Philomene Jane Genovese


The Servant of God Philomene Jane Genovese, Virgin, Third Order

Philomene Jane belongs to those admirable souls who were strong and courageous despite the weakness of nature, arriving at extraordinary holiness already in their youth, and happily combining penance with the innocence of life.

Philomene Jane Genovese was born to the Genovese family at Nocera in 1835 and was devoutly educated. The first words and the first greeting uttered by this little angel were “Ave Maria!” The Most High, who chooses to be praised by the mouths of little ones, weaned little Philomene at a very early age from the glamour of the world. She exchanged her beautiful dresses for poor clothes, and she preferred to engage in the lowliest household duties. She used to reprove the maid who was charged with attending to her hair: “You are too particular about such material things. It will be too bad for us if we fail to remember Christ, whose hair was torn from His head!”

She was anxious to enter the religious state, but Providence decreed otherwise. By means of purity and penance, Philomene was to become a spectacle to a dissolute and effeminate world. In order to belong entirely to God, she consecrated herself to Him in the world by the three vows. Then her trials began. Terrible maladies visited her, but Philomene accepted them all with such heavenly patience and joy that the attending physician once said: “You are a saint! Pray for me!”

The Servant of God Philomene Jane Genovese


She lived up to her motto: “Nothing is nearer and dearer to me than to do the will of God.” From the day of her admission into the Third Order, she gradually rose to a high degree of perfection. To the various ailments that afflicted her, she added scourging and all sorts of mortifications. This heroine of purity, patience, and penance had not yet attained her thirtieth year when she went forth with her lamp well-filled to meet her heavenly Bridegroom. She died in the year 1864. The cause for her beatification was introduced in 1919.

It was not without good reason that the servant of God Philomene despised luxury in dress. “Glory not in apparel.” (Eccli. 11,4) Whoever pays too much attention to luxury in dress, nourishes vanity and the ambition to please others, is too solicitous for what is exterior, neglects the interior life, and rouses envy and even worse sins in others.

What should the style of Christian apparel be? It should becomingly cover the body and protect it against the inclemency of the weather. It may indeed be attractive. The prevalent fashion, however, may not be the sole authority in these matters, but rather a Christian sense of propriety and modesty, and a healthy artistic taste. Everything that savors of sensuality should be avoided, for our Lord Himself says: “They who are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings.” (Mt. 11,8)

We must resist the inclination toward luxury in dress. If the inclination arises in you, be mindful of the poor swaddling clothes of our Savior, and the still poorer loincloth on the cross. Think of our Blessed Lady, whom you can hardly picture in your mind in luxurious dress. Remember the words of Scripture: “Whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit which is rich in the sight of God.” (1 Pet. 3,3-4)

Prayer of the Church

Be merciful, O Lord, to our humble petitions. Accept the offerings and prayers of Thy people and convert our hearts to Thee, so that freed from sensual desires we may raise them to heavenly ones. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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