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St. Januarius’ blood liquifies for first time in 2022

May 3, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Archbishop Domenico Battaglia leads a procession in honor of St. Januarius in Naples, Italy, on April 30, 2022. / Jacob Stein’s Instagram account Crux Stationalis.

Rome Newsroom, May 3, 2022 / 08:10 am (CNA).

For the first time in three years, Catholics held a solemn procession through the streets of Naples on the first weekend of May after the blood of St. Januarius was found liquefied.

Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples opened the safe holding the relic of St. Januarius’ blood in Naples Cathedral on April 30 and found that the blood had already liquefied.

The reputed miracle usually occurs up to three times a year when the archbishop holds up and rotates the ampoules containing blood, revealing that the dried blood has liquified.

In Neapolitan lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or other disaster.

Local Catholics gathered at the cathedral after 5 p.m. on April 30 and exclaimed: “The miracle has happened!”

A bust of St. Januarius and the ampoules holding the saint’s blood were then carried in a traditional procession through the narrow streets of Naples from the cathedral to the Basilica of St. Clare.

Jacob Stein, an American, and a friend were visiting Naples when they stumbled upon the procession with the relic of St. Januarius, who is known in Italian as San Gennaro.

“My friend and I looked at each other and said, ‘I guess we are processing with San Gennaro tonight,’” Stein told CNA.

“Shoulder to shoulder, we processed behind San Gennaro who had come from the Duomo [cathedral] and ended at the Monastery of Santa Chiara with Holy Mass. On the streets, many were looking from the windows and balconies. You could hear ‘Alleluia’ and ‘Viva, San Gennaro!’ as we passed the piazzas.”

“The occasional confetti gun went off above our heads, as Neapolitans joined the procession in the many-layered, chaotic yet full expression of their religious procession throughout the small streets of Naples.”

Januarius’ blood also liquefied in May 2020 and 2021, but the celebratory processions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2019 procession was canceled due to adverse weather conditions.

During the Mass to mark the liquefaction, Archbishop Battaglia highlighted St. Januarius’ faithfulness to the Gospel by following Jesus to the point of martyrdom.

St. Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, was a bishop in the third century who is believed to have been martyred during the Christian persecution of Emperor Diocletian.

“If we are here tonight it is because Bishop Januarius took this Word seriously, following the Lord Jesus to the end, even to the point of shedding his blood, even to the point of giving his life, knowing that there is no greater love than one who gives his life for his friends,” Battaglia said in his homily.

The archbishop also condemned the violence he has witnessed in the city of Naples since his installation in 2020.

“Too many times in this still short time I have lived here in Naples have I had to caress the faces of young mothers wounded by the unprecedented pain of the loss of their child, killed through no fault of their own, perhaps in the context of an argument between boys,” he said.

The 59-year-old archbishop said that the sign of the liquefaction of Januarius’ blood was an invitation to the people of Naples to work to “stop the flow of innocent blood, the hands of brothers who hurl themselves against brothers, the wounds that tear the social, educational, economic fabric of our city and the whole world.”

He asked for St. Januarius’ intercession to stop not only the violence in his archdiocese, but also to bring an end to the “blood still flowing” in the war in Ukraine.

“How important is all this in such a complex, difficult, heavy time in which the blood of our martyr Januarius, a luminous sign of the blood of the One who loved us by offering Himself for us on the cross, continually reminds us of the blood of so many small, innocent victims of evil, violence, malfeasance, and war,” Battaglia said.

Stein and his friend experienced some of the crime in the city of Naples on a small scale when they were mugged the day after the procession.

“After we recovered, we were walking to the police station to make the formal declaration of the theft. We passed a group of teenagers preparing a processional float with lilies for the Madonna dell’Arco at the start of May. They called out to us, there will be a procession at 4:30 p.m., beginning just around the corner from where we were accosted,” he said.

A local couple also invited Stein and his friend into their home for a few hours and offered them coffee, cigarettes, bruschetta, pasta, and wine.

The liquefaction of St. Januarius’ blood traditionally happens three times a year: the first Saturday of May, Sept. 19, the saint’s feast day, and Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius.


The Dispatch

Everything you need to know about the miracle of liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius

September 18, 2021 Catholic News Agency 1
Pope Francis and Cardinal Sepe hold relic of St. Januarius’ blood in Naples cathedral March 21, 2015. / CTV.

Naples, Italy, Sep 18, 2021 / 10:38 am (CNA).

On Sept. 19, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Januarius, bishop, martyr, and patron saint of Naples, Italy. Traditionally, on this day and on two other occasions a year, his blood, which is kept in a glass ampoule in the shape of a rounded cruet, liquifies. According to documentation cited by the Italian media Famiglia Cristiana, the miracle has taken place since at least 1389, the first instance on record.

Here are the key facts:

1. The blood is kept in two glass ampoules.

The dried blood of St. Januarius, who died around 305 A.D., is preserved in two glass ampoules, one larger than the other, in the Chapel of the Treasury of the Naples Cathedral.

2. The liquefaction is a miracle

The Church believes that the miracle takes place in response to the dedication and prayers of the faithful. When the miracle occurs, the mass of reddish dried blood, adhering to one side of the ampoule, turns into completely liquid blood, covering the glass from side to side.

3. The blood traditionally liquifies three times a year.

The saint’s blood traditionally liquefies three times a year: in commemoration of the transfer of his remains to Naples (the Saturday before the first Sunday in May); on his liturgical feast (Sept. 19), and on the anniversary of the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 1631 when his intercession was invoked and the city was spared from the effects of the eruption (Dec. 16).

4. The liquefaction can take days.

The liquefaction process sometimes takes hours or even days, but sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Normally, after a period that can range from two minutes to an hour, the solid mass turns red and begins to bubble.

The ampoules, which contain a dark solid mass, are enclosed in a reliquary that is held up and rotated sideways by a priest to show the blood has liquified. This is usually done by the Archbishop of Naples while the people pray.

According to the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, the reliquary with the ampoules remains on view for the faithful for eight days, during which they can kiss it while a priest turns it to show that the blood is still liquid. Then it is returned to the safety vault and locked away inside the Chapel of the Treasury of the Cathedral.

5. The faithful venerate the relic every year.

With the exclamation: “The miracle has happened!” the people approach the priest holding the reliquary to kiss the relic and sing the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving.

6. There is no scientific explanation.

Several investigations have already been conducted in the past to find a scientific explanation that answers the question of how something solid can suddenly liquefy, but none has been satisfactory so far.

7. The liquefaction does not always occur.

When the blood doesn’t liquefy, the Neapolitans take it as an omen of misfortune.

The blood did not liquefy in September 1939, 1940, 1943, 1973, 1980, nor in December 2016.

The relic also remained solid the year Naples elected a communist mayor, but it spontaneously liquefied when the late Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Terence Cooke, visited the St. Januarius shrine in 1978.

8. The blood has liquefied in the presence of some popes.

In 2015, while Pope Francis was giving some advice to the religious, priests, and seminarians of Naples, the blood liquefied again.

The last time the liquefaction occurred before a pontiff was in 1848 with Pius IX. It did not happen when John Paul II visited the city in October 1979 or in the presence of Benedict XVI in October 2007.


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Blood of St. Januarius fails to liquefy on December feast

December 16, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Rome Newsroom, Dec 16, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- In Naples, the blood of St. Januarius remained solid Wednesday, after having liquefied both in May and September this year.

“When we took the reliquary from the safe, the blood was absolutely solid and remains absolutely solid,” said Fr. Vincenzo de Gregorio, abbot of the Chapel of St. Januarius in Naples Cathedral.

De Gregorio displayed the reliquary and the solidified blood inside to those gathered after morning Mass Dec. 16 in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary.

The abbot said that the miracle sometimes occurred later in the day. In a video he could be seen saying “a few years ago at five in the afternoon, the home stretch, it liquefied. So we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“The actual state, as you can see well, is absolutely solid. It does not give any sign, not even a little drop, as sometimes falls,” he added. “It’s alright, we will await the sign with faith.”

By the end of the day’s evening Mass, however, the blood was still solid.

Dec. 16 marks the anniversary of Naples’ preservation from the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It is just one of three days per year the miracle of the liquefaction of St. Januarius’ blood often occurs.

The reputed miracle has not been officially recognized by the Church, but is known and accepted locally and is considered to be a good sign for the city of Naples and its region of Campania.  

In contrast, the failure of the blood to liquefy is believed to signal war, famine, disease, or other disasters.


“Mi raccomando state a distanza tutti quanti…mi raccomando. Abbiate pazienza.”?
“E quindi…va bene…Aspettiamo ?con fiducia il segno. Vi auguro buona giornata…”
Che bella voce, e che gentilezza Mons. De Gregorio!#sangennaro

— Sunny ?? se_vi_spinate_per_hobby_non_seguitemi (@Sunny77) December 16, 2020


But according to an Italian journalist, it is not very common for the miracle to take place on Dec. 16. The blood has liquefied most often on St. Januarius’ feast day of Sept. 19, and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May.

Vatican journalist Francesco Antonio Grana told CNA that the liquefaction “almost never” happens on Dec. 16 and that in the last 34 years the number of times it has happened “can be counted on one hand.” 

The blood also did not liquefy in December 2016.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop emeritus of Naples, said Mass in the cathedral to mark the feast day.

When the miracle still did not occur, Sepe told those gathered, “we want to make an act of true and profound devotion to our St. Januarius, we are united in his name.”

“It is he who helps us to live, to bear witness to the faith, and even if the blood does not liquefy, it does not mean goodness knows what,” the cardinal continued. “The important thing is that we feel truly united, participating in this very special event which is our devotion to our patron saint.”

Sepe’s resignation as archbishop of Naples was accepted by Pope Francis on Saturday. The 77-year-old archbishop has led the important Italian archdiocese for 14 years.

The 57-year-old Bishop Domenico Battaglia, known as a “street priest” who is close to the poor, was named as his successor.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro in Italian, is the patron saint of Naples. He was bishop of Benevento in the third century, and his bones and blood are preserved in the Naples cathedral as relics. He is believed to have been martyred during the Christian persecution of Emperor Diocletian.

When St. Januarius’ blood liquefied in September, Cardinal Sepe addressed a mostly empty cathedral, due to coronavirus restrictions. 

He announced that the blood had “completely liquefied, without any clots, which has happened in past years.”

The miracle also occurred in May, when Naples was under lockdown together with the rest of Italy.

Speaking after a livestreamed Mass at the cathedral May. 2, Sepe said: “I have a big announcement to make: even in this time of coronavirus, the Lord through the intercession of St. Januarius has liquefied the blood!” 


This story was updated at 12:32 p.m. Mountain Time to reflect the fact that St. Januarius’ blood had still failed to liquefy by the end of the day’s celebrations.