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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Blood of St. Januarius Liquifies

Fr. Scott Haynes

Today is the feast day of Saint Januarius (San Gennaro). He lived during the Great Persecution of the early fourth century, under the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Januarius was born in the Italian city of Benevento to wealthy parents. At the tender age of 15, he was appointed Priest of that parish, and by the time he was 20, he was Bishop of Naples. To protect Christians from Diocletian's psychotic persecution, Januarius hid them.

While paying a pastoral visit to a Christian prisoner, Januarius was arrested for his faith. St. Januarius and his companions were sentenced to death. At first, they were to bethrown to wild bears in the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli. But the orders were changed due to fear of public unrest, and he and his fellow believers were put into a furnace. When they emerged unhurt, Diocletian would order them to be beheaded. This great martyr of the early Church is the patron saint of Naples, and three times a year, the devout travel to the city's Cathedral to see the hoped-for liquefaction of a sample of his blood housed in a sealed glass ampoule.

At the time of the death of St. Januarius his blood was preserved by a woman named Eusebia. Over the centuries, devotees of this great martyr anticipate the special days in which the faithful observe the miracle of the liquification of his blood. Records of these miracles date back to 1389. On his feast day, September 19, people still assemble to remember his bravery and martyrdom; on December 16, they celebrate his patronage of Naples and the Archdiocese; and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, they remember the translation of his relics into the Cathedral.


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