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St. Philomena was a Greek princess who was martyred at a young age. Born into a Christian family in the 3rd century, St. Philomena found herself the desire of Emperor Diocletian, who was going to war with St. Philomena’s father. When the virgin St. Philomena, believed to be roughly 13 at the time, refused, she was subject to cruel torments like scourging, drowning and shooting. However, in each attempt on her life, St. Philomena was protected by angels who rescued her. Eventually, Emperor Diocletian had the virgin martyr decapitated. Her tomb was discovered in a catacomb the 19th century. Images on the funerary tiles on her tomb were an anchor, a palm, a javelin, arrows and a lily.
In artwork, St. Philomena is often shown as a young woman, and for that reason she is the patron saint to other young women, virgins or babies. She is frequently shown with a hand to her chest, which may be representative of her wounds that were miraculously healed or simply as a gesture of the saint in prayer. She also is shown with the images from her tomb, particularly the anchor, the lily or the palm.