The blood relic of St. Gennaro, patron saint of Naples, today miraculously liquefied in the presence of Pope Francis, the first time the miracle has occured in the presence of a pontiff since 1848.
“His blood has half-liquefied,” the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, said at the conclusion of Pope Francis’ address to diocesan priests and religious in the city’s cathedral. “It’s a sign that St. Gennaro loves the Pope, who is Neapolitan like us.”
Pope Francis immediately and lightheartedly replied: “The archbishop said the blood is half-liquefied. It means the saint loves us halfway. We all have to convert a little more so that he loves us more.”
Today’s wondrous occurance knows just one precedent. It is the first time St. Gennaro’s blood relic has liquefied in the presence of a pontiff since the miracle occurred in the presence of Pope Pius IX in 1848.
Pius IX was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church (31 years). He convened the First Vatican Council, which decreed papal infallibility; defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, meaning that Mary was conceived without original sin; and he was the last Pope to rule as the sovereign of the papal states which fell to the Italian army in 1870.
Fleeing the Mazzini riots in 1848, Pope Pius IX was rescued by a ship sent by Francis II of Bourbon, who took him to the Royal Palace of Portici. The Pope expressed his desire to go to the Cathedral of Naples. There the miracle of St. Gennaro occurred in his presence.
As a token of his gratitude, the pontiff donated a golden chalice to the cathedral in the saint’s honor. The chalice is today numbered among the “Ten Wonders of the Treasure of St. Gennaro.”
As Cardinal Sepe today announced the miracle, in the adjacent streets people could be heard shouting with neapolitan passion: “It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle!”
In fact, the mysterious liquefying of the blood relic has rarely occurred outside the “canonical” date. The dried blood of St. Gennaro, which is preserved in two glass phials in the Naples Cathedral, traditionally liquefies three times a year: on the saint’s September 19 feast, which commemorates his martyrdom in the Catholic liturgical calendar; December 16, the date of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 1631, which was believed to have been halted through the saint’s intervention; and the Saturday before the first Sunday in May.
St. Gennaro was bishop of Naples and is a saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Historical sources claim he was martyred in the year 305 during the Diocletian persecution.
According to legend, St. Gennaro’s blood was saved by a woman called Eusebia just after his death. The practice of gathering blood for relics was a common practice beginning in the days of persecution when the early Christians soaked cloths in the blood shed by martyrs or, if possible, actually collected the liquid in flasks to keep as devotional items. In the catacombs these flasks were buried with the dead. Their discovery indicated that the person had died a martyr.
After his meeting with priests and consecrated religious in the Naples cathedral, Pope Francis will greet the sick in the Basilica of Gesù, followed by a meeting with young people on the Caracciolo sea-front.
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.
“It is in place to note that according to the Jewish Bible, no miracle, not even a resurrection, can justify Jesus’ claims for divinity – Deuteronomy 13:2-6“
“Rome, Italy, Mar 21, 2015 / 01:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While Pope Francis was giving some advice to the religious, priests and seminarians of Naples on Saturday, a miracle occurred: a vial of dried blood from a fourth century saint liquefied.
This stunning but locally known and accepted phenomenon is said to happen three times a year: May 1, Sept. 19, which is the saint’s feast day, and Dec. 16.
The last time this occured with a Pope was in 1848 with Pius IX. It didn’t happen when St. John Paul II visited the city in October of 1979, or when Benedict XVI went in October of 2007.
The blood belongs to St. Januarius, Patron of Naples and former bishop and martyr of the city, whose bones are also preserved in the cathedral. He’s believed to have been martyred during the infamous persecution of Christians during the rule of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who retired in 305.
On March 21, at the end of the meeting with priests, religious and seminarians in the cathedral of Naples, the Pope gave a blessing with the relic. When received by the cardinal of the diocese, Crescenzio Sepe, the blood was still solid on one side of the vial.
When Pope Francis returned the reliquary, the cardinal told him: “It seems that St. Januarius loves the Pope, because the blood is already half liquefied.”
For the miracle to occur, it’s necessary to wait several minutes before the dried, red-colored mass confined to one side of the reliquary becomes blood that covers the entire glass.
Francis quipped in response: “you can see that the saint only loves us a little. We have to convert more,” drawing laughter from those within earshot.”
Christianity claims to be the only path to salvation before God. Many individual Christian denominations take this claim one step further with the assertion that this path leads exclusively through membership in their particular church.
This claim is not unique to Christianity. Many religions lay claim to exclusive possession of the way to eternal reward. What is different about Christianity is that its claim is refuted through its own accusation against Judaism. Christianity’s claim to exclusivity is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory – in a word: hypocritical.
You see, Christianity acknowledges that before the advent of Jesus, the Jewish people enjoyed a unique relationship with God. Judaism does not claim that the path to God is limited to membership in the Jewish community. According to Judaism, any human being who acknowledges his or her debt to the Creator, and lives a life in line with the conscience that God planted into our hearts, will be rewarded by God. But Judaism does claim that the Jewish people stand in a special relationship with God as a chosen nation.
Christianity contends that the Jewish people forfeited this singular standing before God. I will allow Matthew’s Jesus to present the position of the Church.
“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:33-43)
The meaning of the parable is obvious. The owner of the vineyard is God, the husbandman is the Jewish people, the son is Jesus, and the “nation bringing fruits thereof” is the Christian Church. According to Matthew’s Jesus, killing the “son” warranted that the kingdom of God be taken from the Jews.
Let us now see how Christianity fares according to the judgment it pronounced against Judaism.
We will note that there are many extenuating factors that mitigate the alleged guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus;
Even according to the biased narrative of the Christian Scriptures, it was not the Jews who killed Jesus, it was the Romans.
The number of Jews that could have been involved in his death had to be minuscule. The majority of Jews that were alive then could not all have been in that place at that one point in time.
Even those Jews who might have been involved in his death could not be considered representatives of Judaism as a belief system. The core texts of Judaism do not preach hatred against Jesus. On the contrary, the Jewish Scriptures that were venerated by the Jewish people of the time, devote more space to the castigation of the Jewish nation than they do in criticism of her enemies.
The hateful and sinister motivations attributed by Matthew’s Jesus to the Jewish people (-“This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.”) is contradicted by John. According to Matthew, the Jews recognize that Jesus is “the heir” and their motivation for killing him was to “seize on his inheritance”. According to John the Jews were motivated to move against Jesus because they considered him a blasphemer (John 10:33), and feared that his activities will provoke the Romans to take action against the larger community (John 11:48).
Even the Christians, who accept Jesus’ claims, must acknowledge there was no way that the Jews could have known, before the alleged resurrection, that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Matthew’s Jesus declares that the generation will be given no sign except for his pending resurrection (Matthew 16:4). Thus before his alleged resurrection, the people had no way of clearly and conclusively verifying his claims. (It is in place to note that according to the Jewish Bible, no miracle, not even a resurrection, can justify Jesus’ claims for divinity – Deuteronomy 13:2-6.)
Still and all, despite all of these mitigating factors, Christianity asserts that the Jewish people have had “the kingdom of God” taken from them because they killed someone who claimed to be God’s son.
Let us now see how Christianity has dealt with the one who is explicitly identified by the Jewish Bible as God’s firstborn son. The Jewish Scriptures repeatedly and openly declare that the Jewish people are God’s children, His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Jeremiah 31:8).
How did the Church treat God’s firstborn son?
A cursory glance at Church history reveals that the Church poisoned the minds of mankind against the Jewish people. They oppressed, tortured and killed millions of Jews from the days of Constantine until the holocaust.
None of the extenuating factors that mitigate the guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus apply to the guilt of Christendom in the persecution of the Jew.
It was the Christians and the Church themselves who persecuted and killed countless Jews.
The number of Christians involved in these crimes reach the millions over the centuries.
The core texts of Christianity preach this very hatred of God’s firstborn son, and the greatest scholars in Church history understood the texts to mean precisely what they say – that the Jews are no less than the children of the devil.
The motive that the Church had to persecute the Jews is obvious to every student of history. The Church was attempting to seize the inheritance of the Jewish people. They wanted the blessings that God had promised to the Jewish people, and the fact that the Jews were still claiming those blessings, and the fact that their claim is more credible than the claim of the Church, was a thorn in their side.
The Church was in possession of all of the evidence that is necessary to prove that the Jewish people are truly God’s son; namely the Jewish Bible.
So, if the Jewish people had “the kingdom of God taken from them” because of the death of Jesus, what happens to the Church for the death of millions of Jews?
Oh, I forgot the excuses. “Those weren’t real Christians, those murderers cannot be considered true representatives of the Church, “real Christians” helped and saved Jews etc.”
All of these excuses, and more are applicable to the Jewish people in relation to the death of Jesus. But Matthew’s Jesus brushes all of these excuses aside and passes his harsh judgment against the Jewish people of all generations. If these excuses are not accepted by Matthew’s Jesus, they cannot work for the Church.
According to the Church’s own judgment, they cannot be the exclusive masters of the “kingdom of God”. If a one time act took the kingdom away from the entirety of the Jewish people, then 2000 years of widespread persecution should have done the same for the Church.
The judgment that Matthew’s Jesus pronounces against the Jewish people condemns the Christian Church and effectively nullifies her theological claims.