From the name of an obscure saint (probably of the 3rd century) with a local cult in Italy. In 1527 the bones of a young woman were discovered under the church altar at San Severino near Ancona, together with a Latin inscription declaring them to be the body of St Filomena. Her name seems to be a feminine form of Latin Philomenus, Greek Philomenēs, from philein ‘to love’ + menos ‘strength’. The name became popular in the 19th century, as a result of the supposed discovery in 1802 of the relics of another St Philomena in the catacombs at Rome. All the excitement, however, resulted from the misinterpretation of the Latin inscription Filumena pax tecum ‘Peace be with you, beloved’ (from Greek philoumena ‘beloved’).