The Miracle of the Blood
Those fortunate enough to be in Naples on Saint Januarius Day (19 September) should head to the Chapel of San Gennaro to witness the truly mystifying - and quintessentially Neapolitan - event known as the 'Miracle of the Blood'. Massive crowds gather to watch as the archbishop brings forth an ampoule containing the dried, congealed blood of the martyred Saint Januarius - and then all begin to pray fervently for the blood to miraculously re-liquefy. Local lore has it that when this miracle does not occur, tragedy will befall Naples - and historians point to events such as a plague in 1597 and an earthquake in 1980 that seem to bear this superstition out. The subject of quite a lot of scientific scrutiny - and as yet, no definitive conclusions - the Miracle of the Blood is certainly an interesting cultural phenomenon, if nothing else, and a wonderful way to engage with the very heart and soul of Neapolitan culture. The ceremony even had quite a profound effect on German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who was moved to open his treatise The Gay Science with a poem called "Sanctus Januarius".
Date: 19 September 2013