Jul 01, 2023 678 Graziano Marcheschi, USA

Amazing Miracle!

Saint Januarius (or San Gennaro, as he is known in his native Italy) was born in Naples during the second century to a wealthy aristocratic family. He was ordained a priest at the remarkable age of fifteen. By age twenty, he was bishop of Naples. During the Christian persecution begun by the emperor Diocletian, Januarius hid many Christians, including his former classmate, Sossius, who would also become a saint. Sossius was exposed as a Christian and imprisoned. When Januarius visited him in jail, he too was arrested. Stories vary as to whether he and his fellow Christians were thrown to wild animals that refused to attack them or into a furnace from which they emerged unharmed.

But all the stories agree that Januarius was eventually beheaded around the year 305 A.D. And this is where the story gets very interesting. Pious followers gathered some of his blood into glass vials and preserved it as a relic. That blood, preserved to this day, manifests remarkable qualities. On three occasions each year, as it has since this miracle first occurred in 1389, the coagulated blood liquefies.

Stored in glass ampules, the dried dark red blood that clings to one side of the vessel miraculously turns to liquid that fills the bottle from side to side. Besides his feast day, September 19, the miracle also occurs on the day his remains were moved to Naples and the anniversary of Naples being spared from the effects of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1631.

Several scientific investigations have tried and failed to explain how solid blood can become liquefied. And any trickery or foul play has been excluded.

Joyous shouts of: “The miracle has happened!” fill the Naples Cathedral as the faithful kiss the reliquary that holds the saint’s blood. What an amazing gift God has given the Church in this remarkable saint, and in the miracle that each year reminds us of how Gennaro—and so many others—shed their blood for the sake of their Lord. As Tertullian said, ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’


Graziano Marcheschi

Graziano Marcheschi serves as the Senior Programming Consultant for Shalom World. He speaks nationally and internationally on topics of liturgy and the arts, scripture, spirituality, and lay ecclesial ministry. Graziano and his wife Nancy are blessed with two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren and live in Chicago.

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