Who was St. Januarius?

What is his history and his witness of faith? His autobiographical profile is unknown like many other  “martyres inventi” recovered between IV and V century. Around his figure there are many details without a positive historical critic. Over the centuries we have collected many popular legends and  uncertain historical reconstructions that have confused, transforming St. Januarius in a folkloristic event.

However, the recent hagiographic research has found out some important aspects about historical and spiritual identity of the martyr. The oldest “St. Januarius Passion”, the “Acta bononiensia” (se. VI) describes him as a bishop of Benevento martyred under Diocletian around 300 a.C. According to this document, during  Christian persecutions, Januarius went to Miseno, near Pozzuoli, to give comfort  to Sossio imprisoned because catholic but he was arrested for the same crime with deacon Festo and reader Desiderio.


Decollation of St. Januarius, realized by Domenichino (1634-1641) oil on copper like all the paintings of the Royal Chapel of the treasure of St. Januarius

In front of the judge of Campania, Draconzio, the arrested men refused to retract their Christian faith and they were executed. They were beheaded in Solfatara, an active volcano in Pozzuoli. During the journey to Solfatara deacon Procolo and laics Acunzo and Eutichete from Pozzuoli protest in a lively way against the condemn but they also were executed.

After many adventures the ruins of St. Januarius were moved from Montevergine  Abbey to Naples where actually are in the crypt, under the high altar in the cathedral. It was reported that during his execution, a woman, Eusebia, recollected his blood in two cruets that are actually saved in the Chapel with his skull bones.

The miracle of blood dissolution

The first historical news about the cruets of blood was described by medieval chronicler (Chronicom siculum) who – on 17th August 1389- noticed astonished the  singular phenomenon of the blood dissolution which since that moment happens until nowadays.

For three times, the cruets are showed to the people by the Archbishop of Naples. The dates commemorate three different moments that connect the relics to Neapolitan people and on these anniversaries the miracle happens.

Ceremony of the miracle on 16th December
Ceremony of the miracle on 16th December
Domenico Gargiulo, called Micco Spadaro. Painting of 1631
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St. Januarius is international…

We could say that the relationship of faith and love between St. Januarius and Naples is unique in the world and lasts since sixteen centuries and it represents a rare testimony of strong and sincere religiousness of Neapolitan people

He is the most famous Saint both cultural and spiritual aspect for two reasons. The first is artistic and cultural because political events of Naples, its natural vocation to be a great European capital of reign in a strategic Mediterranean’s point, its innate ability to be perfect place for arts and artists, the faith of people ensured that there were many business and cultural exchanges with other countries, becoming preferred destination of Grand Tour and exporting St. Januarius in the world.

It is no coincidence that:

  • El Prada in Madrid
  • Art Museum of MilwaukeeI
  • The Church of Augustinian reformed in Monterrey
  • Le Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marsiglia, Francia
  • The Art Gallery of Auckland in New Zealand
  • The Louvre in Parigi,
  • The library of the bishopric in Vac in Hungary
  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
  • The Capodimonte Museum in Naples

To name few international important museums with one or more works representing Neapolitan Saint realized by many important artists as Francesco Solimena, Jusepe De Ribera, Jacques Callot, Girolamo Pesce, Guido Reni, Aniello Falcone, Artemisia Gentileschi, Luca Giordano, Guido Reni, Aniello Falcone, Mattia Preti. The second aspect of the great diffusion of St.

Januarius’ worship in the world is caused by the terrible emigration of late nineteenth. The most significant exodus of modern history. The Vatican has counted over 25 million of devotees that still today attend the miracle on 19th September in New York, Los Angeles, Rosario in Argentina, San Paolo in Brazil, Chicago, Melbourne, Sidney and other places in the world.

St. Januarius in the world
St. Januarius in the world
St. Januarius in the world
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