Image: The Martyrdom of Saint Januarius | Neri di Bicci
Saint of the Day for September 19
Saint Januarius (c. 300)
Saint Januarius' Story
Little is known about the life of Januarius. He is believed to have been martyred in the Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of 305. Legend has it that Januarius and his companions were thrown to the bears in the amphitheater of Pozzuoli, but the animals failed to attack them. They were then beheaded, and Januarius' blood ultimately brought to Naples.
"A dark mass that half fills a hermetically sealed four-inch glass container, and is preserved in a double reliquary in the Naples cathedral as the blood of St. Januarius, liquefies 18 times during the year...Various experiments have been applied, but the phenomenon eludes natural explanation...." [From the Catholic Encyclopedia]
It is defined Catholic doctrine that miracles can happen and are recognizable. Problems arise, however, when we must decide whether an occurrence is unexplainable in natural terms, or merely unexplained. We do well to avoid an excessive credulity but, on the other hand, when even scientists speak about “probabilities” rather than “laws” of nature, it is something less than imaginative for Christians to think that God is too “scientific” to work extraordinary miracles to wake us up to the everyday miracles of sparrows and dandelions, raindrops and snowflakes.
Saint Januarius is the Patron Saint of: