The Miracle of San Gennaro

SEPT. 19 - NAPLES - The phenomenon known as the Miracle of San Gennaro first occurred in the 14th century, when two vials of the saint's blood were placed next to his head. Miraculously, the blood of the fourth century martyr, which had been dried and hardened for over 1,000 years, began to liquify and boil, an act hailed as a miracle by the Christians of the time. Since then, the anniversary of this miracle has been observed in Naples annually, and with few exceptions the phenomenon has happened every year, bringing a blessing to Naples and its citizens.

For this year's observance, we were on hand to witness the event in the cathedral of Naples. Arriving a bit late in the morning, we found we had missed the first half of the Mass. But when the second half went on for two hours, we didn't mind as much. At the end, the archbishop asked the congregation to return at 3:00, by which time the power of prayer would have its desired effect on the vials of San Gennaro's blood.

Sure enough, when we came back with several hundred Neapolitans, a priest walked back and forth in front of us with the vials, demonstrating that the blood had indeed liquified. He proceeded to touch the vials to everyone's foreheads and hearts, blessing all those assembled (including us).

Fortunately for Naples, the Miracle happened again this year; if the blood of Naples' patron saint fails to liquify, it is taken as an omen of bad things to come for Naples. And fortunate for us as well; as luck would have it, the Miracle fell on our five-year anniversary, so hopefully we will be blessed with five more happy years!

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