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Saint Januarius

Saint Januarius
  • Century: 3rd & 4th Century
  • Patronage: Blood Banks, Volcanic Eruptions, Naples
  • Feast Day: September 19th

Little is known of the life of Januarius other than he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family.  At age 15, he became the local Priest of his parish in Benevento, which was pagan.  At the age of 20, he became the Bishop of Naples and was a friend of Juliana of Nicomedia and St. Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies.  

During the one and a half year persecutions of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he was said to have hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught.  Unfortunately while visiting St. Sossius in jail, he too was arrested.  He and his colleagues were condemned to be thrown to the wild bears n the Flavian Amphitheater.  The sentence was changed due to fear of a public disturbance, and they were instead beheaded at the Solfatara crater near Pozzuoli. 

An interesting story that has been passed down by Christian sources such as Acta Bononensia, state that the ghosts of Januarius and St. Martin appeared to St. Paulinus three days before his death in 431.  It also says that he was, “Bishop and Martyr, an illustrious member of the Neapolitan Church”.  It also says he was chained and imprisoned with Festus his Deacon, Desiderius his lector, and St. Sossius – Deacon of the Church of Misenum, and then beheaded.  

St. Januarius is famous for the miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood.  According to legend, a woman called Eusebia just after the Saints death saved some of his blood.  Thousands of faithful assemble to witness this event in Naples Cathedral, three times a Year; September 19th – to commemorate his martyrdom, December 16th – to celebrate his patronage of Naples, and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May – to commemorate the reunification of his relics.  Liquefaction of a Saints blood is not a unique phenomenon, the blood of Saints Patricia, John the Baptist, and St. Pantaleon are said to liquefy annual, and this liquefication of coagulated blood is peculiar to this region, and not known to happen annually elsewhere in the world.  It was thought by some to be a protection of the unexpected lava bursts flowing from Mt. Vesuvius.  That is the reason for St. Januarius patronage of Blood Banks, Volcanic Eruptions, and Naples.  

Practical Take Away 

St. Januarius was a gifted, spiritual man at an early age.  He studied the faith and was Ordained as his parish priest at the age of 15.  By the age of 20, he was elected as the Bishop of Naples.  He was noted for converting a pagan area in our early church, even hiding the faithful for 1-½ years from the persecutions of Diocletion.  He was eventually arrested, imprisoned, chained, and finally beheaded as a martyr for the Faith.  He knew his life was in danger with his efforts of converting Christians, but he didn’t let that stop him – instead laid his life down for others, so they may come to know Jesus.