Each September the southern city of Naples celebrates the Blood Miracle. Although the name may sound rather morbid, this feast day is an opportunity for religious Neapolitans to come together and celebrate their most beloved patron saint. In a city with over fifty patron saints, San Gennaro, or Saint Januarius, is arguably the most beloved. It is said that the 600+-year-old dried blood of Saint Januarius returns to its fresh, liquid state up to 18 times each year. Each of these times is a miracle according to the Catholic church. The blood consistently liquefies for the saint’s birthday. Recently, when Pope Francis visited the Naples Duomo in 2015, the blood liquefied in the presence of the pope for the first time in over 150 years. signaled the health and continuation of the blood ceremony. If you’ll be in Naples and looking to explore the deeper religious context of this historic city, opt for a guided historical tour.
After the mass, beginning at 9 AM in the Duomo on September 19th, religious processions are carried out throughout the city. Out on the streets, candies, beverages, and children’s toys are sold by vendors. The streets fill up with Neapolitans both looking to observe the religious miracle, and also with those that are more excited to celebrate with their friends and family. The winding streets of the city provide an excellent opportunity for lengthy processions. Explore the maze like streets and get the lay of the land with a sightseeing bus ride.
The procession, conducted on foot, serves the double purpose of bringing together the city’s dwellers as well as helping everyone work up an appetite. Try out an evening tour and dinner for your own nighttime feast. Once your appetite has been sated and you’re ready to continue exploring the region there is ample opportunity to access the beauty of the south. The Amalfi coast is a short drive away from the city and offers spectacular views and coastal town visits. Opt for a guided excursion out to Amalfi from Naples on a day trip.
What religious miracles have you heard of or experienced that are similar? Have you ever been to Naples? How do you think the south of Italy compares with the north? Where on the southern coast would you most like to visit?