Taking a tour of the Altars of the Sanctuary, the centuries of prayer and
The church was built 1580-1600 in honor of Our Lady of Grace. Her statue is
situated above the high altar and dates back to around 1750, the face of Our
Lady and the Baby Jesus has never been restored. The ceiling of the church
depicts the story of Our Lady, which has been restored in 1717 and again in
1995. The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena, Virgin Martyr and Wonder-worker, was
following the translation of her sacred relics in 1805. From the very beginning
the Sanctuary became a place of pilgrimage. Devotees of the Saint flocked to
this shrine in order to pray before her relics. Wonders and miracles became the
order of the day! Saints and Blessed, Kings and Queens, Princes and paupers came
to invoke the great Wonder-Worker. Saint Philomena’s most illustrious pilgrim
was Pope Blessed Pius IX, who celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at her
Altar on November 7, 1849. The Ven. Pauline Jaricot, founder of the Society for
the Propagation of the Faith, came on pilgrimage in 1835 and was cured of a
fatal illness while at the Shrine. A 30-year restoration program was begun by
the present Rector, Msgr. Giovanni Braschi, the beautiful Sanctuary Church been
sympathetically redecorated, a comfortable pilgrimage centre has also been
created for the spiritual life of the Sanctuary. It is now able to provide
accommodation for devotees who wish to spend some time at the feet of Saint
The construction of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena or the church of Santa
Maria delle Grazie was begun in 1617 and completed around 1630 thanks to funds
raised from cutting the woods of Vallicelle.
he church was built in the shape of a Latin cross with a nave, an elegant dome,
Renaissance style and an altar adorned with precious and rare marbles.
On the eastern side there was a bell tower 50 meters high that on top had a dome
with a bronze ball topped with a flag and a cross. On 30th May 1673 the tower
was struck by lightning and collapsed damaging the church. It was rebuilt in a
manner faithful with the support of the population. In the mid-eighteen century
two bell towers were inserted. The facade is covered with stucco of color yellow
and flanked by two towers: one for the clock, the other for the bell. The
architecture is neoclassical with Ionic and Corinthian capitals.
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the early 1800s becomes the Sanctuary
of Saint Philomena. The body of the Saint, found in Rome on 25th May 1802, was
brought to Mugnano by the priest Don Francesco de Lucia on 10th August 1805. Don
Francesco de Lucia was the first rector of the Sanctuary, who founded and
extended the devotion of Saint Philomena in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies and
across the ocean to the Americas.
Great personalities have visited the shrine by rich gifts: the Cardinal
Ruffo-Cilla of Naples, Leone XII, Pope Gregory XVI, Pius IX who made a
pilgrimage accompanied by King Ferdinand II on 7th November 1849, Pauline
Jaricott (founder of the Pontifical Missionary Works) miracle by Saint Philomena
in Mugnano on 10th August 1835, the Saint Cure of Ars, Maria Cristina of Savoy,
wife of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, Leone XIII.
Among the devoted and promoters of the cult of St. Philomena popes there were
Leone XII and Leone XVI after the miracle of Pauline Jaricott, which took place
before the altar of St. Philomena on 10th August 1835, made the official cult of
the saint in all the church; Leo XIII promulgator of the universal
Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena, St. Pius X, a great devotee who enriched
the Sanctuary of fine gifts. The nobility in memory of the sanctuary was
constituted by the major principles ( churches, glass window, statues) in
Altars to the Right of the Church
Chapel of St. Anthony – the statue dates back to around 1750. Annually his
feast is celebrated in the town in June. The festa dates back to before the body
of Saint Philomena arrived at this church.
Chapel of the Tomb of Saint Philomena – these are the original tiles from the
tomb of Saint Philomena discovered in the catacombs of St. Pricilla in 1802.
Donated to the Sanctuary by Pope Leo XII. The picture above this altar is of the
martyrdom of Saint Philomena. It was painted in the Royal Palace of Casserta in
1859 by Gabriella Burboni.
Chapel of St Rose of Lima and St. Catherine of Alexandria the picture dates
back to 1550 approx.
4. Bronze sculptor of Saint Philomena – created in 2005 to commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the translation of the sacred body.
5. Entrance to the Sacristy – which was restored 2002 though the donated by the
1st group Battenti and the Paulo Corbisiero & Antonietta Braschi
6. Entrance to the Pilgrims House
7. Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue – from around 1896, this statue has never been
Altars to the Left of the Church
1. The tomb of Don Francesco de Lucia - the first Rector of the Sanctuary born
in the town and first devotee of St. Philomena. His work was honored by the
privilege of being buried within the Sanctuary. His tomb was restored in 2005
and the bronze bust put above in his memory.
2. Crucifix Chapel – the chapel of confession. This was created by the present
Rector, Msg. Braschi as a spiritual place of reflection and reconciliation. The
confessional booths are from 1974. The Crucifix dates back to the 1600’s. This
was discovered by Msgr. Braschi in the Sanctuary and had been badly handled.
Luigi Falco restored to its natural state this and had it analyzed and dated in
Milan. The Altar is made up of three pieces of marble: 1600, 1700, and 1800.
Found within the Sanctuary. Left in this chapel is a “Lapide” a piece of marble
with historical information regarding the devotion. Stained glass window was
donated by the Archconfraternity center in Scotland. Outside of this chapel
situated above the doors is a statue of St. Joseph from 1700’s which was
restored in 2002. To the right of the entrance is St Blasé dating back to 1750
and was restored in 1986.
3. St. Philomena Scared Altar - 10th August 1805. This is the new altar (not the
original) which was donated 1877 by the people of France headed by Mr Garrigou
at the time of Fr Luis Petit who founded the confraternity in France. The oil
lamp was initiated at the time Saint Philomena was enshrined. Within the Urn is the
paper mache statue of Saint Philomena within this is the full body of St.
Philomena. Looking toward this to the bottom left is the vial of dried blood
situated with the cement and halved. Just in front of this altar is where Ven.
Pauling Jaricot sat when she was miraculously healed.
4. Miraculous Altar - this is the original altar of Saint Philomena chapel. It
was moved in 1875 for the construction of a new and more elaborate altar. This
is known as the miraculous altar because as it was being put in place it cracked
into two separate pieces. However the work carried on and as the sculptor put
the altar in place the two pieces sealed together in front of the workmen who
were gather in front. When in its original position, at this Altar many
Cardinals and Bishops celebrated mass including Pope Pius IX.
5. Statue of St. John Vianney & St. Philomena – Paper mache statue from a famous
school of art in Lece, Southern Italy in 1890. The sanctuary order this work
done to demonstrate the great love and devotion that St. John Vianney has for
our Saint. Through him bore the devotion of the cord. He attributed many
miracles in his church to Saint Philomena.
6. St. Ann with her daughter Mary as a child – donation in 2003 by the family
Dr. Elvira Vasta and the statue dates back to 1896 approximately.
7. Saints & Martyrs Reliquary – Dates back to 1700. An antique collection of
relics of various saints and martyrs. The most famous is St John Vianney. A
reliquary has been artistically constructed and created by the artist Gennaro
8. Miraculous Statue of St. Philomena – In 1806 Cardinal Louis Ruffo Scilla
(1750-1832), Archbishop of Naples (1802-1832), donated a wooden statue of Saint
Philomena to the Sanctuary containing in its chest cavity a reliquary which
enclosed a small bone particle belonging to the Martyr, as reported by Ippolito.
This statue is brought every year in procession through the streets of Mugnano,
on the second Sunday of August. On August 10, 1823, during the procession, the
statue became heavier. The next day, the statue sweated fragrant “manna” for
three consecutive days. Regarding this, there are two public records; one signed
by the Vicar Foraneo and by 17 priests of the clergy of Mugnano, the other by
the Mayor, the Chancellor, and from the Members of the Council. These records
were deposited in the municipal archive and in Our Lady of Grace Church in
Mugnano. In memory of this, a marble inscription was placed in the Church of Our
Lady of Grace. The archway of this statue was restored in 2005 and donated by
the Beniamino Scettino
9. St. Pio of Pedricesimo – commissioned and donated to the Sanctuary by Sister Bertilla (1934 – 2011). Who dedicated 25 years of continuous service to the
Sanctuary and the devotion of St. Philomena. Through her loyal service the
Sanctuary became home to devotees worldwide, a pilgrims rest of the weary where
they knew she would take care of them.
The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena Needs your support
God has allowed the Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale to be safe from rain
storms once again. Saint Philomena’s devotees and others who love the Sanctuary
sent almost enough money to repair the dome of this beautiful example of
devotion to Our Lady. The Blessed Mother’s story is painted on the wooden
ceiling and the statue of Our Lady of Grace is situated above the high altar.
For thousands of devotees this is such a very special church because within it
rest the sacred remains of our Dear Little Saint, Philomena. Those fortunate
enough to visit soon understand the strong spiritual presence held within.
Major repair to the dome has now been completed, but the contractors finished
their expert work with only our word that the final payments would be
forthcoming. So we must ask once again for help. With continuous restoration
required in the Sanctuary along with the monthly outlay for general upkeep we
don’t have enough to add this final amount. Donations came in from those who
want Saint Philomena’s resting place to remain an eternal refuge. It is our
mission to see that it remains just that.
We also must protect the many wonderful artifacts: the miraculous statue of
Saint Philomena; the tiles from her tomb in the catacombs of Priscilla; Ven.
Pauline Jaricot’s chair – where she sat as she was miraculously cured; the altar
of Saint Philomena, which broke into two pieces and was miraculously joined
together; the oil lamp which burns in front the sacred body of Saint Philomena
and from which many miracles have been recorded.
Please be generous and support the earthly home of Saint Philomena wherein rests
her sacred body.
Support the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa If you can, please send a donation, offer prayers for the works of the Sanctuary and the Archconfraternity.
Tell people about them and spread the devotion to our favorite little saint.
We have many devotional items available to help support your prayer life:
statues, relic medals, cords, holy oil, books, prayer cards, and more. With
each purchase, you directly support the Sanctuary. You can view the various items and shop online at www.shopphilomena.com.
You may make a donation in any of the following ways -
- Direct to the Sanctuary:
- By personal check payable to the "Sanctuary of Saint Philomena." For security reasons, please send your donation through registered or express mail to the Sanctuary's address at the bottom of this newsletter.
- Online - Go to our Support Page,
- By bank transfer to the Sanctuary's Bank account:
SANTUARIO SANTA FILOMENA – fil n° 0007
BANK ACCOUNT: n° 1279013
SWIFT CODE: BPMOIT22
- U.S.A. Tax-Deductible Donations may be sent to the new non-profit set up in the United States:
- Online - Go to our Support Page,
- Postal mail donations can be made to:
Saint Philomena Sanctuary Support Fund, Inc.
P.O. Box 4114
Bergheim, Texas 78004, U.S.A.