Readings & Reflections: Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Januarius, September 19,2017
The martyrdom of Januarius is well attested by ancient authorities. The earliest testimony about Januarius is the record of the priest Uranius, who, in 432 A.D. wrote of the miraculous appearance of Januarius, “bishop and martyr and glory of the church of Naples,” to Saint Paulinus of Nola on his deathbed. According to traditions, Januarius was a bishop of Benevento in Italy, received word that the deacons Sossus and Proclus and the laymen Euticius and Acutius were imprisoned under the brutal emperor Diocletian. Januarius prepared to visit the men in prison. The Romans arrested Januarius with his companions Festus and Desiderius on their way to perform this work of mercy. All seven men were sentenced to death and exposed to wild beasts. When the beasts refused to attack them, the men were beheaded in the year 305 A.D. Since 1389 A.D., a vial of his solidified blood housed in Naples is said to liquefy miraculously when brought out for veneration on the saint’s three feast days. This much-studied occurrence continues to defy full scientific explanation. His relics were brought to Naples, which lies in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 1631 A.D., prayers to the saint are believed to have protected the city from destruction. Over the centuries, the phenomenon has moved the hearts of countless visitors to Naples, notably Blessed John Henry Newman and Saint Alphonsus Liguori.