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THE SAINTS NEVER FORGET US

Father Francis's picture
Saint Januarius

St. Januarius was one of the martyrs of the early Church. He shed his blood for the faith in the year 305, and ever since then his blood and his intercession have protected all who call upon his help.

Januarius was Bishop of Naples in the time of the Emperor Diocletian when Christianity was outlawed and persecuted. Four laymen, including a friend of his, were imprisoned for their faith. He visited them to comfort and encourage them but, in turn, was arrested and tortured. All were condemned to death.

The punishment reserved for Christians was to be taken to the arena where they would be devoured by wild animals. But when Januarius and his companions entered the arena, not one of them was touched. These brave martyrs were therefore beheaded.

Around the year 400 the relics of St. Januarius were exhumed and were venerated in many places. In 1497 they were finally brought back to Naples where he has long been honoured as patron of the city. Many miracles have occurred through his intercession. On several occasions when the nearby volcano of Mount Vesuvius has erupted the city has been preserved from destruction through prayer to the patron saint.

The blood of the saint is preserved in the principal church in Naples in two very old glass vials. His head is also there. The blood is congealed and of a dark colour, but whenever it is brought within sight of the head it melts and bubbles. This always happens on his feast day and on several other significant days in the year.

We know very little about the life of Januarius, and we have only a few bare facts concerning the circumstances of his death. We do know, however, that he has never ceased to care about his native city and its people. He still answers their prayers and protects them. Saint Januarius is just one example of the powerful intercession of the saints on our behalf. Let us be encouraged to call upon our own patron saints, confident that they do hear us and care for us.