Did Pope Francis perform a miracle during his visit to Naples on Saturday, when a most unusual event happened after he kissed a century’s old relic?
Many are crediting the Pontiff with such an occurrence, after he picked up the sealed glass ampoule containing St. Gennaro’s solid blood. After Francis kissed the relic, the blood turned to liquid.
Cardinal Crescenzo Sepe, archbishop of Naples, made the incredible announcement to the crowd present at the mass, according to Vatican Insider.
“It is the sign that St. Gennaro loves Pope Francis: half of the blood turned to liquid.” he said.
“If only half of it liquefied that means we still have work to do; we have to do better,” Pope Francis reportedly joked afterwards. “We have only half of the saint’s love.”
But that statement is not entirely correct, because according to the report, St. Gennaro’s blood turned completely liquid inside the ampoule, causing many in the crowd to cry in astonishment. They believe the Saint’s blood liquifies three times each year with enough prayer, on the September 19 — St. Gennaro’s feast day, on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and on December 16, according to the National Catholic Register.
St. Gennaro or Januarius — as he is also known — was the archbishop of Naples during the third century and is a martyr of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Legend is after Januarius’s death, his blood was saved by a woman called Eusebia.
The first record of St. Gennaro’s blood turning to liquid took place in 1389. Today, the faithful come to the Naples Cathedral three times a year to witness the holy event, so during Pope Francis’ visit and the blood liquefied, those attending the mass called it a miracle.
According to Yahoo, the showing of the vial is believed to prevent tragedy. Tradition is that whenever the blood has failed to liquify, catastrophe has struck. The ceremony to present St. Gennaro’s blood to pilgrims has taken place three times a year for the last six centuries.
Skeptics are not so convinced that Pope Francis performed a miracle in Naples, however, and believe that the blood turns to liquid because of changing conditions, such as moving the ampoule.
For believers, the signs are unmistakable. This is the first time St. Gennaro’s blood has liquefied in the presence of a Pope since 1848. Pope Francis has done what his predecessors — Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI — weren’t able to do.
[Image via Scotts Catholic/Twitter]