By Christina Hermoso
The Roman Catholic Church marks on Wednesday the Feast of Saint Januarius (Italian: San Gennaro), who served as bishop of Naples in Italy during the Third Century.
Venerated as a martyr by the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, St. Januarius is the patron saint of Naples, where the faithful gather three times a year at his major shrine at the Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of what is believed to be a sample of his blood.
On March 2015, the Catholic Herald reported that the blood of St Januarius liquefied in the presence of Pope Francis, a phenomenon that also happened in 1848 during a papal visit.
“The blood of the patron saint of Naples, which is normally solid, partially liquefied after Pope Francis kissed the relic during his day trip to the southern Italian city,” the Catholic Herald said.
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples showed the vial to the congregation in the city’s cathedral, saying: “The blood has half liquefied, which shows that St. Januarius loves our pope and Naples.” To which, Pope Francis responded: “The bishop just announced that the blood half liquefied. We can see the saint only half loves us. We must all spread the word, so that he loves us more!”
The blood last liquefied for a pope in the presence of Pope Pius IX in 1848. The phenomenon did not occur when St. John Paul II visited Naples in 1979 and when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI visited the city in 2007.
St Januarius was believed to have been martyred around the year 305 during the Diocletian persecution. His blood is kept in a sealed glass ampoule and traditionally liquefies three times a year, on his feast day on September 19, on December 16, and the Saturday before the first Sunday of May. (Christina I. Hermoso)