Louisville, Kentucky, held its annual Run for the Roses, which was delayed in 2020 because of the pandemic. Pamplona, Spain, cancelled its annual Running of the Bulls for the second straight year due to the pandemic. Perhaps organizers of these ‘runnings’ should have checked with Naples, Italy, where the thrice-annually ‘running’ of the blood of St. Januarius is never postponed – which is a good thing because the solidified red fluid is known for its psychic powers based on whether it liquefies or not. Based on that, anyone planning a ‘running’ in the next three months got some good news from good old (he died in 305 CE) Januarius.
“At 5.18 pm on 2 May, the second day of prayer, the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro was repeated. The text of the homily delivered by Archbishop Don Mimmo Battaglia in the celebration of May 1st in the Cathedral is available.”
That press release excerpt (yes, it’s a big enough deal that it gets a press release) comes from the Church of Naples (Chiesa di Napoli), which also announced that the traditional procession was not held due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which fell under the prediction of the previous St. Januarius holiday when the blood did not run, signifying bad news until the next time. While thousands of people normally attend these events, the latest was limited to just 200, with everyone else watching on live TV and the Internet.
“A video posted to YouTube on May 3 showed a monsignor displaying the reliquary and turning it to demonstrate that the blood inside a spherical ampoule had turned from a solid to a liquid state. During the miracle, the dried, red-colored mass confined to one side of the reliquary becomes blood that covers the entire glass. In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or other disaster.”
As Catholic media sites reported, the container said to hold the blood was displayed and turned to demonstrate that it had somehow liquified. (Watch the video here.) Those who believe that the ‘somehow’ is by a miracle should be aware that the Catholic Church does not recognize it as such, but that hasn’t prevented popes from showing up – it appeared to liquefy in the presence of Pope Pius IX in 1848, but not that of John Paul II in 1979 or Benedict XVI in 2007, and it was said to half-liquify for Pope Francis in 2015 when he visited the church on day other than the officials ones -- Sept. 19, the saint's feast day, the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
“The saint’s blood remained solid in December 2020, having liquefied both in May and September that year.”
For those keeping score, the blood allegedly liquified during the peak times of the pandemic in 2020 – a time when Naples was particularly hard-hit. That doesn’t deter true believers in the blood’s purported psychic powers – they have a long list of tragedies that followed non-liquefaction, such as epidemics, revolutions, droughts, archbishops’ deaths, popes’ deaths, world wars, earthquakes and more. Of course, they also have a few good events that followed the running of the blood. Skeptics will point out that past studies on tiny samples of the blood that were said to verify its liquifying states (although not its predictive power) were questionable, while tests on other similar saintly blood vials show it can be liquified by shaking or, if it’s not real blood, by the heat of the holder’s hands.
It would be great if the running of the blood of St. Januarius reduced or eliminated the pandemic – even for three months. As with so many other psychic predictions of this type, there are no specific predictions – the blood doesn’t spell out any names, for instance – so it’s up to believers and non-believers to wait for events and link them to the blood to support their side.
My purpose is not to certify or disprove of the St. Januarius blood phenomena but merely to point out that it is one of countless psychic events turned to by people of many religions, spiritual beliefs or just curiosities for comfort and hope when they can’t understand what’s going on and get unsatisfactory answers from other sources. The St. Januarius event is of particular interest because it is so well documented since it was first publicized in 1389. That’s a long time to command the attention and faith of so many while surviving the scrutiny of skeptics.
It’s definitely longer than the runnings of the roses or the bulls … and all those predict is that most people will lose their money and some possibly their lives.