Thursday, February 7, 2013

What a Saint!!!

In my previous post I shared the story of St. Philomena and how my friend and I were making a pilgrimage to pray to St. Philomena on behalf of her daughter who has been very ill, in great pain and very often bed-ridden for the past few months.  Although our original plan was to travel to Briggsville, Wisconsin to the Shrine of St. Philomena, a winter snowstorm prevented us from making the two hour drive so we settled for a hometown pilgrimage instead.

The snow was softly falling outside as we began our day with a leisurely breakfast and the opportunity to catch up on all of the current news in our lives.  My friend spoke about her excitement over the fact that at that very moment there was a group of pilgrims praying for her daughter at the St. Philomena Shrine in Italy.   Before we left the restaurant I heard a loud knocking noise which I explained away as the kitchen staff working noisily.  But, at the same time that I became aware of the knocking sound, my friend received  a text message from her daughter saying, "I feel fantastic!"  My friend could not remember the last time she had  heard her teenage daughter express anything but pain.  We believed that the prayers of the pilgrims in Italy were already working.

Old St. Mary's

After lunch we went to Old St. Mary's in downtown Milwaukee for the noon Mass.  Old St. Mary's is one of the original fourteen churches that was built in the city of Milwaukee and is the only one of those fourteen that is still standing in it's nearly original glory.  The snow was falling heavier now and we were feeling grateful that we didn't make that two hour drive to the Shrine even though we had both wanted to go there so badly.  As we entered the church and  knelt down to pray we both heard a loud knock.  It was unmistakable in the silence of the church.  In the back of my mind I thought it might have been a noisy furnace, but still, it was most definitely a knocking sound so I told my practical mind to quiet down and gave the credit for the knock to St. Philomena.  After a lovely Mass and some time spent praying, lighting candles and admiring the beautiful Stations of the Cross, we decided we had better get a move on to our next destination-The St. Joseph Chapel inside the School Sisters of St. Francis Convent.

St. Joseph Chapel

We drove across town and found that the streets were much more slippery than they had been when we arrived at Old St. Mary's.  We were more grateful than ever that we stayed close to home.  As we entered the chapel we found the sacristan near the altar.  We were close to a large reliquary about the size of a treasure chest under a side altar and I asked the sister who was sacristan about whose relics were within it.  She told us that the reliquary contained the entire skeleton of St. Leo.  She pointed out the relic behind it of the True Cross of Christ and shared some of the history of the chapel with us about the sources of the marble, the mosaics, the stained glass windows and the stations of the cross.  I told her that I had always wanted to go up to the balcony and asked her if it was possible.  She told us that we could access the staircase in the priest's sacristy and that we were welcome to explore the balcony.  Knowing that St. Joseph's chapel has many relics within it, I asked her if she knew whether or not there might be a relic of St. Philomena there.  She answered that there most definitely would be a St. Philomena relic there and that there was a small chapel in the balcony right above the priest's sacristy that contained thousands of relics.  The sacristan said that it would be awfully hard to find her particular relic considering the fact that there were so many which were above reach and the print was so small it would be hard to read, but she wished us luck in our search and she then excused herself so she could attend choir practice.

reliquary chapel

reliquary chapel

reliquary chapel with catalogue on altar

reliquary chapel

My friend and I had only intended to pray in the adoration chapel but now we excitedly headed for the priest's sacristy first so we could find the reliquary chapel!  When we walked inside the door we were astonished at the amount of relics within the chapel!  After looking for a while, my friend said that there must be a catalogue of relics somewhere. Then she glanced at the altar and sure enough, there was a shoe box filled with alphabetized index cards.  She found one with St. Philomena's name on it that described her relic as being one in a case of eighteen.  Even with that description we still felt as though we were looking for a needle in a haystack.  I began to pray to St. Philomena asking her to knock again if we were getting close and to please help us to find her relic.  Nothing-no knock, no relic.  We decided to take a break and explore the rest of the balcony.

When we came back she was determined to count the relics in each case looking for the one containing eighteen.  Suddenly she gasped, "Here she is!!!"  The St. Philomena relic was hidden in the very bottom right hand corner of a large case.

the case with St. Philomena's relic-she's hidden behind the crucifix on the bottom right

The V.M. stands for Virgin Martyr

After finding her relic, our time in adoration was filled with prayers of gratitude.  We  were so happy that even though we weren't able to travel to the St. Philomena Shrine in Briggville, we really didn't miss a thing since our day was filled with prayers to St. Philomena, the sound of knocking, a positive message from her daughter, safe travels and best of all the discovery of St. Philomena's relic right here in our hometown!  After we made the short but treacherous ride home, my friend wrote to say that her daughter had four hours without pain.  Could it be a miracle?  I would say most definitely and if you were to ask me if I believed that St. Philomena really is powerful with God as so many claim, my answer would be "You bet she is!"  What a saint!!!


  1. Wow Anne! What a fantastic testimony! I can't believe all the relics this church has. What a happy day for you and your friend! Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. WOW, that is truly SOME Saint! I would have loved to have been with you making that awesome discovery...What a beautiful pilgrimage you made, right there in your own snowy city! I just love stories like this so thanks for sharing, Anne:)

  3. I've driven by Old St Mary's a zillion times without stopping in ... I'm going to have to make a point of it ...

  4. What a saint, indeed. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Thank you thank you thank you...that is all I can say. Many prayers to Laura and I have faith she will be healed... amazing. thank you!