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Dried Blood Liquefies in Cathedral

May 6, 1991

NAPLES, Italy (AP) _ Neapolitans who streamed into the city’s cathedral had to wait three days, but their prayers were answered - the dried blood of San Januarius reportedly liquefied again Monday.

Twice a year, the dried blood of the 4th century martyred saint is supposed to liquefy, and failure to do so is seen by superstitious Neapolitans as a sign of impending doom.

Cardinal Michele Giordano began the ritual Saturday and although the faithful streamed into the cathedral to pray, the blood kept in two sealed glass containers remained dry until Monday afternoon.

″What happened today is not an inauspicious sign but rather a pressing appeal for conversion,″ the cardinal said Saturday. ″The miracle is a gesture of the benevolence of God that we obtain at a very high price, the price of our interior renewal.″

The cardinal was in Rome for a meeting Monday and the prayers were led by an assistant, Monsignor Franco Strazzullo.

The blood of the saint reportedly turns to liquid twice a year: on Sept. 19, the date marking his decapitation in 305 under the persecution of Emperor Diocletian; and on the first Saturday in May, commemorating the transfer of the saint’s body to Naples.

The Vatican has not classified the liquefaction as a true miracle and generally frowns on the way it is linked to misfortune. Scientists have theorized the heat generated by the presence of several thousand faithful inside the cathedral might cause a fluid to liquefy.

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