Lieto San Gennaro
NAPLES -- Thousands of people packed into this city's cathedral Monday morning to watch the blood of patron saint San Gennaro liquefy in the repetition of a centuries-old 'miracle.' The miracle officially took place at 09.56 (07.56gmt) and was announced by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Michele Giordano, who held up a phial containing the blood while a white handkerchief was waved from the altar to the applause of the crowd. This year the miracle took on special importance because it marked 1,700 years from the martyrdom of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) in 305 AD .Further proof that none beat my kind in the Superstition Department.
Aside from the faithful, leading local politicians attended the ceremony which was also broadcast live by a host of national and international TV networks .
Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Jervolino said the liquefaction was "a sign that San Gennaro is still protecting our city. It was also a strong sign of hope and, I'd say, encouragement for everyone to work for the common good." Cardinal Giordano expressed a similar view in his sermon in which he said that "solidarity should be considered as a new civic virtue." The dried blood of the saint is preserved in two glass phials and traditionally liquefies three times a year, allegedly thanks to the devotion and prayers of the faithful.
Aside from the anniversary of the saint's beheading, the miracle also takes place on December 16, to commemorate the 1631 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius believed to have been halted by the saint's intervention, and again on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May.
By the by, Cardinal Giordano -- a colorful figure in Italian life -- turns 75 a week from today.... Could it be Sepe holding that vial the next time around?
PHOTO: AP/Salvatore Laporta