  After this, so many people reported that their prayers were answered with her intercession.  Even St John Marie Vianney reported to have witnessed a miracle which happened with Filumena's intercession, and built a shrine dedicated to her in his parish church at Ars.  This is why Filumena came to be known as the "Wonderworker of the 19th Century."  Later on, the name Filumena was changed to "Philomena" because of the prayers she lovingly answered.  ("Philo" means loving.)

St Philomena was canonized in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI, and she is the first saint in the history of the Church who was canonized only on the basis of her powerful intercession.  The Church celebrates her feastday on August 11.

St Philomena, spouse of Jesus, pray for us!

(Creative Writing,
Grade 5,
2011, Term 2, Week 3)