No, that’s not from the 16th century, it’s from this week…
While Pope Francis was giving some advice to the religious, priests and seminarians of Naples on Saturday, a miracle occurred: a vial of dried blood from a fourth century saint liquefied. This stunning but locally known and accepted phenomenon is said to happen three times a year: May 1, Sept. 19, which is the saint’s feast day, and Dec. 16.
The last time this occured with a Pope was in 1848 with Pius IX. It didn’t happen when St. John Paul II visited the city in October of 1979, or when Benedict XVI went in October of 2007. The blood belongs to St. Januarius, Patron of Naples and former bishop and martyr of the city, whose bones are also preserved in the cathedral. He’s believed to have been martyred during the infamous persecution of Christians during the rule of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who retired in 305.