Friday 5 March 2021

St. Philomena: The Wonder-Worker - Father Paul O'Sullivan

St. Philomena: The Wonder-Worker
Father Paul O'Sullivan
ISBN 9780895555014
eISBN 9780895551382

This was the fifth book I have read by Father Paul O’Sullivan over the last 5 weeks. The first few were short booklets. Then a much longer work. And then this one. I also still have two of his books on my wish list that I hope to read in the coming weeks. I picked the first book up because it was promoted by TAN books in an email blast. They were promoting a bundle of books by Father Paul O'Sullivan. I know I have seen the covers before. And based on when the books were first published maybe even back to the Catholic Book Stores of my youth. A few of the titles piqued my interest. And books form TAN never disappoint. But I was not read to buy the whole bundle. I should have. As I have now read 5 of the 6 in the bundle.

For those not familiar as I was not:

“Fr. Paul Henry O'Sullivan, O.P., S.T.L., P.G., E.D.M., was born in Tralee, Ireland in 1871 and died in Lisbon, Portugal in 1958.”

The description of this volume begins with:

“St. Philomena is perhaps the most extraordinary Saint in the history of the Catholic Church. When the relics of this 13-year-old Virgin Martyr were discovered in the Roman Catacombs in 1802, she became almost overnight one of the most popular saints in the Church, earning the nick-name of “The Wonder-Worker” because of the countless remarkable favors that she sent to those who prayed to her. For a century and a half there was a worldwide Catholic devotion to St. Philomena, approved by many Popes. But amazingly, since the 1960’s, she has been almost forgotten.”

And it ends with:

“God obviously wishes to give out His gifts and favors through the hands of St. Philomena, and it is His will that we ask her for them. These pages will give new hope to all who need a special friend in Heaven to answer their prayers.

May this little book help to open up the floodgates of heavenly gifts so that once again this sweet young Saint will become known by that beautiful title: Saint Philomena — The Wonder-Worker!”

This book was very hard to put down. Once I started reading I became completely enthralled and captivated by the book, the saint and all the stories surrounding her. I have even suggested to my youngest daughter that she consider taking her as her confirmation Saint in 2 years time. 

The chapters in the book are:

Publishers’ Note
  Letters of Cardinals and Bishops
  Foreword: A Priest and a Soldier
1.The Catacombs
2.The Finding of the Body of St. Philomena
3.The Marvels of Mugnano
4.The Great Miracle of Mugnano
5.A Visit to Mugnano
6.The Curé of Ars and St. Philomena
7.Other Favored Sanctuaries
8.The Sovereign Pontiffs and St. Philomena
9.The Intercession of the Saints
10.Who Was St. Philomena?
11.How to Honor St. Philomena
12.What the Thaumaturga Does for Schools
13.Answers to Prayer
Supplement No. 1
  St. Philomena Vindicated
Supplement No. 2
  Letters from Readers

The publishers note dated October 26, 1993 begins with:

“Sometimes a question arises about devotion to St. Philomena being no longer acceptable in the Church. This question comes up because on February 14, 1961, just prior to Vatican Council II, the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome issued an instruction that St. Philomena’s feast day, August 11, was to be removed from all liturgical calendars (which would include the liturgical calendar of the universal Church as well as calendars of particular dioceses or congregations which might include special feast days). A number of other feast days were likewise dropped at that time.”

And it ends with:

“In any case, private devotion to St. Philomena is still very praiseworthy. It is our hope that a renewal of devotion to St. Philomena will lead to a great shower of graces and favors from Heaven—to lead, in turn, to the restoration of the Feast of St. Philomena throughout the universal Church.”

And after reading this book, it is our great loss that devotion to this saint has fallen by the wayside. For me reading about the saints is like encountering holy friends. Some I am familiar with, some I know well and spend time often with, and some are mostly new to me. Prior to reading this work I have only read Alice Curtayne’s short volume, simply called Saint Philomena. Yet this volume goes well beyond Curtains work both in depth, in details, and in sheer number of stories about the saints favor and even a few cases of displeasure. This volume has an Imprimatur issued in 1925.

While reading this book parts reminded me of Curtayne’s work, but there was so many more wonderful miracles recounted in this book. I literally could not put it down. And have talked to my youngest about it, so that we can plan to read it together soon.  

Father O’Sullivan states in the foreward:

“The writer of the following short sketch [that is, this book] was himself at one time very little in sympathy with the “dear Little Saint,” as the holy Curé of Ars loved to style St. Philomena. In fact, he strenuously opposed the erection of her statue in the church then under his direction. Happily, however, the Saint, in her own inimitable way, overcame with a sweet violence this unworthy opposition and transformed her would-be antagonist into one of her most grateful clients. This fact will go far to show how impartial is the testimony he bears to her.”

This sets the ground for us. Fr. O’Sullivan was not a fan and became a big devotee. And he was converted to her cult. The stories will amaze, surprise, and entertain. A few will make you weepy, and a few will likely inspire laughter. 

There is a collection of prayers at the end of the book, and it is worth picking up just for these prayers. There are also letter from readers of the book who have had answered prayers that are now included in the reprint. 

An excellent read about an amazing saint. It is well written. Nearly impossible to put down. I highly recommend it to you. It will change your life. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Father Paul Henry O'Sullivan, O.P:
How to Avoid Purgatory
My Lord and My God, Or, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
Our Lady of Fatima
Read Me or Rue It
St. Patrick and the Irish
The Divine Office: How to Say it Devoutly, How to Make it a Pleasure
The Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Story of a Great Man: Doctor Antonio de Oliveira Salazar
The Ten Commandments: For Real - For Now
What Ireland Owes to Portugal

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