The Italian Almanac
The Miracle of San Gennaro was repeated when the blood of Naples' patron saint liquefied. The event was announced to the thousands packing the city's cathedral and square outside, who cheered and let off firecrackers. A visibly moved Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Archbishop of Naples, held up a phial containing the blood of the 3rd-century saint while a traditional white handkerchief was waved.
The ceremony was broadcast live by a host of national and international TV networks. The miracle takes place on the anniversary of the martyrdom of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) in September 305 AD. The dried blood of the saint is preserved in two glass phials and traditionally liquefies three times a year, the Church says, thanks to the devotion and prayers of the faithful.
Aside from the anniversary of the saint's beheading, the miracle also takes place on December 16 to commemorate the 1631 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, believed to have been halted by the saint's intervention, and again on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. On this occasion, there is a procession through the city's streets to recall the many times the relics have been moved over the centuries.
The liquefaction process sometimes takes hours, even days, and on occasions fails to happen at all. For the faithful and superstitious, the ritual's success is a good omen for the city while its failure is a sign of impending disaster.