Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Jesuit Suggested Filumena

In 1802 an inscription, with the first and last letters destroyed, was found in the catacombs which stood thus, lumena pax tecum fi. 
A Jesuit suggested that Fi should be put at the beginning of the sentence instead of the end, and by this remarkable trick, produced Filumena. 
Thereupon a devout artizan, a priest, and a nun, were all severally visited by visions of a virgin martyr, who told them the story of Diocletian's love for her, of her refusal, and subsequent martyrdom; and explained that, having once been called Lumena, she was baptized Filumena, which she explained as a daughter of light! Some human remains near the stone being dignified as relics of St. Filomena, she was presented to Mugnano; and, on the way, not only worked many miracles on her adorers, but actually repaired her own skeleton, and made her hair grow. 
So many wonders are said to have been worked by this phantom saint, the mere produce of a blundered inscription, that a book, printed at Paris in the year 1847, calls her ' La Thaumaturge du igme Steele,' and she is by far the most fashionable patroness in the Romish Church.
 Filomena abounds in Rome, encouraged by the example of a little Filomena, whose mosquito net was every night removed by the saint, who herself kept off the gnats. She is making her way in Spain; and it will not be the fault of the author of La TJianmaturge if Philomene is not as common in France. The likeness to Philomela farther inspired Longfellow with the fancy of writing a poem on Florence Nightingale, as St. Philomena, whence it is possible that the antiquaries of New Zealand, in the twenty-ninth century, will imagine St. Philomena, or Philomela, to be the heroine of the Crimean war.*
Link (here) to History of Christian Names

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