St. Januarius was the 4th century bishop of Benevento, Italy. He is famous for the miracle of his blood liquefying on his feast day. He is the patron saint of Naples.

His Life

We don’t have reliable information about his life other than his episcopacy and his persecution under the Emperor Diocletian around 305 AD. We do have an account gathered by St. Bede:

At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian.

In other accounts, we hear of St. Januarius and his companions being thrown into a fiery furnace. The flames did not affect them and so they were thrown into the amphitheater with wild beasts. Again, nothing happened.

Finally, they were ordered to be beheaded. Before this could happen, the executioner went blind. St. Januarus promptly healed him. Five thousand people converted to Christ before the martyrs were finally beheaded.

The Liquefaction

For the past 400 years, a reliquary with St. Januarius’s blood has regularly liquefied. These moments include:
  • His feast day, September 19th
  • December 16th celebrating his role as patron of Naples
  • The Saturday before the first Sunday of May, celebrating the reunification of his relics
  • Visits from popes
The Blood of St. Januarius in 2009 by Paola Migni
The Blood of St. Januarius in 2009 by Paola Migni
 
The first recorded liquefaction was in 1389. Over the next two and a half centuries, it went from once per year to three times per year.

Since the 17th century, his blood has been inside a silver reliquary.

Scientific Analysis and Vatican Approval

Various scientists have looked for a scientific explanation over the centuries. This included heat, movement, and even psychic abilities. None could explain the miracle.

The Vatican does not have an official view stance on the miraculous nature of the blood. Despite this, popes still visit and venerate the relic, including Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.