Liquefying blood

San-GennaroThe Saint’s blood is currently kept in two small glass embalming jars covered in different material which were made in the early IV century. Saint Gennaro, before being nominated Patron Saint of Naples, was Patron of the Bourbon Kingdom and Captain of the Army because, as well as protecting the city from natural disasters, he was also charged with defending it from the enemy and with leading the Bourbon army to victory.
The miracle of the blood symbolises the close relationship between the people and the Saint which is confirmed every time the blood liquefies. If the miracle fails to happen it is a sign of impending disaster; the people thus pray to the Saint and beg him for help.
In May, on the Saturday before the first Sunday of the month, the Neapolitan Church remembers how the Saint’s body was moved around. This May procession is headed by silver statues of Saint Gennaro’s fellow Patron Saints followed by the Saint himself. The “procession of the statues”, which is organised by the “Deputazione della Real Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro”, goes round the streets in the old part of the city, and is applauded by the people as they go past. The procession starts at the Cathedral and finishes at the Basilica of Santa Chiara, where the miracle happens. The solid blood normally liquefies three times a year but at different times and in different ways. Sometimes it fails to liquefy, thus defying laws of physics and chemistry. The liquefying of his blood coincides with two other festivals: 19 September which is the anniversary of Gennaro’s martyrdom, and 16 December (but the miracle does not always happen on this date) which marks the date of a terrible volcanic eruption which stopped when the Saint’s intervention had been prayed for.
The miracle of Saint Gennaro’s blood has been going on for centuries now; a mix of faith, mystery and charm. It is a testimony to the piety and devotion of the Neapolitan people who, for centuries, have turned to the Saint with their greetings, requests, thanks and complaints.

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