The miracle of the blood of San Gennaro in Naples

I am glad that Sancte Pater picked up the ANSA story about the miracle of the blood of St. Januarius, in Italian San Gennaro, the bishop of Benevento near Naples who was martyred during the persecution by Diocletian around 305.

Blood of San Gennaro is preserved in a crystal phial.  It miraculously re-liquifies three times a year.  First, on the anniversary of the saint’s martyrdom, 19 September, next on 16 December the anniversary of an eruption of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius in 1631 which was halted by the intervention of the saint, and also on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. The first historical reference to the miracle is from 1389.

This event is a HUGE deal in Naples.  When the martyr’s blood does not re-liquify, bad things happen.  On one occasion, 1527, plague killed tens of thousands of people.  In 1980 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake.

UPDATE 21 Sept 1427 GMT:

Be sure to read Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith’s piece at The Catholic Herald.  He recounts his own experience of “il miracolo“.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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21 Responses to The miracle of the blood of San Gennaro in Naples

  1. Did it Liquefy today????? :(

  2. Vincenzo says:

    Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Did it Liquefy today????? :(

    “Naples, September 19 – The Miracle of San Gennaro was repeated on Monday when the blood of Naples’ patron saint liquefied at 9.30am…”

  3. Louis says:

    Where can I find the scientific proof? [For a miracle?]

  4. ReginaMarie says:

    My brother-in-law was able to witness this incredible miracle when he was spending a semester studying in Rome in the early 90s.

  5. KAS says:

    This would be something incredibly special to see one day.

  6. robtbrown says:

    It seems the saint’s blood is more liquid than the Italian economy.

  7. UncleBlobb says:

    St. Januarius, pray for us!

  8. Alan Aversa says:

    I read about this is my missal. Interesting

  9. Fr. Jay over at ipadre just posted a podcast about San Genaro too!

  10. Supertradmum says:

    God works in such mysterious ways…I am so glad the holy saint’s blood liquefied.

  11. TopSully says:

    Is there a reason why some scientists believe in the existence of black holes when there is no direct proof, only observable reactions, but don’t believe in sacred miracles such as the miracle of San Genaro that have no direct proof, only observable reactions?

  12. Father K says:

    The reformers of the Roman Calendar in the late sixties wanted to remove St Januarius from the Calendar because he, like some other saints, such as St Christopher and St Catherine of Alexandria were thought to be of doubtful historical worth…try telling the Neopolitans that!

  13. The miracle takes place a couple times a year (Deo gratias!) and draws many pilgrims (IE tourists), and still the Italians have an austerity package would cancel holidays linked to patron saints. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/business/global/critics-of-italian-austerity-plan-find-rallying-point.html?_r=1

  14. Centristian says:

    St. Januarius’ Day means only one thing to me: Summer’s over. I always think of the lyrics of the Blue Rodeo song “Sad Nights”:

    “Last days of Summer, San Gennaro Feast,
    There’s music hanging in the air and dancing in the streets.
    People line the corners and they stand beside the fires,
    And I’m watching from my window as the sparks go by.”

  15. Federico says:

    Warning! Nitpick alert!

    It’s not “The miracle of the blood of San Genaro in Naples,” it’s “The miracle of the blood of San GeNNaro in Naples.”

  16. Re: observational science vs. experimental science, I think you’ll find that a great deal of inter-field fussin’ and feudin’ goes on, over just such distinctions. Astronomers take a great deal of joy in the odd demonstration or experiment that they _can_ do. Linguistics people sometimes get inferiority complexes over this sort of thing, unless they go out and do exotic fieldwork (even though you can make some really good observations of language in your own mouth), and folks who do historical social sciences really have to be sternminded about the basic uncertainties involved. :)

  17. Anyway, the point is that today’s skeptics take the wrong attitude. Even if they don’t believe it’s a miracle, they should be happy to observe an interesting phenomenon or “freak of nature”, and then enjoy pondering mechanisms and rationales. It’s a nice thought experiment for them. But of course most skeptics today think everything that’s the least bit odd is a deliberate fraud and an attack on their brains.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Father K says:

    The reformers of the Roman Calendar in the late sixties wanted to remove St Januarius from the Calendar because he, like some other saints, such as St Christopher and St Catherine of Alexandria were thought to be of doubtful historical worth…try telling the Neopolitans that!

    And of course, the Feast of Joachim and Anna remained . . . without historical evidence.

  19. irishgirl says:

    And St. Catherine of Alexandria is now back on the Roman Calendar!

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    irishgirl,
    Hurrah! She is my daughter’s name-saint (one of them, anyhow!)
    When she graduated from college, I got her an art-quality print of this painting as a gift:
    http://www.casa-in-italia.com/artpx/quat/images/Bergognone_London_NG_Virgin_Child_SCatherine_Alexandria_Siena_c1490.JPG