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St. Philomena Redux

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Clothes for the St. Philomena Simulacrum was our first project as the St. Martha’s Guild in 2014. We didn't really know what we were doing, and, as it turns out, nobody really liked how she turned out. Lucy, we like a lot, St. Philomena, sorry dear, not so much. Her dress was frumpy and fading. Her hair looked moth-eaten and was falling out all over the place. She was kind of a mess.

This second go around started when the amazing Deprato Rigali Studios came to St. John Cantius to do an extensive restoration of St. Philomena’s case. which also houses a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

St. Philomena was moved to our sewing room for the duration of the restoration. We stared at her for a few days, discussed our dissatisfaction with her appearance, and then just went for it.

One of our concerns was that the lack of eyebrows and lashes made her look like she was dying of something terrible. Well, she did, die of something terrible, just not this kind of death. It was a little off putting, and we had received comments.

So, yeah, on top of the new wig, some eyebrows and lashes happened. We figured, if a wig was OK, then maybe the rest of her hair would be legal too. Our teenage girls turned out to be the experts on the best way to apply them and were able to do so with no permanent disturbance to this amazing antique.

Her clothing was the next issue that we addressed. We decided that her red velvet cape still had a lot of life in it and would just need an adjustment to the trim. A linen petticoat created from a retired alb gave structure to the damask underdress that we sewed using fabric rescued from a ruined cope. The dress is embellished with a goldwork border carefully hand stitched by Juanita. The overdress is embroidered and jeweled gold taffeta fit for a princess.

We decided we all want a dress just like hers. Maybe we'll make this the habit for our apostolate...

We also made St. Philomena a comfy cushion and bolster pillow. We were looking for a nice brown velvet so the cushion would blend in with the wood of her case. Our favorite store in Pilsen, Textile Discount Outlet, just happened to have one roll of brown velvet. It just happened to be the right color. It also happened to be a rare silk velvet which we thought was pretty perfect.

Here Cindy and Lisa are taking care of a few last minute details and her hair is getting a nice braided updo to finish the restoration (thanks Emma).

We miss having her lounging in our sewing room. She did take up a bit of space though, and the parishioners were demanding to have her back.

Emily and Mia quietly, and with devoted focus, installed our dear St. Philomena in her newly renovated resting place in the sanctuary.

How amazing it is to have one of her relics. From our personal experience, she is a mighty intercessor, and always available to take your prayer requests to Our Lord.

St. Philomena, pray for us.

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