Also, it is a wonderful coincidence that the magazine, “Inside the Vatican” should have a large article about our Saint on the news stand the same week. Inside the magazine, there are lots of pictures and among other things, it reports about the great growth of the devotion world-wide to our Saint, estimating it to be around five million strong now. The Sanctuary wants to praise each of you in each Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena. This is truly a testament to all of the very hard work you do to spread the devotion of Saint Philomena around the world.
The results of three years of testing the tiles of her tomb and the blood found in her tomb were given, and an extensive book will be published soon. Those who are on our e-newsletter list will be notified when the publish date has been determined.
The conference was held in the historic San Silvester Basilica at the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome.
To give some historical perspective, on the occasion of the celebration of the first hundred years of the anniversary of the translation of the Sacred Relics of Saint Philomena from Rome to the Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale, a conference was held in Rome at the Basilica Putenziana.
The location of the second hundred year conference is significant because the Basilica is built over the Catacombs near the location of the Loculus where Philomena’s remains were discovered in 1802.
At this location, the earliest records note the cemetery of Priscilla as a repository for the brothers Felix and Phillip, two of seven brothers martyred during the persecution prior to the Edict of Milan (313 AD).
Pope Silvester (313-335) constructed a basilica placing the alter over their remains, a testimony to the importance of Pricilla as a sanctuary. Pope Silvester was buried there along with Pope Siracius (384-399), Pope Celestinus (422-432) and Pope Vigilius (537-555).
At the conference, the beauty and history as well as the spiritual significance of this location could be palpably felt by all who attended the conference.
Monsignor Giovanni Braschi, current Rector of the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena and guardian of her precious relics, gave the opening introduction, where he spoke of the first conference a hundred years ago and comparing it to this year’s conference.
At the first conference at the Basilica Putenziana, discussions involved archeological evidence which led to many misunderstandings about out our Saint. The present day conference successfully reported new information that will serve to correct those mistakes. Contemporary scientists, with modern technology at their disposal and with new exhaustive archeological studies of the tiles have produced new and more precise historical and scientific conclusions.
The first speaker, Dr. Carlo Lalli, a scientist at the Institute delle Pietre Dure di Firenze, gave a fascinating presentation on the exhaustive research he performed on the tiles and blood samples.
Professor Jos Jannsens, a Jesuit priest from the Universite Pontificia Georiana Rome, did a historical talk, from the religious viewpoint.
Father Peter Lennon speaking on the great devotees of Saint Philomena. New research has revealed that there are many more Saints than we previously knew about that have had deep devotions to Saint Philomena.
Richard Donley Fox, our webmaster, spoke on the amount of devotees and the volumes of hits the website has received since its inception.
Monsignor Braschi introduced the Universal Archconfraternities present. They included Scotland, United States, Aruba and the Ivory Coast. Lastly, each Archconfraternity was presented with a banner that was made by Michael Malley. Michael was supposed to be present at the conference but died unexpectedly the previous month. He worked very hard for many years for Saint Philomena in Scotland.
The last presentation done was Monsignor Braschi at which time he gave a commemorative 200th anniversary medallion to each person and Archconfraternity that has done special work for Saint Philomena
The celebration ended with a Holy Mass in honor of Saint Philomena, offered with five priests concelebrating.
Two hundred years ago Saint Philomena was placed in a special Altar at the Sanctuary, situated on the central left side as you walk into the Church. And from that moment she changed the lives of everyone who encountered her. Now, in these present days she touches the lives of many people worldwide and calls them to the Sanctuary in Mugnano del Cardinale.
Sadly, many devotees have reported to Monsignor Braschi "confusion stemming from the Saint Philomenan controversy. I have been Rector of the Sanctuary for over twenty years and I have worked to correct any confusion or misunderstandings surrounding Saint Philomena. Therefore, as Rector, I decided that the most effective solution was to devote myself to engage the best minds available in the scientific world today to find out the truth about our Saint. From the onset of this effort, I was prepared to accept the truth as final no matter what the results of the scientific research revealed. My desire was to settle the controversy once and for all to relieve any anxiety devotees may have about our Saint."
We announced the results of the new and exhaustive scientific research at the Conference of the New Philomenian Studies on April 9, 2005, at the Catacombs of St. Pricilla in Rome, where the tomb of Saint Philomena was discovered in 1802.
There are two main parts of this investigation; the first is that of the tomb stones. They tell the story of the person buried there with specific symbols depicting the history of the sufferings and the death which occurred along with the name of the person.
The controversy was initiated when the case of Saint Philomena was discussed and argued in the beginning of the 20th Century: using scientific methods only available in his time, the archaeologist Orazio Marucchi stated the theory that the tomb stones had been sealed more than once, which would have meant they were re-used.
Additionally, he postulated that the reason the order of the first and last tomb stone were reversed is because the tomb had been opened and then resealed.
The present-day scientific investigations using modern and technically advanced equipment has demonstrated clearly that the tomb stones were only sealed once.
More importantly, with these modern techniques, they are dated 202 A.D., which means that Saint Philomena is an earlier Martyr of the Church than first thought.
With the new scientific results of the tomb stones which originally were placed in the wrong order now have an explanation; With powerful modern tools a closer and more detailed examination of the three tiles revealed a surprise that no one previously had realized.
At the time of her burial, there where originally two tomb stones, but three were needed to completely close the tomb. The larger of the two stones was cut horizontally in half resulting in two separate stones out of it, which made the required three in total. The now three tiles were laid out and the inscription was applied across the total of them, PAXTE - CUMFI - LUMENA. Each of the three tiles had a portion of the message the first stone had, PAXTE, the second stone had CUMFI and the third stone, LUMENA.
After having done this, the mason worker realized that the tomb was taller at one end than the other. The stones were reversed to move the wider stone to the wider opening to accommodate the wider opening. Therefore, in order for the stones to be placed to properly fit the opening, it resulted in reversing the three sections of the inscription to the following order: LUMENA - PAXTE - CUMFI, placing the last original stone in the place of the first one, which by doing this, meant that the words on them were put in the wrong order.
The second part of the results of the new scientific investigation was regarding the glass vase which was found in the tomb with the Relics of Saint Philomena. It has been scientifically proven now to have blood in it and to our surprise a small fragment of bone was also found in it. This new discovery indicates that Saint Philomena did have a violent death.
Monsignor Braschi sought to find the truth, again, regardless of the results, and happily, "I am able to report now that the results dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may have existed before about Saint Philomena."
All the representatives of the worldwide Universal Archconfraternity centers of Saint Philomena will receive a full transcript of the conference and scientific results soon.
They also have a full detailed list of the events which will be held at the Sanctuary for this special anniversary year.