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Blessing of the Holy Oil of Saint Philomena and a Novena for Gabrielle Giffords

1/15/2011 - 1:18 PM PST

Catholic PRWire

AVELLINO, AZ (January 15, 2011) - This Sunday, January 16, 2011, we celebrate a Solemn Mass at the Sanctuary. The birth of Saint Philomena is celebrated on the 10th of January, and the Sunday after the 10th is the day we bless the holy oil of Saint Philomena. Next to the Feast in August, this is the largest celebration of the year at the Sanctuary. The mass is led by the Bishop of Nola and is attended by pilgrims from across the globe and around Italy.

Why is this blessing of our holy oil worthy of such celebration? In 1805, the Reliquary of Saint Philomena arrived in Mugnano. A woman from Avella, full of faith in God, dipped a finger into the oil of the lamp which burned in front of the altar of the Saint, and anointed the eyelids of her blind child. To the astonishment of all present, the child immediately received sight. Because of this miracle, the entire town of Mugnano del Cardinale participates in this celebration which includes fireworks and a parade to the town center with a tree cut from the nearby forest especially in honor of Saint Philomena.

Live webcam screen-shot of the altar of Saint Philomena with the framed photo of Gabrielle Giffords on it.In the early twentieth century, tradition was for people from across Italy to bring olive oil from their own trees to be blessed in this ceremony and distributed around the world. In more recent times, the pilgrims grew to include devotees from across the globe who bring their oil to be blessed and distributed from the Sanctuary.

Documented reports of miracles received by individuals who use this Holy Oil are sent to me every year. This year, I have decided to expand this mission to include a Novena devoted to the full and complete recovery of United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. It is my hope that the tens of thousands of you on our mailing list who receive this email will join me in this Novena, to commence on Sunday. Also, please include the others who lost their lives and those recovering from wounds suffered in Arizona last weekend in your prayers. The many devotees of Saint Philomena in the State of Arizona will be in my prayers during this Novena. Gloria Giffords, the mother of Gabrielle Giffords, created a lovely piece of art - a composition including a copy of a very old print of Saint Philomena. I am sending a bottle of the holy oil of St. Philomena to the Giffords family in the hope it will aid in healing their distress over this senseless tragedy.

Arizona holds special connections for me. I especially remember meeting Janet Napolitano, the Governor of Arizona at the time of my visit in 2004. Seeing her as she participated with President Obama in the memorial service for the victims in Tucson, Arizona on January 12th brought pleasant memories. My spirits lifted as I saw her, now serving as Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security, reading from the 40th Chapter of Isaiah. You can view the video of the whole Memorial Service at the bottom of our online version of this email on our website by clicking here.

Please pray also for our many devotees who live in Australia and during this Novena. Remember all the victims of the floods in Australia and Brazil and the unrest breaking out in Tunisia, in your prayers.


Sanctuary of Saint Philomena  AZ, 83027 IT
Monsignor Giovanni Brasch - Rector, 


Saint, Philomena, Gabrielle, Giffords



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1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Lorraine Emul
    2 years ago

    How can I order the holy oil?

  2. sharon gordon
    2 years ago

    Thank you for the beautiful story about The Life of Saint Philomena. I made sure all my nieces and nephews read it. I will teach many people about her. I lent the cord to my niece, Mellanie who had surgery for her damaged nerves ans who is going to have another operation for knee recoinstruction. Please pray for her.

  3. Beverly
    4 years ago

    It is heartening to me to see Ms. Giffords being prayed for in Italy. I love St. Philomena and hope that the prayers we send through her for Gabrielle will be heard and will aid in a faster healing for this remarkable woman.

  4. Richard Fox
    4 years ago

    As a Catholic in Arizona, I appreciate Fr. Braschi’s prayers for our Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.

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