The Blood of San Gennaro
If you go to Naples – and please go to Naples – a city where life is lived on the streets and people are ready to smile and laugh at the smallest thing. The poor are rich. They have what really matters: family and community. And they are so open to anyone who obviously loves them and their beautiful city.
And if you go, try and go during the Feast of San Gennaro which takes place in the cathedral of Naples. The cathedral houses a vial of the blood of Saint Januarius (San Gennaro), the city’s patron saint, which is brought out twice a year, on the first Saturday in May and on the 19 September, when the dried blood usually liquefies. If the blood fails to liquefy, then legend has it that disaster will befall Naples.
You don’t have to be a Catholic or even a believer to be moved by the emotion in the cathedral on those days.
On March 21, 2015, the blood in the vial appeared to liquify during a visit by Pope Francis. This was taken as a sign of the saint’s favour of the pope. The blood didn’t liquify when Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2007.
The cathedral is full – the pews filled up early and now there is only standing room. Outside, crowds gather, waiting, waiting, waiting for the good news that the blood has liquified.
Finally, the cardinal appears – the blood in the vial has liquified. Naples is safe once again.