The Miracle of San Gennaro, what it is and how it works

Miracle of San Gennaro

Three times a year, Napoli becomes the stage of a secular religious event, the “miracle of San Gennaro“, which sees the alleged transformation of blood of the saint from solid to liquid. The ritual, rooted in Neapolitan culture and tradition, attracts both faithful is tourists, curious to witness this phenomenon as mysterious as it is fascinating.

Who was San Gennaro?

San Gennaro, venerated as the patron saint of Naples, was born in the XNUMXrd century AD, subsequently becoming the Bishop of Benevento. His proselytizing activity led to his arrest and subsequent death sentence, an execution finally made possible through decapitation. Traditionally, it is believed that the blood of the saint was collected by devotees immediately after his death, giving rise to the cult that continues to this day.

Naples and the veneration of San Gennaro

A Napoli, the cult of San Gennaro it is more than a simple religious tradition: it is a cultural phenomenon that involves the entire city. The Neapolitans, together with the numerous tourists, participate fervently in the celebrations, demonstrating their devotion with shouts and applause and documenting the event with video footage. The saint's popularity has also attracted several political figures, eager to share the popular devotion.

How the blood dissolution ritual works

Il rite of the dissolution of the blood takes place three times a year, following a procedure consolidated over time. During the ceremony, the archbishop of Naples extracts an ampoule containing the saint's blood from a niche in the Cathedral of Naples, and then exhibiting it to the faithful. The true magic is revealed when the prelate begins to shake the ampoule, inducing the contents, originally solid and dark red in color, to liquefy, an event considered to good luck.

Church Explanation vs. Scientific Explanation

While celebrating the rite with great solemnity, the Church maintains a position of cautious prudence, not officially classifying the phenomenon as a miracle. On the other hand, the scientific explanation suggests a possible naturalistic explanation, linked to the phenomenon of thixotropy, where some substances they can switch between one solid state to a liquid one following shocks or vibrations, similar to those that the ampoule undergoes during the ritual. An acceptance that leaves room for the continuity of a cult that combines faith and tradition in a unique and engaging experience.

What happened when the blood did not dissolve in the past

Based on the traditions deeply anchored in the Neapolitan cultural panorama, the absence of miracle of San Gennaro it is interpreted as a disturbing omen of adverse circumstances to come. A retrospective look allows us to highlight critical moments associated with this lack: it is possible to find that the sacred fluid has not changed its consistency over the 1939 e 1940, years that outlined the beginning of Second World War and Italy's military involvement.

Moving closer to more recent times, we notice that the prodigy did not find fulfillment in September 1973, a period marked by virulent cholera epidemic in Naples, and subsequently in 1980, a year that saw Irpinia shaken by a devastating earthquake. Therefore, the devout community looks with trepidation at the possibility that the miracle of San Gennaro be renewed, in the hope of averting any future catastrophes.

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Written by Andrew Navarro
Image source: Giancarlo De Luca Photography @jinkodel70
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