In the 4th century, during a time of rampant Christian persecution, San Gennaro, the bishop of Benevento, interceded on behalf of an imprisoned deacon and petitioned for his release.
Gennaro was arrested and later killed for standing up to Roman authority, and samples of his blood were collected by the faithful in special glass vials, called ampoules.
1,700 years later, the blood is still in tact, and liquefies about three times a year at the Duomo in Naples, where Gennaro is the patron saint.
The liquefaction of Gennaro’s blood is a reminder that miracles big and small happen every day, and it shows us that hope and coming to the aid of others will see us through the most trying times.
The Feast of San Gennaro
Italian immigrants, many of whom were from Naples, flocked to Mulberry Street in the late 19th century and built the Most Precious Blood Church in 1891, which is the only U.S. shrine to Gennaro.
On Sept. 19, 1926, Italians gathered along Mulberry in observance of the anniversary of Gennaro’s martyrdom.
Almost 100 years later, the observance continues and the 11-day Feast is one of the largest celebrations in the world.
The Feast is scheduled to start on Sept. 17, and it has not been canceled as organizers plan to wait and see whether the city will allow the celebration. (Visit the San Gennaro website, here, for updates)
Please watch the ISDA/Italian American Podcast short documentary film of the San Gennaro Feast, below: