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Bad Omen? San Gennaro’s blood did not liquify

Relics of St. Gennaro – en

© Paola Magni

Aleteia - published on 12/19/16 - updated on 06/07/17

A rare occurrence, failure of saint's blood to liquify on December 16, seen as a harbinger of difficult times ahead

[Editor’s note: The image above shows the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius in 2015]

La Stampa reports that the dried blood of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius failed) to liquefy in a ceremony in Naples, and that failure is being taken by some as a harbinger of bad news.

While Catholics are always urged to have faith and pray, and not dwell on “disasters and calamities”, the failure of the relic to liquefy on December 16 (the first failure on any devotional occasion since 1980) will cause consternation for some.

On that date in 1631, the lava from an eruption on Mount Vesuvius stopped just outside of the city of Naples, a circumstance that was credited to San Gennaro, that patron saint of Napoli. Since that event, the blood — contained in reliquary ampules — has liquified every year, with the exception of a few notable years where a failure to do so seems to have forecasted difficult times ahead.

  • In 1939 and 1940, dates coinciding with the beginning of World War II and Italy’s entry into it, and in 1943, when the Nazi occupation began.
  • In 1973, there was also no liquification, and Naples was hit with an epidemic of cholera. In 1980, Irpinia earthquake occurred.

The ceremony of the blood of Saint Januarius, or San Gennaro, is performed several times a year.

Januarius was a 3rd century bishop of Naples, who was beheaded by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, during whose rein of terror, over 3,000 Christians were slain.

As this report was being written, news is breaking of the murder of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov, in Ankara. A good time to consider the perspective of Abbot Monsignor Vincenzo De Gregorio, who oversees the chapel responsible for the relic, and who told the people after the liquefaction did not occur: “We must not think about disasters and calamities. We are men of faith, and we must continue to pray.”

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