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Althalus

The Blood Of Saint Januarius

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Like many early Christian martyrs, Januarius was hard to kill. In the year AD305 the Roman Emperor Diocletian had him roasted in a furnace that had been raging for three days, but Januarius emerged unscathed. He was thrown in with wild beasts, but they simply licked his feet. Finally he was beheaded in Pozzuoli, in Italy.

A n anonymous traveller in 1389 was the first to document the miracle that followed. While friends prepared to take Januarius's body to Naples, a woman of Pozzuoli carefully collected the blood in two bottles. Some time later Januarius's ghosts directed a citizen to go find the severed head, which had rolled into a thicket. Head and body were reunited, just as the woman with his bottled blood appeared. As she approached, the bottled blood began to bubble and liquefy.

Ever since, the blood of St. Januarius has liquefied in Naples several times in the course of a year - on the first sunday in may, on his fest day of 19th September, and on the 16th of December - attracting crowds to the cathedral where the blood is preserved. Many believe it has miraculous healing power, but on occasion it has failed to liquefy and this has been deemed a sinister omen.

At the end of the 19th Century the soldiers of Napoleon's invading army were curious about stories of the liquefication. When the priests brought out their prized possesion, an army chemist claimed that it was only wax, passed discreetly over a flame to make it liqefy. The French scattered the Saints relics, but later they were recovered and the ceremonies resumed.

But more intrigue was to follow. In 1921 and English doctor, Frederick Newton Williams, was visiting the hospital dispensary at Naples when an acolyte from the cathedral arraived and requested 'the usual mixture' for the festivities the next day. The chemist prepared the a mixture of beef bile and sodium sulphate for the youth. To his visitor the chemist said, 'As you can see, miracles happen even in our own day - but nowadays they happen in hospital dispensaries.'

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They run news stories on this phenomenom here all the time . I tend to think this is what I would call a true miracle.

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