The Heresy of Philomena's Sainthood

Dear brothers and sisters, there is a heresy spreading in our Church. Based on the vision of a Catholic nun, and on no other evidence at all, people have started venerating a person named Philomena in our Coptic church. I've written an article against the heresy of her veneration. Please read it and be informed, as people are sadly led only by emotions and not the facts. Unless the Holy Synod finds evidence for her sainthood and canonizes her she should not be venerated in our Church.


  • @GreekCopt,
    St. Philomena is not canonized by the Coptic Church but she is recognized. This Saint was martyred before canonization was established for the Saint in the church so the church allows for her veneration in the church. Part of her body came to Egypt and some of it is in St. George Convent, in Old Egypt and in convents and monasteries they recognize her as a Saint because of the numerous miracles that God bestowed upon His people through her prayers. We do not venerate this Saint based on the accounts of a nun but based on what happened with Coptic Christians and in Egypt.
  • With all due respect thoktetegom, a church has been built in Texas with her name, her relics are venerated in our Church and people consider her a saint. Orthodoxy does not work simply by miracles or peoples emotions. Also there is no evidence the body found in the tomb was that of a martyr. How do you know she is a martyr? There's no written evidence for this, only the accounts of a Catholic nun who had a vision of Philomena, who told her she was martyred. Since when does Orthodoxy believe visions of a Catholic nun without any other evidence. She isn't even recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Read my article and you will see all the facts and evidence for what I'm saying. This is down right wrong and a betrayal of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is based on facts and not feelings.
  • Her veneration might have something to do with the fact that people like her name. Some egyptians are stupid like that. If people buy into protestant songs and sermons, is it any surprise that they'll eat up some sort of story about a vision a catholic nun allegedly saw.
  • @GreekCopt
    Yes what evidence is there that her body that was found in the tomb was that of a martyr, what evidence is there that the body of any other martyr canonized by the Coptic Church is that of a martyr? For example, St. Mina appeared in a vision to the queen that was sleeping at the site of his holy body and told her that they had buried him there which is a similar "vision" that the nun may have had. I am not saying that the nun was right in her testimony I have no proof of what she saw and I can not judge but the saints of the church were known by the congregation through the miracles they perform and through visions. I do not agree with the last part that Orthodoxy is based on facts, yes it is but we walk by faith and not by sight or else we would be "scientologists" if we believe based on facts solely. Christianity is unique in that we believe by our faith in our Lord. 
  • St. Philomena is venerated in the Coptic church because of her accepted intercessions before God and not because Coptics merely like her name because that is not how it works, with all due respect. 
  • edited August 2019
    The process of recognizing someone as a saint is not easy. It took the church 50 years after the departure of Habib Guirgis for them to actually recognize him officially in the synaxarium. The Holy Synod has to agree upon the canonization and if they did not have enough evidence to recognize her as a saint then they would not have. There are still updates that are happening to the synaxarium and that takes a while. Also the Catholics recognize her as a saint and once again there's that process. Although I am not sure of the details, there must be justifiable reasoning, the church is very careful with these things...
  • I really don't intend to side track this conversation, but I'm so impressed by the level of knowledge that exists within this forum. It is incredible that you guys actually know this stuff.
  • edited September 2019
    I'm coming very late into this discussion but I would offer a word of caution against throwing around words like 'heresy' so readily, especially in a matter such as this.

    Heresy is when a teaching contradicts the Apostolic teachings of the Church.  One's faith does not hang on whether or not they believe St Philomena is a saint (per se).  As such, it could be considered a mistake perhaps but it can't really be a heresy because belief in her sainthood doesn't really affect our understanding of the economy of salvation in Christ or our belief in God.

    I also don't think the canonisation process can be treated the way it is here (as the sole indicator of sainthood).  Historically the Church honored local traditions of communities who honor holy people that lived among them.  Canonisation in the Orthodox Church is not to be understood as an exclusive list of figures we can venerate:

    "For the first thousand years of the history of the Church saints were
    recognized without any formal rite of canonization. Local congregations
    of the faithful simply began to remember certain well-known Christians
    in their liturgical gatherings, to ask them for help in prayer, to visit
    their relics, which frequently remained vehicles of the Holy Spirit,
    curing the sick in soul and body, as they had during earthly life.

    In the 10th century, in the west, the then-Orthodox Church of Rome
    began to insist that saints be formally and officially “registered” as
    such with the Roman authorities. The first recorded canonization of this
    type was that of Ulrich of Augsburg, canonized in 993 by John XV. For
    the next 600 years—during which time the Roman Catholic Church split off
    from the Orthodox community—the west developed a very legalistic and
    precise method of determining who were saints.

    The Holy Orthodox Church never developed any comparable methods for
    canonizing her saints. The situation remained very much determined by
    local practices, local cults, and local traditions. Holy men and women
    continued to be recognized as such during their own lifetime; they
    continued to be venerated (honored) after their death; Christian people
    continued to ask for their prayers and to visit their shrines."

    Source :

    Figures like Pope Kyrillos in our parents generation were deemed to be holy people while they were alive and people sought his intercession (quite rightly) from the day he died.  This is always the pattern because the Holy Spirit makes it obvious to us when a figure is a saint while they live among us.  The recognition of this fact by believers (rather than a canonisation process) is very very important.  The reason I stress this is the Holy Spirit witnesses to us the work of Christ and the faith of the Apostles through signs done in the saints (see Heb 2:1-4).  Its this work that is the proof that our faith is living and that we walk in the Spirit.
  • I dont have the time to find the thread again, but a discussion came up some while back about Alleged-Saint Philomena, and if I remember correctly there was some consensus there. If anyone can link to it it’d be appreciated
  • edited September 2019
    Thank you. I must say I'm surprised at the resolution and the supporting article as they don't agree with our traditional standard. Our fathers never used a process of determining sainthood based on historicity. Its a Catholic innovation and it seems the article taking an alien starting point goes down another's rabbit hole.

    We're very new as a community to scholarship and it can be a bit of a two edged sword. Sometimes it takes you forward if you do something in harmony with tradition. Sometimes it takes you backwards when you attack the faith's own first principals. This I fear is one of those occasions. The danger is where spirituality is only accessible to those pure in heart, scholarship is open often excelled in by those with the greatest pride.

    I cannot speak on the will of the author, I am certain they are someone of good nature, but we need to keep it real. Our fathers had a gift of revelation that they used to understand mysteries and articulate things beyond words. They were gifted with insight of the incarnation and trinity and set these things out for us in plain language. The indescribable nature was circumscribed in language. This knowledge on account of its origins is sacred and heavenly, it describes things beyond our educated systems of learning and insight. It did not ultimately come from man. As a result of it being revelatory and guided by principals of a heavenly tradition, we must make a distinction. Those who are the the fountainheads of such knowledge and the less gifted souls who study their works in academia. The former as guards against error, those who outlined the truth. The latter, failing to walk the same spiritual path eat the fruits of their labours but fall short of the life that produced it. We often forget the hours of prayer and scriptural study the fathers invested to yield that spiritual fruit. Short cutting that process puts the same knowledge into the hands of those less mature how did not arrive at it by means of cultivating a spiritual tree to yield the precious fruit. Our knowledge of God's mysteries is a sacred kind of knowledge, it was hidden until the appearance of Christ. The scholars among the Jews were confounded and Christ hand picked for himself 12 who were of lowly disposition.

    Arius was a great scholar. Go and read his writings, it can be admitted without question. What he lacked was that he walked in his own intepretive framework and not that of Apostolic tradition. He had the academic gifts but not the fruit that comes with living tradition.

    If the veracity of Saint Philomena is to be judged it must be done using the Spirit as a guide. Sainthood is the means by which the Church is reminded that Christ is alive and His resurrection bore fruit. Hence miracles and signs have to take precedence over any historical arguments a scholar might make as they come from a higher authority, the Holy Spirit.
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