About 20 miles northeast of Naples Italy, lies the quiet and unassuming town of Mugnano. Within this town, you will find the equally unassuming Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, which is famously known as the final resting place for the body of St. Philomena, a virgin martyr who died under the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the late Third Century.
Since the canonization of St. Philomena in 1837, countless pilgrims have flocked to this church in order to venerate the remains of the young saint, which are now contained within a wax figurine. Every 50 years or so, a new dress is designed for this figurine, while the old dress is broken down and distributed as third class relics.
Elsewhere in the church, you can find a side altar containing the three original stone coverings to St. Philomena’s tomb, which was excavated from the catacombs of St. Pricilla in 1802. It was from these coverings that we first learned the name of this saint, as the words "Pax Tecum Philomena" were inscribed on the outside.
Additionally, pilgrims can find the miraculous altar, gifted to the shrine by Alessandro Serio in 1814. The story goes that while the stone mason was crafting the main marble slab for the altar, a massive crack split the center of the marble, thus making it unusable. It was however, miraculously restored to its original state a short time later in front of many witnesses. Today, the only the evidence of a crack that remains is a single, hairline fracture near the front.
Perhaps the most interesting and unexpected find in this church is a massive reliquary, containing large bones of some of the Church’s most famous saints, including St. Boniface, Justin Martyr, Cyprian of Carthage, and Alphonsus Ligouri, just to name a few.
Although St. Philomena is less widely known today, as her feast day was removed from the Church’s calendar in 1961, she nonetheless remains one of the most beloved and recognizable saints of the early Roman persecutions. And thus the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace will continue to promote her veneration for years to come.