Pray with Today's Saint

St. Januarius

9/19/2017

St. Januarius was a bishop who gave his life with his friends during a Christian persecution in the Roman empire. He is a best known for a recurring miracle that involves his relics.

Two deacons and a layman were imprisoned after confessing their Christian faith. Januarius was good friends with one of the deacons, and he visited his friend in prison. Guards noticed, and he was arrested, along with another deacon and a layperson.

Januarius and his companions were all beaten, and made to wear iron chains and march in front of the governor’s chariot. They were thrown into jail with the friends Januarius had originally visited.

The group of Christians were condemned to die by being thrown into an arena with wild beasts, but when this was carried out, the beasts could not be enticed to attack. They were sentenced to beheading instead.

This account of Januarius and his companions comes to down us from tradition, and it is difficult to know if it can be trusted. Best guesses indicate he died sometime around 305; the saint seems to have been honored from the fifth century and after.

There is a unique veneration of Januarius’ relics in Naples, where he was bishop. A vial of the saint’s dried blood stands in a reliquary in a church dedicated to him. Several times a year, on dates that correspond to events in the saint’s life and death, people observe the blood in that vial to liquefy, sometimes coming to froth and increase in volume. It is a miracle that has been examined carefully and no explanation has been found. In 2015, the blood liquified when Pope Francis made a visit, which was rare because it occurred outside of one of these special feast days.

Relics of St. Januarius rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, and his image is used here with permission from Catholic.org.

St. Januarius, you are the martyr with miraculous relics who died for your friends and your faith, pray for us!