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September 19th - St. Januarius (and the miracle blood)

Saint Januarius
Feast Day: September 19th
Patron Saint: Blood Banks, Naples, Volcanic Eruptions
Death: circa 305AD

There isn't much that is known about the life of St. Januarius. The stories state that he served as a Bishop during the Christian persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian was not unlike many of the other Roman Emperors who went before him in their usage of Christians not only as a scapegoat for the wrongs of the world, but he also used Christians to fuel his "creative" ways of torture. 

Being a Bishop during this time was not all that lucrative of a job. Almost immediately, it painted a target upon your back. The focus of trying to snuff out Christianity, which raised Jesus to beyond the power of the emperor and the old Roman gods, was to make an example of them. The Romans particularly sought out Christian leadership. 

In around the year 305AD, Januarius would have fell captive to the oppressive Roman government. They would throw him to the lions, hoping that his death would also be a form of entertainment for faithful Romans; however, the lions would not attack Januarius. There's something about being fed to lions not only in scripture, but in the stories of the Saints that make it appear that even the lions saw God's hand in the work of these men and women. It is not often that the lions would actually choose to attack the Christians when placed inside the arena.

Being put into a corner, Diocletian decided that he needed a sure way to kill this man that had become a pest. So he decided to behead Januarius. When his body was taken away, a faithful Christian took two vials of his blood as a relic of such a courageous man. Those relics have been handed on over 1700 years to this day. Legend has it that the relics were brought forth during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius as a way to protect the city from certain destruction. But as the relics were brought forth, the direction of the lava flow changed and saved the city of Naples.

To this day, the blood of Januarius, which should obviously be dried out by now, liquifies several times a year. It often happens around the time of his Feast Day (September 19th). It is a testimony that God uses the faithfulness of His Saints to continue to show forth His glory even in their death. This miracle, which continues to confound scientists, shows us that God is still very much part of our world - we just need to open our eyes.