Catholic News Agency/Hannah Brockhaus
The blood of the martyr St. Januarius again liquefied in Naples on Tuesday.
“We have just taken from the safe the reliquary with the blood of our patron saint, which immediately completely liquefied,” the abbot of the chapel of the treasury of the Naples Cathedral announced on Sept. 19.
The declaration that the miracle had again taken place was made at the start of Mass by Abbot Vincenzo De Gregorio.
The archbishop of Naples, Domenico Battaglia, held the relic of the blood, moving the glass ampoules to demonstrate the liquid state of the blood to the sounds of strong applause, while the deputy of the wisdom of the people waved a white cloth.
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.
It is believed the miracle has taken place since at least 1389, the first instance on record.
The liquefaction process sometimes takes hours or even days, and sometimes it does not happen at all. In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or other disaster.
At Mass Sept. 19, Battaglia spoke about the miracle and what it is — and is not.
“Every year we see firsthand how the witness of a man who generously gave his life for the Gospel, until his last breath, until his last drop of blood, is not something of the past, a historic event useful only to write about in some pages of a book,” he said.
“No,” Battaglia continued, “it’s a testimony that is present, living, current, and capable of speaking to the heart of every believer, pushing him to more consistency, beyond courage, to a life of giving, steeped in sharing.”
He reminded those present that the blood of St. Januarius “is not an oracle to consult and even less a city horoscope whose function is to predict misfortune or fortune for the city. No, the relic we bless is simply a road sign, a finger that points us to the necessity, the urgency, the requirement to follow the Gospel in a radical way, being unreservedly attracted by its liberating beauty, listening with an open heart and mind to its word of life and hope.”
Battaglia said the blood of St. Januarius makes him think of the unjust bloodshed that happens every day “whenever a person is wounded, humiliated, not respected in his dignity.”
“I believe that the real miracle will take place the day this blood [of St. Januarius] is forever hard, compact, clotted!” the archbishop said. ”Yes, I believe that the real miracle will happen when justice kisses peace, when good overpowers evil forever, when the good news of Jesus Christ dries up the pain of the world, illuminates the darkness for good, brings all things to completion, enters so deeply into the hearts of men and women that their words, their deeds, their thoughts will be nothing but goodness, benevolence, beauty.”
After the Mass, the relic of St. Januarius’ blood will remain on display for veneration in the Cathedral of Naples until Sept. 26 in thanksgiving for the miracle.