Monday, September 19, 2011

The Miracle of St. Januarius

Every year on September 19 (today), thousands of people assemble at the cathedral in Naples to witness the miracle of the blood of Saint Januarius. This miracle has occurred annually since AD 1389.

Saint Januarius was the bishop of Naples and received the palm of martyrdom under Diocletian's persecution of the Catholic Church (ca. AD 303).

Somehow samples of the martyr's blood were acquired and stored in a small vial. Today, this vial contains a dark reddish dried residue.

On the feastday, the archbishop of Naples holds up the reliquary containing the blood and shows that the vials contain the dry and solid remains of blood. Next, the archbishop places the reliquary on top of the altar of Saint Clare along with the bones of the saint.

The people begin to pray and shout and then the blood begins to liquify. The archbishop then moves the reliquary around to show that the once solid contents are not liquid . The Neapolitans commemorate the miracle with a 21 gun salute. The liquified blood remains in the vial on the altar for 8 days.

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