If you remember, last year we briefly discussed St. Januarius’ martyrdom during the persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Naples—which means “New Town”—was actually an old city by then, in AD 305.
When they beheaded the bishop Januarius, a Christian woman preserved some of the blood in a vial. The church of Naples preserves that vial to this day, in the cathedral. The blood miraculously liquefies on the anniversary of Januarius’ martyrdom. Almost every year.
Not that we Christians would ever fall into superstitions about things like this… But it is true that in the years when St. Januarius’ blood failed to liquefy miraculously, some bad things happened.
Like the year when the blood failed to liquefy, and World War II started. Or three years later, when it failed to liquefy, and the Nazis occupied Italy. Or a few decades later, when the blood failed to liquefy, and Naples suffered an outbreak of cholera. Or a few years later, when the miracle didn’t happen, and there was an earthquake.
So I guess it shows that my heart partially remains in Italy: the first thing I did when I awoke this morning was to check the internet to make sure that St. Januarius blood liquefied in Naples, on schedule.
It did. We can all relax.
Seriously, though. We can do more than relax. We can lavish our love upon Jesus Christ, like the woman who anointed his feet with oil and wiped them with her hair.
St. Januarius imitated her by offering his very life for Christ. The annual miracle of Januarius’ blood is secondary. The main thing is that he shed it willingly for Jesus in the first place.