SACRAMENTALS AND DEVOTIONS IN HONOUR OF SAINT FILOMENA
The Cordon of St Philomena
The devotion of the Cordon of St Philomena is the spontaneous result of the piety of the faithful towards the Thaumaturge. Its use was approved in 1883 by Pope Leo XIII, who enriched it with precious indulgences in 1884. In view of the innumerable graces obtained through the Saint's intercession, the desire arose to place oneself under her powerful patronage. Everyone wanted to wear the blessed cord in her honour to be protected in all the necessities of life. The wonderful fruits of this devotion made it popular, spreading it throughout the world. The Holy Curé of Ars, who had so many times experienced the supernatural powers of the Saint, loved to see the faithful girding themselves with the precious Cord and recommended this pious practice to all. This beautiful devotion is of powerful help not only to obtain healings of the body, but especially to combat the spirit of impurity. In this regard, I note how the cords of certain religious and those of the sacred vestments of the Mass, are symbols of chastity. And so, Saint Philomena will preserve chaste and pure, in the midst of so many dangers, those who will honour, with this holy livery, her virginal purity.
Not a few, imbued with the neo-rationalism of our day, find it difficult to understand how a simple string of thread can have the virtue of healing infirmities of body and spirit. But these lack religious instruction, and do not understand that a Blessing of the Holy Church can impart extraordinary virtues to even the simplest elements. The hand of the Blessing Priest communicates to substances virtues that are salutary for body and spirit, by virtue of the merits of the Redemption of Jesus Christ. St Ignatius of Loyola, in his Exercises, insists much on the need to cherish all observances approved by the Church, even if they originate from popular devotions. Therefore, if the Church approves the devotion of the Blessed Cords in honour of the Saints, we can be sure, in practising it, that we are in the right Faith and performing meritorious deeds. St Philomena's Cord is made of red and white cotton or wool threads. At one end it bears two knots to commemorate the Virginity and Martyrdom of the Saint. It is worn under clothes like a belt. The Cord of St Philomena is both a Symbol and a Prayer. A Symbol, because with it we intend to bind ourselves to the Saint with sincere devotion; a Prayer, because, in girding it, we pray to Saint Philomena to constantly endow us with her protection.
a - The aim of this devotion is therefore to obtain, through the intercession of Saint Philomena, the effective means to - preserve chastity, each according to his state - combat ever-increasing unbelief, and strengthen themselves in spirit and in the Faith; - professing a constant and very special love to the Holy Thaumaturge, in order to merit her favours in the illnesses of soul and body.
b - The practice of the Cord is concretised in : - to wear with devotion the blessed Cord as a distinctive sign of the commitment one has taken, under the auspices of Saint Philomena and in her honour, to preserve holy purity and to defend the Faith; - apply oneself to pray, in imitation of Saint Philomena, model of chastity and of Faith, to preserve the one and the other, for the merit of her constancy in sustaining martyrdom;
- to flee with great care all occasions dangerous to chastity, strictly avoiding books and spectacles capable of tainting purity, and of blurring the holy light of Faith;
- to solemnise the feasts of Saint Philomena, approaching the Holy Sacraments on these days, namely: 10 January, the anniversary of her birth; 25 May, the anniversary of the discovery of her precious Body; 10 August, the anniversary of her glorious death, and of the translation of the Body to Mugnano del Cardinale; 13 August, the Principal Feast of Saint Philomena, according to the decree of the Supreme Pontiff; - to have the "Month of St Philomena", from 1st July to 10th August, in memory of the 40 days the Martyr spent in prison, according to the revelations made to Sister Maria Luisa of Jesus; - to have the image of St Philomena in one's own home, to pay her daily tribute of honour and, if possible, to say evening prayer in common before this image. Any priest, authorised by the Rector of the Sanctuary, is entitled to bless the Cordon of St. Philomena, using the formula of the Roman Ritual.
People who wear the Cordon of St Philomena, use to recite the following prayer every day:
O Saint Philomena Virgin and Martyr, pray for us that through your powerful intercession we may obtain that purity of spirit and heart which leads to the perfect love of God. Amen.
The Blessed Oil of Saint Philomena
How did this sacramental come about? The answer is very simple: on the octave of the translation of the relics of Saint Filomena to Mugnano del Cardinale, a woman from Avella dipped a finger in the oil of the lamp burning in front of the Saint's altar, anointing the eyelids of her blind child, who immediately regained sight to the amazement of those present. From that moment on, the Oil of St Philomena's Lamp was used as a sacramental, for bodily and spiritual benefit. Healings obtained through the use of this sacramental occur all the time. The Blessed Oil of St Philomena is offered every year during the celebration of the Feast of the Patronage of St Philomena, on the first Sunday after 10 January, to devotees from many regions of Italy and abroad. The blessed oil is used to fuel the votive lamp that burns, day and night, in front of the Saint's relics. The celebration is presided over by the Bishop, the Rector of the Sanctuary and is attended by many priests. The blessed oil of the Saint is placed in little red bottles bearing the official mark of the Sanctuary of Santa Filomena in Mugnano del Cardinale (Avellino) and is distributed worldwide to devotees who request it.
Only the oil blessed in the Mugnano Sanctuary during the celebration of the Saint's 'Feast of the Patronage' (first Sunday after 10 January) is the official sacramental.
In this regard, we would like to point out that the statement made by Father Paul O' Sullivan in his book "Saint Philomena - The Wonder Worker" on page 96 where it is written: "Oil taken from any burning lamp in front of the statue of Saint Philomena may be used" is incorrect. In fact, let it be clear that any oil from a burning lamp in front of a statue of the Saint in any devotional centre in the world is not considered official sacramental oil.
The purpose of this shrine directive is to maintain the spiritual union of devotees with the shrine where the sacred relics of St Philomena rest.
Blessed oil can be obtained by specific request to the Shrine or to centres authorised by the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena.