Sunday, April 21, 2013
Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy - The Shrine of St. Philomena
One of my favorite places we visited in Italy was the International Shrine of St. Philomena in Mugnano del Cardinale, Italy. Mugnano is a tiny town located about 30 minutes outside of Naples. We had quite a difficult time finding it, but it was well worth it.
This little town boasts a population of 4900 people. It is very quaint and charming. I had the chance to speak with several locals during my visit. They were quite friendly and welcoming. Crime is extremely rare in this area. People leave their doors unlocked and kids can play outside without fear of being harmed. It's that kind of place. When we first arrived, it was on a Sunday, so many places in town were closed. Several men from the area played card games outside of the community center located near the Shrine. I enjoyed listening to their lively (Italian) conversation and watching their animated gestures and facial expressions. Although I don't understand much Italian, I had a good idea of what was happening during their game. They were quite entertaining. I had a chance to wander around town before Mass and dinner and enjoyed finding my way around the little winding roads that make up this little town.
The Shrine itself is quite beautiful. St. Philomena's remains are housed here; they were discovered in the catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome in 1802, and moved here by in 1805 by an Italian priest. Many miracles have been attributed to St. Philomena, who is known as the "saint of the impossible". The shrine has on display numerous pictures and statues of the saint; they also have a wonderful little gift shop housed at the location. Monsignor Giovanni Braschi presides over the shrine. He is very kind and welcoming to visitors and he made us feel totally at home there.
We stayed the evening at the sanctuary and were served delicious homemade Italian meals made by church parishioners for dinner and breakfast. As we were leaving the sanctuary, we witnessed the beginning of an Italian wedding ceremony. It was such a beautiful occasion. The church bells chimed loudly and could be heard blocks away. Ave Maria was also played from the loudspeaker of the church. Local townspeople came out of their homes to view the arrival of the bride and her wedding party. I was completely in awe of how the townspeople came together to acknowledge the wedding of the bride and groom. This is truly the small town atmosphere one thinks of when they envision life in a small town. I can't wait to go back.