Uh oh. Could this be a bad sign?
The blood of St. Januarius did not liquify as it normally does in a tri-annual ritual that took place last week. The regular liquefaction of the centuries-old blood is considered by many to be a miracle. The fact it failed to happen is often taken by the faithful as a bad omen for the coming months or year.
St. Januarius was a 3rd century bishop known for his bravery in defending his flock and was martyred during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. He is the patron saint of Naples, Italy.
A small bit of his blood preserved in a vial in the Cathedral in Naples miraculously liquifies three times a year: on the first Sunday of May (celebrating the arrival of his relics to the cathedral), September 19th (his feast day), and December 16th (celebrating his patronage of Naples).
The blood’s failure to liquify on one of these dates has been associated with bad events in the past. According to one source, the blood didn’t liquify in 1939, the year of the outbreak of WWII; and it didn’t liquify in 1980, the year of the Irpinia earthquake in Italy that left 2,483 people dead, 7,700 injured, and 250,000 homeless.
Of course, since there is always something bad happening in the world somewhere, it’s hard to tell if there’s really a correlation of if it’s simply a coincidence.
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, the abbot of the chapel, confirmed that the blood remained “undoubtedly solid,” but tried to downplay speculation about its meaning: “We shouldn’t think of tragedies and calamities. We are men of faith and we must keep on praying.”