|Martyrdom of Saint Januarius|
painted by Girolamo Pesce
in circa 1726
I call it a phenomenon, as opposed to a miracle, because the Vatican has never officially ruled it a miracle, though it does pay respect to the phenomenon and the devotion that has developed because of it.
In addition to these annual dates, the blood has also turned to liquid in the presence of three popes. The last time this occurred was in 1848 with Pius IX. It hasn't happened since, when other popes visited the shrine, until now. Pope Francis visited the cathedral on March 21, 2015. The following video tells of the encounter and the phenomenon...
Now, before we go on, let's be perfectly clear about some things. First, Pope Francis did not perform any miracle. He had no intention of turning the clotted blood back into liquid. He simply venerated the relic by kissing it, a sign of deep devotion and respect. Second, if indeed the phenomenon is miraculous, then it was God who performed the miracle, by the intercession of Saint Januarius. Again, Pope Francis did not do it. Third, whether it is a miracle or a phenomenon, God can use either to send us a message.
|A photograph of Pope Pius IX|
Does this in any way sound like Pope Francis? I can see some similarities between Francis and the early years of Pius IX, during the liberal years of his papacy. Like Pius IX, Francis considers himself a reformer of the Vatican and seeks to reignite zeal among the Catholic faithful. The liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius for Pope Pius IX was immediately followed by unprecedented political trials for the Holy Father. This was accompanied by changes in his papacy, and the result was an incredibly holy man who changed the papacy for the better, and reignited the faith of millions of Catholics around the world. Does God have something similar planned for Pope Francis? Is the liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius at the kiss of Pope Francis a sign of this? There is no way we can know at this time. What we do know is that the liquefaction of the blood for the last pope turned out to be both a harbinger of evil and a herald of greatness at the same time. Does God use phenomenon like this to tell us something? Sure he does. We see the Bible littered with such things. The only problem is, we don't know exactly what it means until after it happens. For now, we can view the phenomenon of the liquefaction of Saint Janaurius' blood for Pope Francis as a possible sign from heaven, and that's all we can do. As for what it means, if anything, we'll just have to wait and see.
Shane Schaetzel is a published author and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'
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