Januarius’ Powdered Blood – Rich in Iron!

Funny; every year that I read about the annual miracle of St. Januarius’ liquifying blood, the press spells it different. Last year, it was “Gennarius.” I say “Januarius.”

Is that really a saint’s preserved blood turning to liquid in the vial? And if it truly is, what does this “miracle” do to nourish and enrich people’s faith and love for Christ? This idea that the blood’s failure to reconstitute is a sign of impending catastrophe sounds to me more like “Groundhog Day” superstition, so that people’s hopes are more pinned on the powdered blood than they are on the power of our God.

An Italian Paranormal Investigation Committee has looked into the phenomenon, and their researchers have hypothesized that the vial may contain a “thixotropic” substance which liquefies when subjected to motion.

“All the compounds for this concoction could have been readily available to a Neapolitan artist or alchemist of the 1300s …. The only source of FeCl3 at that time was a mineral called molysite, which occurs naturally only near active volcanoes. Notably, Naples is near Mount Vesuvius.”

“Moreover, after the blood of Januarius miraculously liquefied in 1389, a number of similar miracles occurred in and around Naples, even if most of them seem to have failed after some time.”

Note that the earliest mention of Januarius’ miracle blood goes no further back than 1389 — when the Cathedral of Naples was under construction. There’s a lot more, but I’ll leave it to you to read about the investigation.

Additional reading: the life of St. Januarius. It’s also mentioned that a similar phenomenon has been observed in the Eastern Church, with the blood of St. Panteleimon. What a rich history Christianity is heir to!