A few months ago in March, I was getting ready for Sunday Mass and decided to offer the Novena to St Philomena and the Litany to her before I did my hair and make-up. It seems a minor decision, but I had to really push myself to say the prayers reverently and finish the necessary grooming in the time I had so I could still be early for Mass. I prayed for various intentions that seemed, well, a bit impossible, but then put them in Philomena's noble hands and forgot all about them. Only some minutes later, I heard three knocks on the door, as though an older child had come to pay us a visit. They were assertive knocks yet not loud or abrasive. My first thought was that it was a 13 year old girl. I was a teacher for some years and grew to know the age of a child/teen by their knock on the classroom door. 

There was a rare confidence in the hand that laid those raps. I went outside and there was no one there. I asked around to find out if there had been a sighting of someone who had knocked on our door, but no one had come in bodily form at least. I couldn't fathom what had happened, but then it dawned on me that it had been Philomena. She is known to sound her intercession to one of her followers by way of three knocks on their door. When I first heard that this happens, I thought, well that will never happen to me. In the wake of the raps, my prayers to her were answered.

And I did not expect it to happen a second time. But then again on Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I had just offered the novena to St Philomena followed by the litany, and as usual I  was in my own world, in fact, trying to think of something clever to message Danny Risdon and Catherine Collins, when again I heard three knocks on the door to the hallway. This time they were more resounding, more emphatic, as though I was being awoken from a reverie and told to have more confidence in the Princess of Heaven. 

This post is written in view of August 10, the date that Philomena was decapitated, and in view of her feast day which is August 11. Happy Feast of the Princess of Heaven! 

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The prayers that are referenced in this post and many others to St Philomena are available in the book, St Philomena the Wonder-Worker which you may buy at Tan Books. I include the novena below this post, which you may need to say right away for your intentions. Prepare to be amazed. 

The 3-Part Novena to St Philomena

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint Philomena, virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue. Amen. 

Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular (Here specify your petition). 

Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us. Amen. 

The painting above is the one commissioned by the Cure of Ars, St Jean Vianney and is in the shrine at Ars. The Cure had a very close relationship with his beloved, Philomena and he saw her frequently. This portrait which gives Philomena a heart-shaped face with full cheeks, a rosy glow and a beautiful mane of ebony hair is the most exact image of her that we have and perhaps the one that best prepares us to meet her in Heaven, which please God, we will some day. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Mary! I'm a fellow lover of Philomena. You probably know this, but the original knock of Philomena is one knock (see Fr. O'Sullivan's book on Philomena). Somehow, over time, there have been reports also of three knocks. I don't know why three eventually were added, but I suspect it was like the game of telephone--word got around, and at some point a person said it was three knocks, that got picked up, and so there are now it seems two form of Philomena's knock: either one knock or three knocks. I'm guessing if people, thinking she always give three, only got one would be confused, and St. Philomena is just too good to leave her friends baffled, so she gives them the number they expect so that they are sure of her help. I've heard her knock once--that is one knock, one time. It was a major thing I was talking to her about, and in my bedroom, with no one in there (including no pets), the door locked--and the outside of the house is brick--there was a clear, as you say confident, knock on the inside wall. I could tell the exact spot, right about the bed. It wasn't the house setting or something, it was a clear knock. I was astonished. And as I say, it was a major thing I was talking over with her--I was mid sentence and around half way done saying what I was saying then the knock came. It is one of the most wonderful experiences of my life to get that knock. I should add, I've been doing a good bit of research for a new book about St. Philomena (going a bit slowly as I get close to finishing my PhD dissertation), and all I've read from the older sources says she gives one knock--so I guess she knew I would understand one knock better than three! Anyway--thanks again for your blog Mary, it frequently makes my day.

    1. Keith, I purchased your wonderful book Mary, the Beloved back in 2020. One of the better contemporary books produced on the Virgin Mary. Philomena has never made an audible sound that I am aware of around me, but I know she was walking next to me this morning when I went home for lunch. Glory to God for all things!

    2. I too, have only previously read about one knock, but now will be open to more. May the Lord Bless you for sharing.

    3. Hi James! Thanks for your kind words. And that's awesome, going to St. Philomena's church for her feast. I hope her shrines comes to be. I asked the pastor at the Institute of Christ the King parish--Columbus, Ohio--if we would put a shrine to St. Philomena in the church. He's thinking about it.

      I also saw your comment on another of Mary's blog posts, about St. John Vianney. You mentioned St. Philomena being "fun." Just this morning I was having a chat with her, and I was telling her how fun she is--which I knew, but had never thought to actually consciously describe--what a great Providential thing that after this, quite by "accident," I saw your post and Mary's reply about Philomena being fun!

      As for books, if you liked Mary, the Beloved, I think you would love my second Mary book (of three), and I think it's my favorite; Fr. Don Calloway also wrote a review for the back cover (and a few others). It's here is you're interested: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Relationship-Dragons-Keith-Berube/dp/1952464013.

      Our Lady and St. Philomena bless you, James!

    4. Ah, I think I posted my reply to you, James, as "Anonymous" by accident. Didn't see I had to make a choice of how to reply.

    5. Dear Keith,

      Congratulations on your books, those published and those yet to come. I'm going to read your works on Mary asap, and I'm waiting eagerly for your work on Philomena.

      Double congratulations for going to the pastor and asking him to consider a shrine to Philomena.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I have read it several times and have committed the insight to memory, that St Philomena gives the number of knocks that a follower of hers is expecting.

      I think it may also be a case of location. In Ireland, the older folk who were extremely devoted to her used to say she knocked three times, this may be because Ireland is a very wet country and people have to knock loudly to be heard above the pitter-patter of rain that is the nation's soundtrack. That said, I live in a very dry place now, and I heard three knocks (on two occasions) and this supports your point that Philomena's signal aligns with the expectations of those seeking her aid.

      I'm so glad you enjoy this blog and that this post made your day. Your comment actually made my day a few days ago because I "put myself out there" with this post and your words were much needed encouragement.

      May you and yours be blessed and rewarded, Mary

    6. And yes, James you were so inspired when you said that Philomena is fun. A friend of mine who had been seriously ill, and she thought she would have the toughest of tough times in hospital, actually had a massive healing through the intercession of Philomena and was out of hospital quicker than her feet could touch the ground and she was so astonished that she was laughing and she exclaimed, "Philomena is such fun!" I also love it when I'm planning harsh penance and I pray to St Philomena and she arranges for me to get a gift of some sweet thing and it's like she's saying, "Have some fun, girl!"

      I'm a bit later than usual replying to comments because I've been on retreat and I had some glorious fun on her feast day.

    7. Hi Mary! Thanks for the congrats, I hope you like them--I would love to know what you think. I also use two of them in my classes (I teach at Queen of Heaven Academy--Mariology, Theology, and Literature), and I think they've done a lot of good for people, thanks to God and Our Lady.

      I'm really excited about the St. Philomena book! It won't be like any others I've read, and like the Mary books, I hope that first, it brings people to know her and rely on her more than ever, and second, it's like a love letter; I can't possibly do for her (or Mary) when she can do and has done for me (I owe her so much), but with Philomena, as I know may people feel in their own lives as well, we've become very close--to know her is to love her.

      And, I've actually got two quotes from you from your blog in my St. Philomena book now--if you don't mind. The first about how Padre Pio said--told to you by someone who knew him no less!--that she is THE Princess of Heaven. The second, your extremely crucial information about the rain in Ireland and the three knocks. Both of those things are simply priceless (of course I cite you and your blog--I hope it brings more people your way!).

      And I am so glad I to give you that encouragement! Clearly St. Philomena set all this up, sending me your way and inspiring me with the right words, knowing you needed it. She's so good--she does things like that all the time. The Communion of Saints is simply one of the most amazing, wonderful mysteries! Obviously she loves you like crazy.

      And if you could put in a good word with her about my novena intentions to her that I finished recently (on August 10th), I'd be grateful: concerning my PhD, various people's health issues, etc. I need all the prayers I can get. Be assured you are in my prayers as well!

    8. Keith, I am thrilled that you will be citing to me in your book. What an honor! Yes, I have a direct quote from someone who was extremely close to Padre Pio and heard it from the stigmatist directly that Philomena is the Princess of Heaven. This is in my book on Pio, and I hope you can cite to the book. Alas, it is taking a lot of time to write. But it is comprehensive and this seems to be my calling, to give Pio's advice to a readership of Catholics that is appropriate to their state of life, be they married, religious, single or consecrated.

      I also heard it from two other people that Pio said Philomena is the Princess. They did not know each other and had no relationship to my source, they, however, were not able to give me an accurate picture of the chain of events wherein they learned Pio said Philomena is the Princess. But it goes to show that there may be more sources out there, including those written in Italian. I keep searching, I like to amass as many as I can.

      I owe my devotion to St Philomena to the oldster Corkonians who frequented the churches in my native city and inspired in me a love of her. They were not moved to think the less of her because "some powder puffs at the Vatican" removed her from the calendar. They had benefited from her help in their dark hour and they weren't going to shun her now that she was being demoted, they were her true friends.

      With my prayers to St Philomena for you and yours, Mary

    9. Mary, a book on Padre Pio, that is wonderful! I'm planning on getting a copy for sure. You must know this already, that one can still become a spiritual child of Padre Pio. I did that years ago now, around 20 actually. I was given the huge blessing on a pilgrimage, led by a priest friend of mine, to go to San Giovanni! That was incredible, and I got to be the altar boy at Mass there, said at the same altar he said Mass everyday. During Mass an old friar came out and said to me to tell the priest to bring everyone back in the sacristy after--this was totally unplanned by us (but Providential). Turns out, for one, the sacristy is also where Padre Pio prepared for Mass, and this friar personally knew Padre Pio, having been a friar with him for the last five years of Padre Pio's life. I was stunned. And we we blessed, each one personally, with a glove he wore and his crucifix.

      Do you know when your book will be published? I will certainly cite the book if I can! I won't be done with my book for about another year or so, so there is plenty of time. Otherwise I'll link to your blog--which I will include anyway, even with the book citation :)

      Got to love those Corkonians!! The removal of St. Philomena was simply satanic. The devil knows how powerful she is.

      Is there a way I can get in touch with you without putting my email here? I'm not sure how to coordinate any book issues otherwise, though I could always just leave a comment in whatever your latest blog post is. Whatever you think is best of course! And I'd also love to know if you happen upon any new St. Philomena information--it is so hard to track this stuff down. I did finally get a copy out Monsignor Braschi's out of print book, "Saint Philomena, Testimony of the Light of Christ." Took me a long time to find a copy, and cost something like 40 dollars (should be like 15), but I was not going to pass up finding a copy! It was like two years or something trying to find a copy.

      Thank you for your prayers, you are in mine as well!

    10. Dear Keith, Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous account of your time in San Giovanni. I think and hope my book will see the light of day in 2023. You may, if you wish, put your email in a comment that I won't publish.

      And thank you for wanting to cite to both my book and my blog.

      We are like St Philomena's courtiers, trying to give her due honor and restore her as a true royal of the heavenly court in the minds of others.

      Yours devotedly in Christ, Mary

  2. I had trouble trying to think of a name for confirmation, so on the eve of the day my mother suggested St. Philomena. I didn't know the name, but I trusted my mother for selecting a good one and I followed her suggestion. I have been blessed by her watchfulness for many years. But lately I have forgotten to mark her feast day. Thank you for this lovely post! I won't forget this year. ;-)

    1. So good to know, Mary Kay that your confirmation name is Philomena.Your mother was a wise lady! I hope you had a lovely feast day. I'm a bit late replying to comments because I was on retreat and had limited internet access. But I had a most wondrous feast of Philomena in the company of nun friends of mine.

  3. Go riabh mile mait agat, Maire. tw

    1. Tá fáilte romhat, a stór, le beannacht Dé, Mary

  4. My mother prayed to st Philomena daily and actually died on August 10th

  5. I heard her three knocks and my prayer was answered.

    1. Congratulations, I'm so pleased you have enjoyed her intercession and her sign.

  6. Mary, Bishop Michael Fisher celebrated mass on the Feast of St. Philmena's at St Philomena's here in Franklinville NY yesterday. I served at the altar with my son, representing the Church of Constantinople in communion with Rome. It was a beautiful mass. My impression of Bishop is that he is a great guy and not a politician, focused more on holiness and bringing his sheep to Christ. Father Melfi wrapped up his term at St. Philomena's and Father Dennis began his term today.

    The plan to have a shrine to St. Philomen here is slowly progressing. I ordered today a fairly large icon of St. Philomena that Father Dennis will consecrate according to the Euchologion and then placed in St. Philomena's.

    Thank you for the novena, Mary, it was a good reminder and I have said, and will say it again.

    At least St. Philomena knocked on your door, what if she had to knock on your head to get your attention, lol!

    1. The plan for a shrine to St Philomena is an awesome mission. May it come to pass!

  7. Keith,

    I would like to talk to you more regarding our Lady. My email is mcauleyscavalryatverizondotnet. Also, there is a whole book of locutions of St. Philomena with Janie Garza from the mid-late 1990s. I think the book is credible, but it is out of print.

    1. Also, Keith, you may have seen James's amazing comment under this piece where he analyses Philomena's place in history. https://thepathlesstaken7.blogspot.com/2022/02/philomena-powerful-princess-in-heaven.html

    2. James,

      Thanks for your email, I'll write soon so you have mine as well. I should say my time is about to become more limited then ever with the school year starting, my PhD work, and loads of family stuff, but I will reply even if it's not too fast.

      Mary, thanks for the link to James's comment.

      James, good stuff! Much of that I found as well in my own research. Corfu was already part of the Roman Empire for a long while though, so I'm not sure she would have been considered foreign. As for her parents not bringing her remains home, I think it was not deliberate. Here's why: her parents definitely deeply loved Philomena and acted out of incredible duress. They did not back her up, but they didn't want her to die, or the people of their kingdom to die, hence their incredible pressure upon Philomena to give in to Diocletian. A misplaced love in that instance, but again, they didn't want her to die; it's the kind of duress that can diminish culpability (extreme fear, panic, etc). Her body was placed in what is called The Greek Chapel in the catacombs, and only her parents could have known what to put on the tiles of her tomb: Lumena was her first name, after birth, and that comes first on the tile, Fi comes last and that was added to Lumena at her Baptism, so it makes sense it was placed as the last tile. It wasn't an accident, as some in the past thought. The other issue is the heat--this was summer in Rome when she was martyred, and without some method to embalm her for a long trip back, there is just no way to do it--her body would have decomposed on their trip, in that heat even in the space of a day. The other issue is the anger of Diocletian--there is no way he would have let them leave with her body, and as with other martyrs, it seems the need to bury her was urgent--they did it right away, likely to prevent her body from being desecrated.

      Anyway, it's an amazing historical analysis, and I see a few points I need to include in my book! Thanks for having typed all that up. I'll be in touch!

    3. Dear James and Keith,

      Thank you both for enriching the discussion on St Philomena in the most wonderful ways. It is a true joy to me that this little post garnered your insights. I have prayed much over the following and believe that an analysis of Philomena as a Greek and as a noble and most of all as a Greek Catholic is paramount to understanding her.

      I can't stop pondering the question of whether Philomena was regarded as a foreigner and believe it is most important. Philomena was Greek and the Greeks gave the Romans the blueprint for running a society. It was a mark of the highly educated in Diocletian's Rome if someone could speak Greek. Centuries before, during the time of Christ, educated Romans were distinguished by their knowledge of Greek.

      I actually believe that Philomena being a noble separated her from her other peers - at home and abroad - but especially in Rome. She must have come from an ancient line of royals and she was a Grecian beauty who had inherited the good looks of her aristocratic ancestors. The Romans had no one who could stand as her equal; a representative of Ancient Greece (the society that informed theirs) and someone who was a noble of exquisite lineage.

      Now, Philomena comes as a royal to Rome, and is seen as the one who is telling them she knows better as a Catholic who is no longer keeping the shared religion of paganism that both Greeks and Romans had in common. This would have awakened old insecurities that the Greeks really were a better people, and the old inferiority complex was agitated. The Romans looked to the Greeks as their highest influence, and now a Greek royal is spurning the advances of the Emperor: this could have had wide-ranging catalyst for the conversion of many to Catholicism. Essentially, Philomena as a Greek had more power to evangelize the ordinary pagans in Rome by virtue of the Greeks being seen as leaders in culture.

      Philomena, beloved Grecian beauty, pray for us!

  8. Yes. She knocked "three" times for me when I was growing up in Boston, MA. I was 12. She has been knocking for me in times of severe need ever since


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