St Januarius Bishop Martyr
St Januarius Bishop Martyr (-c.305)
Next to nothing is historically known about the life and death of St Januarius, but he is believed to have been Bishop of Beneventum in southern Italy and to have suffered for the faith under Diocletian. Legend has it that, he, together with a number of Deacons and Lectors, was thrown to wild bears and then decapitated.
His relics in the cathedral of Naples are famous for the regularly recurring Miracolo di San Gennaro. Here, in a silver and glass reliquary, are enshrined two hermetically sealed phials of the holy Bishop’s blood, traditionally believed to have been collected by a certain Eusebia. Normally appearing as a dark solid mass, 18 times on three public occasions during the year, when this reliquary is brought near the silver bust which encases the Saint’s head, defying all scientific explanation it liquefies, turning a bright ruby red, and frothing and bubbling as though it were just shed, while at the same time it increases in volume and, as has been ascertained by scientific measurements, also in weight. Observations carried on for over 100 years prove that the temperature in the church has no effect on the blood, nor has the moving of the reliquary or the number of spectators. Written records show that the liquefaction of the blood was known to have first occurred in c.1389, i.e., over 7 centuries ago. St Januarius is Patron of Naples and its protector against the eruptions of nearby Mt Vesuvius.