In 1802, a team of excavators down in the Roman catacombs made a remarkable discovery. In the catacomb of Saint Priscilla, among many other tombs which lay empty, the preserved tomb of a Christian Martyr is uncovered. This would later become known as the tomb of Saint Philomena.
As excitement spreads throughout the team, they find 3 terracotta slabs with inscriptions that claim to personify the person within.
The 3 tiles were inscribed with the words PAXTE, CUMFI, LUMENA, which reads “Peace be with you, Filumena”. However upon first glance, the words appeared to be in the wrong order, they first read FUMENA PAXTE CUMFI and made little sense, but when moved the words became clear. This could have easily been a mistake during a rushed burial process. Symbols were also inscribed, a Lily, Anchor, Palm and arrows. These symbols refer to virginity and martyrdom.
Authorities excavated the tomb, and found bones and a vial of dried blood, which confirmed that the person the bones belonged to, had indeed been a martyr. The bones were later found to belong to someone within the age range of 13 to 15.
Along with the bones which were discovered, the story of an incredible Saint would be known to the world, leading to a much greater discovery than first anticipated. A 13 year old Greek princess named Philomena, who underwent immense persecution and eventually execution for her devout faith and love for Christ.
The discovery of the tomb of Saint Philomena was momentous, but her journey was unfinished. Her bones were first taken to the treasury of sacred relics, to be stored safely.
In the year 1805, a priest from Mugnano, about 20 miles northeast of Naples, requested that the remains be transferred to his Church. The remains revitalized the faith of the people in Mugnano again, and as people took to the streets to welcome the Saint, miracles upon her arrival began to take place immediately.
After so many miracles among the village people had taken place, the parish had become a place of pilgrimage, and due to the amount of miracles which Saint Philomena had become attributed to, she was declared a Saint by Pope Gregory XVI.
The remarkable story of Saint Philomena has inspired other great saints and Christians around the world, both past and present. She has become known as a miracle worker, and has found favor among Christians today, as she grows in popularity.