Thursday, September 19, 2013

Saint Januarius

Martyrdom of St Januarius

St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento during the Emperor Diocletian’s persecutions, who was one of the most ruthless Emperors. Bishop Januarius went to visit two deacons and two laymen in prison. He was then also imprisoned along with them. They were thrown to the wild beasts, but when the animals did not attack them, they were beheaded. What is believed to be Januarius' blood is kept in the Cathedral of Naples, as a relic. It liquifies and bubbles miraculously when exposed in the Cathedral. St Januarius died in 305 A.D.
A dark mass that half fills a hermetically sealed four-inch glass container, is preserved in a double reliquary and liquifies 3 times during a year. Tradition connects it with a certain Eusebia, who had allegedly collected the blood after the martyrdom. The ceremony accompanying the liquefaction is performed by holding the reliquary close to the altar on which is located what is believed to be the martyr's head. While the people pray, often tumultuously, the Bishop turns the reliquary up and down in the full sight of the onlookers until the liquefaction takes place. This has been going on for the past 600 years. Various experiments have been applied, but the phenomenon eludes natural explanation. Similar miraculous claims were made for the blood of John the Baptist, Stephen, Nicholas of Tolentino and Aloysius Gonzaga — nearly all in the neighborhood of Naples

Cardinal of Naples showing liquified blood of St Januarius
Many residents of Naples believe that if the saint’s blood does not turn to liquid form, it is a sign that some tragedy will befall the city. The miracle did not occur in 1980, and an earthquake south of Naples caused over 2,500 deaths. In the most distant past, the absence of the regular miracle was associated with military losses, volcanic eruptions, and outbreaks of the plague. The important thing to realize and believe is that there is something even more special that turns into blood – the consecrated wine during Mass that becomes the Blood of Christ, just as the bread turns into the real Body of Christ.

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