For instance lets say there's a patron saint of infants, but that a recently canonized saint is clearly superior to the previous one when it comes to infants.

Is it not then warrented to make the previous saint step down to leave the place of patron saint to someone who is holier?

Catholics, Orthodox, some Anglicans and some Lutherans believe in patron saints. But considering that Catholicism has the most well defined grasp this doctrine I would prefer an answer which agrees with Catholic theology.

  • 1
    [St.] Philomena is no longer considered a saint or the patron saint of infants. See here for more details.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 12:10

4 Answers 4


Patron saints are not, in general, centrally designated by the Vatican. (St Thomas More is a notable exception. He was declared patron saint of statesmen and politicians by the motu proprio E Sancti Thomae Mori, issued by Pope St John Paul II in 2000.)

The Catholic Encyclopedia's article on patron saints discusses only patron saints of churches and locations. Nevertheless, what it says of these patron saints is true in general:

A patron is one who has been assigned by a venerable tradition, or chosen by election, as a special intercessor with God.

In other words, a saint is considered by the Church to be a patron saint of a particular cause, group of people, or situation simply because a sizable group of people, either in a single locality or more broadly through the Church, has decided to invoke their help for that purpose, and has done so for a long time. It's a very "organic" sort of process.

In the kind of situation you propose, what might happen is that a small group of people would venerate the second saint as the patron saint of infants, either along with or in place of the first. As the number of people invoking this saint's help grew, both saints might separately be considered the patron saint of infants. It isn't at all unusual to have multiple saints as patrons; for example, both St Valentine and St Dymphna are patron saints of people with epilepsy.

(There doesn't appear, by the way, to be a patron saint of infants, but there are three patron saints of children: St Nicholas of Myra, St Raymond Nonnatus, and St Nicholas of Tolentino.)

Finally, it's not necessarily the case, as you seem to imply, that saints who are invoked more often and produce many miracles are by that fact known to be "holier" in some sense. All saints are glad to intercede for us before God, Who chooses His responses at His Will. Even if a miracle, or the desired result, does not come about, God hears and responds. It is God, not the saint, who is responsible for any result, and it is God's decision, not the saint's holiness, that determines the response.

  • 1
    Matt I agree on the first part of your response but the second one seems weaker. You're saying that the holiness of the saints does not matter when it comes to doing miracles by their intercession. But that seems to contradict the CCC which says that saints bring their own merits to the treasury of merit. If those merits don't really matter for the purposes of intercession then whether on Earth or in Heaven we should expect an entierly arbitrary distribution of grace. Which is not the case. My view, on this second part, is that the intercessory power of the saint is cadered to his merits. Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 1:49
  • By the way, according to Catholic Online St.Philomena is the patron saint of infants. Although not formally canonized she remains present. Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 1:58
  • @des i think the chilrdren who were killed by herod in the bible may also be the patron saints of infants.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 2:36
  • 1
    @DestynationY Philomena was apparently never officially considered a saint of the Catholic Church: canonlawmadeeasy.com/2013/09/12/… I got my information on infancy patron saints from Catholic Online as well - did I miss something? As far as merits of the saints, why do you say that if those merits don't affect intercession then we'd expect an arbitrary distribution of grace? Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 10:38
  • 1
    @jongricafort The body was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century. At that point, the Church required a formal declaration of sainthood by the pope. The saint's name would then be written into the Roman Martyrology. There is no such name in the book, and I can find no mention of her official act of canonization. In 1961, her name was removed from the Universal Calendar. Commented May 5, 2019 at 17:42

Can Patron Saints be “dethroned”?

Validly canonized patron saints are never "dethroned".

This question is completely nuanced with several different questions being addressed in a single question.

  • Can Patron Saints be “dethroned”?
  • Can a patron saint be made to step down to leave the place of patron saint to someone who is holier?
  • Can a recently canonized patron saint who clearly superior to the previous one replace the former (when it comes to infants, for example)?

As a general rule, Rome is not in the habit of proposing patron saints for various countries, groups, associations or needs. Two notable exceptions to this are St. Thomas More and St. Francis Caracciolo. St. Thomas More is the patron saint of statesmen and politicians and St Francis Caracciolo was named the patron saint of Italian cooks by Pope John Paul II on March 22, 1996.

Another point I would like to make is that there is no need to dethrone a patron saint of any particular subject matter because one is more popular or has more merit before God. There are enough saints to go around to fit everyone personal devotion. For example, Catholic Saints Information lists 11 patron saints for fishing alone. Each and every one of us is free to choose which one we prefer. As for myself, I go with St. Peter the Apostle.

Patrons of fishermen

•Andrew the Apostle

•Anthony of Padua

•Benno of Meissen

•Budoc of Brittany

•Gundisalvus of Lagos

•Nicholas of Myra

•Our Lady of Mount Carmel

•Our Lady of Salambao

•Peter Gonzales

•Peter the Apostle

•Zeno of Verona

Amongst the saints in heaven praying for us there in no jealousy nor do we know which saint is truly superior to another. That is something God alone knows.

Amongst the six patron saints of infants, many Catholic websites and books will include Philomena. Again, Catholic Saints Information bares this out:

Patron saints of Infants:

•Brigid of Ireland

•Holy Innocents

•Liberata of Como

•Nicholas of Tolentino

•Philip of Zell


•Raymond Nonnatus

•Zeno of Verona

My devotion here goes with the Holy Innocents.

As I have already mentioned, many Catholics still have a devotion to [St.] Philomena The truth about this matter is that Philomena is not a recognized saint in the Catholic Church. Yet because many Catholics have a devotion to her, it creates a lot of confusion.

In a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, confirmed by the Pope on January 30, 1837, the feast of Saint Philomena was established as the eleventh of August. This was in fact not a canonization promulgated by Pope Gregory himself, as would be required by Pope Urban VIII's Cælestis Hierusalem Cives nor was it solemnly decreed as it was the Sacred Congegation of Rites that issued the decree and not the Sovereign Pontiff himself, even though Pope Gregory confirmed the decree.


In his book It Is Time to Meet St Philomena, Mark Miravalle says that Pope Gregory XVI "liturgically canonized St. Philomena, in an act of the ordinary Papal Magisterium". This contrasts with the usual view that canonization is an exercise of infallible magisterium declaring a truth that must be "definitively held".

The Roman Martyrology contains the names of all the saints who have been formally canonized, since "with the canonization of a new saint, that person is officially listed in the catalogue of saints, or Martyrology", and "as soon as the beatification or canonization event takes place, the person's name is technically part of the Roman Martyrology". It does not now contain and in fact never included the name of this Philomena, which can be seen to be absent in the 1856 edition published some twenty years after the 1837 decree.

Canonization is a ceremony of the highest solemnity, in which the Pope himself, invoking his supreme authority in the Church, declares that someone is a saint and inserts that person's name in the catalogue of saints. This ceremony has never taken place with regard to Saint Philomena. - Philomena (Wikpedia)

Pope St. John XIII suppressed her cult because she was never formally canonized and there is a great lack of historical evidence to support the existence of this person. [St.] Philomena was in fact never dethroned as a patron saint of infants because she was never an officially recognized saint in the Roman Rite. Please read the article: Why is Philomena no longer considered a saint.

  1. Ex his festis "devotionis" sequentia e calendariis expungantur, quae ut plurimum in aliis festis aut anni temporibus iam recoluntur, vel cum aliquo tantum loco particulari relationem habent, scilicet :

Festum autem S. Philumenae V. et M. (11 augusti) e quolibet calendario expungatur. - Acta Apostolicae Sedis

On February 14, 1961 the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued a liturgical directive removing St. Philomena's feast day, August 11th, from all liturgical calendars. See the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Page 174.

A saint without a date for his or her commemoration is unheard of in regards to the honour of the saints!

Even the Catholic Encyclopedia sheds light on the "non-martyrdom of [St.] Philomena":

On 25 May, 1802, during the quest for the graves of Roman martyrs in the Catacomb of Priscilla, a tomb was discovered and opened; as it contained a glass vessel it was assumed to be the grave of a martyr. The view, then erroneously entertained in Rome, that the presence of such vessels (supposed to have contained the martyr's blood) in a grave was a symbol of martyrdom, has been rejected in practice since the investigations of De Rossi (cf. Leclercq in "Dict. d.archéol. chrét. et de liturg.", s.v. Ampoules de sang). The remains found in the above-mentioned tomb were shown to be those of a young maiden, and, as the name Filumena was discovered on the earthenware slabs closing the grave, it was assumed that they were those of a virgin martyr named Philumena. On 8 June, 1805, the relics were translated to the church of Mugnano, Diocese of Nola (near Naples), and enshrined under one of its altars. In 1827 Leo XII presented the church with the three earthenware tiles, with the inscription, which may be seen in the church even today. On the basis of alleged revelations to a nun in Naples, and of an entirely fanciful and indefensible explanation of the allegorical paintings, which were found on the slabs beside the inscription, a canon of the church in Mugnano, named Di Lucia, composed a purely fictitious and romantic account of the supposed martyrdom of St. Philomena, who is not mentioned in any of the ancient sources. In consequence of the wonderful favours received in answer to prayer before the relics of the saint at Mugnano, devotion to them spread rapidly, and, after instituting investigations into the question, Gregory XVI appointed a special feast to be held on 9 September, "in honorem s. Philumenae virginis et martyris" (cf. the lessons of this feast in the Roman Breviary). The earthenware plates were fixed in front of the grave as follows: LUMENA PAX TECUM FI. The plates were evidently inserted in the wrong order, and the inscription should doubtless read PAX TECUM FILUMENA. The letters are painted on the plates with red paint, and the inscription belongs to the primitive class of epigraphical memorials in the Catacomb of Priscilla, thus, dating from about the middle or second half of the second century. The disarrangement of the inscription proves that it must have been completed before the plates were put into position, although in the numerous other examples of this kind in the same catacomb the inscription was added only after the grave had been closed. Consequently, since the disarrangement of the plates can scarcely be explained as arising from an error, Marucchi seems justified in concluding that the inscription and plates originally belonged to an earlier grave, and were later employed (now in the wrong order) to close another. Apart from the letters, the plates contain three arrows, either as a decoration or a punctuation, a leaf as decoration, two anchors, and a palm as the well-known Christian symbols. Neither these signs nor the glass vessel discovered in the grave can be regarded as a proof of martyrdom.

Philomena was not dethroned as a saint because Rome has never formerly canonized her as a saint. At least not yet. I doubt she ever will. Her cult was at one time permitted without due process and now is suppressed by Rome.


If in doubt check it out in the Index ac Status Causarum Beatificationis Servorum Dei et Canonizationis Beatorum The status of every person proposed for sainthood is in there. When cults of saints are suppressed, it will state why. It is however only in Latin. It will end all discussion if one can find a copy.

  • St.Philomena is a Canonized Saint as clear as the sun as the Feast Day of Her Holiness was celebrated for several decades. The Congregation of Rites united to the Pope can BIND anything here on earth and it is bound in Heaven, No future Pope can undo the Celebration of Holy Mass celebrating the Feast Day of St.Philomena. more so the finite understanding & confusions of any non-authoritative individuals to pronounce that St.Philomena is not canonized. A Pope can declare anyone a saint according the Holy Spirit inspirations and a Pope is not bound to a set of procedure in declaring a saint. Commented May 2, 2019 at 22:40
  • @jongricafort When was she canonized?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 1:05
  • Starting from 1837 up to 1961 and up to this time in places where Her relics was place.,it formally started when the Holy Mass was celebrated in honor of her holiness that rises as a sweet incense to the Throne of God. Can a liturgical mass offering be offered in error by the Congregation of Rites united to Pope Gregory XVI? Can the liturgical rites in honor of St.Phiomena instucted by the Pope enough to make her a Saint?YES. The Pope is not bound by set of procedures for sainthood.. Commented May 3, 2019 at 2:19
  • 1
    @jongricafort "Festum autem S. Philumenae V. et M. (11 augusti) e quolibet calendario expungatur." [Acta Apostolicae Sedis](Festum autem S. Philumenae V. et M. (11 augusti) e quolibet calendario expungatur.) Page 174.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 2:24
  • 1
    @jongricafort But she was never in the General Roman Calendar. Your own answer admits that.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 2:39

Can Patron Saints be “dethroned”?

The saints who are canonized cannot be dethroned as recognizing and proclaiming a saint is an infallible act of the Church united to the Supreme Pontiff.

Let's look at the Church history in proclaiming a saint;

History In the first five centuries of the Church, the process for recognizing a saint was based on public acclaim or the vox populi, vox Dei (voice of the people, voice of God). There was no formal canonical process as understood by today's standards. Beginning in the sixth century and continuing into the twelfth century, the intervention of the local bishop was required before someone could be canonized. The intervention of the local bishop usually began with a request from the local community for the bishop to recognize someone a saint. Upon studying the request and a written biography, if he found it favorable, the bishop would typically issue a decree, legitimatize the liturgical cult and thereby canonize the person.

Starting in the tenth century, a cause proceeded with the usual steps, i.e. the person's reputation would spread, a request to the local bishop from the people to declare the person a saint occurred, and a biography would be written for the bishop's review. Now however, the bishop would collect eyewitness testimony of those who knew the person and who had witnessed miracles, and he would provide a summary of the case to the Pope for his approval. The Pope then reviewed the cause, and if he approved it, he issued a decree declaring the person a canonized saint. The first documented case of papal invention is by Pope John XV on January 31, 993 for the canonization of St. Ulric. When Pope Sixtus V reorganized the Roman Curia in 1588 he established the Congregation for Sacred Rites. One of its functions was to assist the Pope with reviewing causes. Except for a few canonical developments, from 1588 the process of canonization remained the same until 1917 when a universal Code of Canon Law was promulgated.

The 1917 code contained 145 canons (cc. 1999- 2144) on causes of canonization, and mandated that an episcopal process and an apostolic process be conducted. The episcopal process consisted of the local bishop verifying the reputation of the person, ensuring that a biography existed, collecting eye witness testimony and the person's written works. All of this was then forwarded to the Congregation for Sacred Rites. The apostolic process consisted of reviewing the evidence submitted, collecting more evidence, studying the cause, investigating any alleged miracles and ultimately forwarding the cause to the Pope for his approval. This process remained in effect until 1983 with the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and new norms for causes of canonization: Divinus Perfectionis Magister, Normae Servandae in Inquisitionibus ab Episcopis Faciendis in Causis Sanctorum and Sanctorum Mater (2007). This revised process for causes of canonization is still in force and is detailed below.

No precise count exists of those who have been proclaimed saints since the first centuries. However, in 1988, to mark its 4th centenary, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints published the first "Index ac Status Causarum." This book and its subsequent supplements, written entirely in Latin, are considered the definitive index of all causes that have been presented to the Congregation since its institution. - Saints (USCCB)


For instance lets say there's a patron saint of infants, but that a recently canonized saint is clearly superior to the previous one when it comes to infants.

The simple answer is the Church does not make a saint but serve only as God instrument to proclaim and recognized who are the saints in God's eyes. The holiness of the saints can only be known to God as human has no faculties to determined who is much holier.The saints works in Communion with the Church and not thru competition.


Is it not then warrented to make the previous saint step down to leave the place of patron saint to someone who is holier?

Considering the lengthy process of the Church now employ in Canonizing the Saints, it would not be prudent for the Church to declare a Saint much holier as what if another Saint was discovered whose story is much more heroic, it would put the Church in a not good situation. Rather than entertaining the thoughts of a saint stepping down in favor of more a holier saint according to man's finite understanding. The faithful can invoke all the saints intercessions but the problem is one could not foster a strong devotion to a particular saint.

Other issues like St. Philomena's case and other saints not yet fully canonized;

The USCCB has the following introduction with regards to recognized Saint not officially canonized.

Introduction All Christians are called to be saints. Saints are persons in heaven (officially canonized or not), who lived vitreous lives in a heroic way or were martyred for the faith, and who are worthy of imitation.

In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: a candidate becomes "Venerable," then "Blessed" and then "Saint." Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the pope as having lived a heroically virtuous life. To be beatified and recognized as a Blessed, one miracle acquired through the candidate's intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue. Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification. The pope may waive these requirements. A miracle is not required prior to a martyr's beatification, but one is required before canonization. - Saints (USCCB)

Let's take a look at St.Philomena's case as the USCCB declared that "Saints are persons in heaven (officially canonized or not)".

St. Philomena was liturgically canonized on January 13,1837 as a local saint in Mugnano, Italy and Pope Gregory XVI allowed the public cultus of St. Philomena but officially does not solemnly canonized her, Why?

Pope Gregory XVI, on January 13, 1837, in a solemn decree based solely on power of her undeniable miracles, raised an unknown thirteen-year-old early martyr named Philomena to the altar of the Church, granting a Mass in her honor, and thereby giving official approval to public devotion to her. This liturgical honor constituted the only instance of a Proper office being granted to a saint from the catacombs of whom nothing is known except her name and the bare fact that she was martyred for the Faith. “Filumena” was now officially St. Philomena, a canonized saint of the Catholic Church. - It is Time to Meet St. Philomena

This is the wise judgment or prudence that Pope Gregory XVI had taken as he allowed St. Philomena veneration to stood the test of time and give the future Popes to take the necessary step if St. Philomena is worthy to become not just a local Saint but be recognize also as a Universal Saint.

The actions thru Magisterial decrees of the succeeding Popes elevated the glorious saint and wonder worker St.Philomena cult to Confraternity to Universal Archconfraternity.

The Popes of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The Holy Fathers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century manifested remarkable devotion to the young Princess Virgin-Martyr. For example:

Pope Leo XII granted permission for altars to be dedicated and chapels to be erected in her honor, calling her the “Great Saint”. Pope Gregory XVI called St. Philomena the “Thaumaturga,” the “wonder-worker” of the nineteenth century, and, as already mentioned, in 1837 he raised her to the “altar of the Church” with public devotion. He granted her a special feast (August 11) and also approved a Mass in her honor.

Blessed Pope Pius IX had an exemplary devotion to St. Philomena. While still a bishop, he went on pilgrimage several times to her tomb to offer Mass, and as Pope, he declared St. Philomena the “Patroness of the Children of Mary”.

Pope Leo XIII was another pope in the list of pontiffs who had a special love for St. Philomena. He also had a strong devotion to her before becoming Vicar of Christ. It was Leo XIII who commissioned the beginning of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena, and it was he who with an almost unprecedented generosity approved and granted an indulgence to the wearing of the “Cord of St. Philomena”. This cord, which we will discuss in more detail later, was colored white and red in honor of the virginity and martyrdom of St. Philomena, and was strongly promoted by St. John Vianney (to whom most historians attribute the origins of the Cord). Not only did Leo XIII grant a plenary indulgence for those who wore the cord for the first time, but he also granted a plenary indulgence for three liturgical times of the year associated with St. Philomena. Furthermore, a plenary indulgence was granted to those wearing of the Cord at the hour of their death.

In the twentieth century, Pope St. Pius X continued the strong papal tradition of veneration of St. Philomena. In 1905, on the occasion of the centenary of her arrival in Mugnano, he sent his gold ring to adorn the image of St. Philomena located over her tomb. In that same year, he beatified the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, who had such a primordial devotion to St. Philomena.

St. Pius X was also a great advocate of wearing the Cord of St. Philomena and declared, “all the decisions and declarations of his predecessors regarding St. Philomena should in no way be altered”. With this act he perpetuated devotion to St. Philomena for all times. Pius X also elevated the archconfraternity of St. Philomena to the status of a universal archconfraternity.

In sum, nineteen acts of the Holy See during the pontificates of five popes were issued in positive promotion of popular devotion to St. Philomena, in the forms of public liturgical veneration, archconfraternities, and plenary and partial indulgences. This succession of papal veneration and indulgences is arguably unprecedented in the pontifical granting of devotional privileges for any modern saint.

From the year 1837 to 1961 St. Philomena cult was venerated not just from Italy but it spreads all over the Universal Church.

St. Philomena was recognized and venerated as a local Saint in 1837 and wonderfully rise up to be recognized universally as a Saint.If we count the number of years of St.Philomena veneration before the Congregation of Rites issued a "liturgical directives" to remove her name in the liturgical calendar in 1961, it was already over 100 years that St.Philomena was venerated by the Catholic Church universally.

This is the wisdom of Pope Gregory XVI as he did not undermine the instruction and prohibition issued by Pope Urban VIII's Cælestis Hierusalem Cives not to immediately proclaim any saint by solemnly canonizing without the prescribed period of 100 years proven veneration. St. Philomena surpasses the 100 years prohibition and the 1961 liturgical directives technically has no hold over St. Philomena.

In closing, taking the statement of the USCCB that a "Saints is already a saint in heaven whether officially canonized or not" then St. Philomena and other unknown saints that the Church experienced difficulty in documenting their historical existence is not a hindrance for all the lay faithful to invoke their powerful intercession. And most especially in Heaven this saints are all glorious and cannot be dethroned.

  • The body was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century (1802). At that point, the Church required a formal declaration of sainthood by the pope. The saint's name would then be written into the Roman Martyrology. There is no such name in the book, and I can find no mention of her official act of canonization by the Pope himself and not simply the Congregation of Saints. From 1802 until 1837 is not 100 years, Pope Urban VIII's Cælestis Hierusalem Cives still holds.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 12:50
  • @Ken Graham What can you say about St. Pius X conferring the Universal Archconfraternity to St. Philomena's cult even grants partial and plenary indulgences on those who wear the cord of St. Philomena that he himself wear. Does St. Pius X committed error in granting indulgences to a non-saint and had led millions of devotees to venerate St. Philomena which according to your view is not yet a saint? Commented May 13, 2019 at 14:40

Can Patron Saints be “dethroned”?

Short Answer

Only the Pope have the canonical power to proclaim a pious souls into sainthood. But, no future pope more so an office like the Congregation of Sacred Rites who has no authority apart from the Supreme Pontiff can undo the canonization or decanonized any saint that was previously canonized or elevated into sainthood. A pope decanonizing or dethroning a saint would mean that the Church united to the Pope committed an error, this scenario never occurs in the 2000 Church history.

So, the absolute answer is NO! The Church in elevating and proclaiming a pious souls to sainthood cannot err.

The 2000 years Church Tradition states the Church united to the Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit it cannot err.

Explanation to support the No answer:

Are Popes bound to follow the normal canonical procedure issued by Congregations of Sacred Rites? The answer is No, the recent canonization of St. Mother Theresa and St. John Paul II does not follow the canonical procedure and many others.

Jesus gave Peter and only to Peter the Keys to His Kingdom and the power to bind anything. The Pope alone can bind anything in governing the Church of Christ as the Supreme Interpreter, Teacher and Guarantor of Faith.

"And I tell you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." (Matthew16:18-19)

To answer specifically your question, St Philomena's case is a good example to consider.

The answer above cited a link that was written by a Canon Lawyer and cited the Congregation of Sacred Rites directives of removing the names of St. Philomena in the liturgical calendar? Was this directives officially bears the approval of St.John XXIII who is the reigning pope in 1961?

Let's consider their ground for removing the feast of St. Philomena in the liturgical calendars; in the link provided by Ken Graham's answer.

  1. Thee article claimed that the Church does not canonized a Saint by a mere vision or dream as it requires a solid evidence of miracle. They forgot that Pope Gregory XVI is a personal witness to numerous miracle and one first class miracle is the miraculous healing of Pauline Marie Jaricot:

For thirty years miracles continued to increase in number at Mugnano, and the glory of the "Thaumaturga" (Wonder-worker) filled the Universe. Various appeals were addressed to the Holy See so that a feast day might be established, and an Office and Mass permitted in her honor.

In n 1835, Pauline Jaricot, foundress of the great French lay social institution in aid of the missions, Propagation of the Faith, and also foundress of the Association of the Living Rosary, and of other good works, was close to death. She suffered from a heart disease which had affected her health for some years and had left her suffering from frequent heart attacks. She had been unable to walk for the previous year and a quarter. The slow deterioration was leading to death. Doctors had given up on her case and deemed it hopeless.

Drawn by an irresistible attraction, she wanted to visit Rome and the Holy Father. When she arrived at Rome after a terrible journey, her state was such that she could not go to the Vatican, and it was the Holy Father who went to visit her in the convent of Trinita dei Monti. The young lady asked Pope Gregory XVI if he would approve the cult of Saint Filumena, if she was cured by the Saint.

"Surely, my child," replied the august Pontiff, **"for that would indeed be a first class miracle." This miracle indeed took place at the Sanctuary of Saint Filumena. On her return to Rome, the Sovereign Pontiff wanted Miss Jaricot to stay a full year there until all doubts about the completeness of the cure were quashed. Then, in a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, confirmed by the Pope on January 30, 1837, the feast of Saint Philomena was established as the eleventh of August.

January 30, 1837 - Pope Gregory XVI Confirmed the Feast of St. Philomena Established as August 11 - St. Philomena, Patroness and Protectress of the Living Rosary

  1. The article claimed there was no canonization process that takes place recognizing the sainthood of St. Philomena.

On January 30, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI issued a solemn pontifical decree confirming the rescript of the Congregation of Rites authorizing Saint Philomena’s public cultus and approving the office, Mass of the Common of a virgin and martyr with a proper fourth lesson at Matins in honor of St. Philomena, virgin and martyr on August 11. This papal approval of public liturgical devotion was first granted to the clergy of the Diocese of Nola, and later extended to other dioceses, including Rome itself. The fourth lesson officially inserted into the Breviary in liturgical honor of Saint Philomena on August 11 acknowledges the finding of her remains in the Priscilla catacombs, her martyrdom status, the rapid spread of her extensive popular devotion amidst the faithful due to her miraculous intercession, and the permission of the Pope to celebrate liturgically the office and mass in her honor (as here presented):


In summary, Pope Gregory XVI in a papal decree, granted official approbation of the liturgical cultus and, thereby, official ecclesiastical recognition of the sanctity of St. Philomena, virgin and martyr. The Pontiff, fully aware of the absence of any historical account of the martyr Saint "Filumena," granted to her the privileges of public liturgical veneration based upon the foundation of the great quantity of miracles ecclesiastically documented and recognized as having occurred through her direct intercession.

Magisterial Decrees Pertaining To Devotion to St. Philomena

From the liturgical approval of Pope Gregory XVI to the papal decrees of St. Pius X, Nineteen acts of the Holy See in the course of five successive pontificates were issued in positive promotion of popular devotion to Saint Philomena expressed in the form of elevations in rank of liturgical cultus, the erection of confraternities and archconfraternities, and the granting of plenary and partial indulgences.

Several acts of the Holy See particularly display the Magisterium’s approval and encouragement of ecclesial devotion to this Christian Saint and martyr. Beyond the elevation of the rank of the mass and office previously granted by Pope Gregory XVI, Bl. Pius IX approved a proper mass and office dedicated to St. Philomena with the papal confirmation of the previously submitted decree, Etsi decimo on January 31, 1855, a significant liturgical elevation, even though her name was never entered into the Roman Martyrology. The granting of a proper mass and office to Saint Philomena, which took place following the return of Bl. Pius IX from a papal pilgrimage to Mugnano during his forced exile from Rome, was an unprecedented act in honor of a Christian martyr known only by name and evidence of martyrdom. Bl. Pius IX also granted plenary and partial indulgences to devotions in honor of St. Philomena at the Sanctuary in Mugnano.

Pope Leo XIII granted papal approbation to the Cord of Saint Philomena with several plenary indulgences in association with its wearing, and accorded the title and privilege of "archconfraternity" for the respective Philomenian devotion and work in France. Pope St. Pius X continued the papal succession of encouragement for public Church devotion by approving the extension of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena to the universal Church.

"Far more than one solitary papal act by Pope Gregory XVI, the papal Magisterium has repeatedly encouraged the nature and growth of ecclesial devotion to Saint Philomena, in official recognition of her status as a Saint, in public liturgical and devotional sanctions which extended to the universal faith and life of the Church, and thereby manifesting official and essential liturgical and devotional characteristics of her status as a Saint as defined by the Church. - St. Philomena, Patroness and Protectress of the Living Rosary

In closing, no future pope can decanonized or detroned a saint previously honored and venerated by the Church more so a mere liturgical directives coming from Congragation of the Sacred Rites has the canonical power to do so. The brief confusions in 1961 because of the directives to remove the feast of St. Philomena from liturgical calendars was immediately corrected when it brought to the attention of St. Pope Paul VI by an Indian priest in 1964. St. Pope Paul VI instructed to simply disregard the directives of the Congregation of the Sacred Rites. Up to this very day the Catholic Church recognized St. Philomena universally as Virgin & Martyr and the numerous cult & association founded in honor of St. Philomena enjoyed a canonical status, Archconfraternity and Universal Archconfraternity as a solid evidence that the Catholic Church recognized her a saint.

  • 2
    This doesn't seem to be answering the question. Commented May 3, 2019 at 13:46
  • 1
    No pope has formerly canonized her either. If so can you provide a date (not a year) and link of the canonization? A saint without a liturgical feast day is unheard of. Thus Rome suppressed the cult of Philomena.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 15:40
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 11:36

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