The blood of St. Januarius, patron saint of the city of Naples, liquefied on Sunday, September 19, on the feast of the saint, in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary.
“Before the Mass, Naples Archbishop Domenico Battaglia went to the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of St. Januarius with Msgr. Vincenzo de Gregorio, the chapel’s abbot, and city mayor Luigi De Magistris.”
The archbishop opened the safe containing a reliquary with a sealed vial containing the blood of the bishop, martyred in the third century during the Diocletian persecution. “During the miracle, the dried, red-colored mass confined to one side of the reliquary becomes blood that covers the entire glass.” If the blood fails to liquefy, it usually signals war, famine, disease, or other disasters.”
At 10 a.m., the Archbishop brought the reliquary to the cathedral's high altar and presented it to the faithful, declaring: “The blood has liquefied.”
Liquefaction traditionally occurs at least three times a year: September 19, the saint's feast day, the first Saturday in May, and December 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius which left 4,000 dead, but spared the city of Naples.
Examples in recent history where blood has not liquefied abound: in September 1939, a few weeks after the start of World War II; in September 1940, in correspondence with the entry of Italy into the conflict; in September 1943, the date of the Nazi occupation; in September 1973, before the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in Naples; as well as in September 1980, a month before a terrible earthquake struck Irpinia, near Naples, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Officially, the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius is not considered a miracle, but a “prodigious event.”