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The Life Of St. Januarius
Acts of the Hieromartyr Januarius, Bishop of Benevento ^ | 1908 | Edward P. Graham(translator)

Posted on 09/19/2002 4:15:14 PM PDT by Lady In Blue

[St. Pachomius Library]

This document is in the public domain. Copying it is encouraged.


Translated by Edward P. Graham, 1909



(Feast Day September 19)

In the time of Diocletian, emperor, and in the fifth consulate of Constantine [Constantius], and seventh [probably "fifth"] of Maximian, there was a great persecution of the Christians. At that time Diocletian appointed Timothy, a pagan, governor in the province of Campania and ordered him to offer sacrifices to idols and to compel all who believed in Christ to do the same. It happened as he was making the customary round of cities, he came to the city of Nola. There he ordered the officials to present themselves before him and when they were present he began to inquire from them concerning the judgments of his predecessors.

To him the officials related their deeds and among them, when they reached the affairs of the blessed martyrs Sosius, deacon of the church at Miseno and Proculus, deacon of the church at Pozzuoli, and Eutychetes and Acutius, and how they had been tormented by various tortures and had been recast into prison by the order of the judge, he asked the officials what had been done with them. They replied saying that they for a long time were detained in chains and they uttered in addition evil remarks concerning the Blessed Januarius, bishop of Benevento.

This most unjust Timothy having heard these remarks regarding Januarius, ordered him to be brought before him and when he was presented before his tribunal at Nola, Timothy the judge said to him: "Januarius, having heard of the reputation of your family I exhort you to sacrifice to the gods in obedience to the decrees of the invincible rulers. But if you are unwilling I shall subject you to horrible torments which the God whom you worship when he shall see them he himself shall fear."

St. Januarius however replied: "Be silent, O unhappy man, and do not insult in my hearing Him who created heaven and earth, lest the Lord God may hear such a blasphemy as that which proceeds from your mouth and he may destroy you and you shall be mute and deaf, not hearing and like a blind man not seeing."

Having heard these things the tyrant Timothy says to the saint: "Is it in your power that by any enchantments whatever you or your god can prevail against me?"

St. Januarius replies: "My power is nothing but there is a God in heaven who can resist you and all who obey and abet you." And when he had said this the tyrant ordered him back to prison.

Being very angry he ordered a furnace to be heated for three days and the saint to be cast into it. The holy man made the sign of the cross on his forehead, looked up to heaven sighing and extending his hands, and having entered the fiery furnace he was praising God, saying: "O Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of thy holy name I embrace willingly this suffering and I expect every promise which thou hast promised to those who love Thee. Hear me praying to Thee and deliver me from this flame, thou who wert present with the three children, Ananias, Azarias, Misael in the fiery furnace, and be with me in this my trial to deliver me from the hands of the enemy." Saying these things, Blessed Januarius began to walk with holy angels in the midst of the fire praising the Father and Son and Holy Ghost.

When the soldiers who were around the furnace heard St. Januarius in its depth praising God they feared with a great fear and ran in great haste and told the judge saying, "We beseech thee, sir, not to be angry with us but we have heard the voice of Januarius in the furnace invoking his Lord, and being greatly terrified we fled." Timothy hearing this ordered the furnace to be opened and when it was opened the flames shot out and devoured some incredulous pagans who were around about it. But St. Januarius appeared in the midst glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ so that the fire could not touch either his clothes or his hair.

Timothy however when he had heard this ordered him before him and said to him: "Of what avail is it that the magic you exercise is powerful? By various torments I will make you perish." St. Januarius replied: "It will not be well for thee, thou cruel tyrant, to alienate the servant of Christ from the truth of Christ or to cause me to obey through fear. I will hope in the Lord. I will not fear no matter what men may do to me," and thus replying the judge ordered him led back to prison.

On another day early in the morning Timothy had Januarius before him: "How long, unhappy man, will you refuse to sacrifice to the immortal gods? Approach now and offer incense. If not I shall order you to be beheaded and if he can, let your God free you from my hands." The saint replied: "You do not know that the power of God is great. Would that you would repent so that my God might pardon you whom you say to be unable to free me from your hands! When you speak thus you are heaping up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath."

The judge not liking this speech ordered his shackels [-nervi-] to be removed. Januarius prayed God saying: "O Lord Jesus Christ who hast not abandoned me from my mother's womb now hear thy servant crying to thee and command me to depart this world and obtain thy mercy." The judge thinking how he would kill him sent him back to prison.

While guarded by soldiers in hard captivity, two of his clergy, the deacon Festus and the reader Desiderius, learned of their bishop's captivity and being moved by the Holy Ghost they immediately set out from Beneventum and came to Nola, and there weeping they cried: "Why is such a man in custody? What crimes did he commit? When did he fail to aid those in trouble? What sick man was visted by him without regaining health? Who approached him weeping and went away not rejoicing?"

Their words were reported to Timothy who ordered them at once to be detained and along with Januarius to be brought before him, whereupon he asked Januarius who were these two and the saint replied: "One is my deacon and the other is my reader." "Do they proclaim themselves Christians?" "Certainly, for if you ask them, I hope in my Lord Jesus Christ that they will not deny themselves to be Christians," and being asked, they said: "We are Christians and we are prepared to die for the love of God."

Then Timothy filled with anger ordered Januarius the bishop, along with Festus the deacon and Desiderius the reader, to be bound in chains and to be dragged before his chariot to the city of Pozzuoli, determining that there along with Sosius, Proculus, Eutyches and Acutius, they should be delivered up to wild beasts. When they were come to Pozzuoli, they were kept in prison until the arena was prepared. On the day appointed they were led into the amphitheatre and Timothy coming ordered the wild beasts to be let loose; and when this was done, St. Januarius cried: "O brethren, seize the shield of faith and let us pray to the Lord our Helper in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth." And the mercy of God was so present that to the feet of Januarius like sheep with heads down ran the wild beasts.

The unbelieving judge had the beasts removed and the saints of God taken from the arena and brought before his tribunal, where sitting in state he dictated their sentence: "We order to be beheaded, Januarius bishop, Sosius, Proculus and Festus deacons, Desiderius reader, Eutyches and Acutius, citizens of Pozzuoli, who have professed themselves Christians and have despised the sacrifices of the gods and the commands of the emperor." But St. Januarius looking up to heaven said: "Lord Jesus Christ who descended from on high for the redemption of the human race, deliver me and free me from the hand of this enemy and I beg thee my God that you punish Timothy for the things he did against me thy servant and that thou blind his eyes so that he may not see the light of heaven."

When he had finished his prayer darkness fell on his [Timothy's] eyes and suddenly he was made blind. Then prayed Januarius to the Lord, and said: "I give thanks to thee, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast heard thy servant and destroyed the eyes of the impious Timothy because many souls on account of him have been perverted to the evil spirits."

Then Timothy was suffering with his stricken eyes and the pain was increasing. Repentant he began to cry out and say to the officials: "Go, bring Januarius to me." And they going found him lead along by the executioners on the incline that leads to the Solfatara and bringing him back they set him before the judge and a great multitude of people was attracted by the sight. But Timothy began to cry out with a great cry and to say to St. Januarius: "Januarius, servant of the most high God, pray the Lord, thy God, for me blind that I may recover the sight which I have lost."

Then Januarius raising his eyes to heaven prayed: "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, hear my prayer and restore to Timothy though unworthy his eyes that all the people present may know that thou art God and there is no other but thee; for we may not return evil for evil." And when St. Januarius had finished his prayer his were opened.

The multitude seeing the wonderful things which the Lord wrought by Januarius his martyr, many of the bystanders believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, almost five thousand, and they cried out raising their voices: "Will not the God of such and so great a man be feared? Will he not perhaps take revenge for their sufferings and death and will we not all likewise perish?" Januarius was very beautiful both in body and disposition. Then the impious judge Timothy seeing such a crowd turned toward the Lord was troubled and (lest the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ might be deprived of his crown) fearing the commands of the emperor the judge ordered the soldiers to take him away quickly and to behead him with the holy martyrs.

When they were on their way to martyrdom a certain old and very poor man, hoping favor from Januarius placed himself in his way and fell at his feet and besought him that he might receive some of his clothes. But Januarius said to that old man: "When my body has been buried thou wilt see that I myself will give thee my orarium with which I will have bound my eyes." The mother also of St. Januarius residing at Benevento, three days before her son suffered, saw in a dream that Januarius was flying in the air to heaven and when she was puzzled by the dream and would inquire what it meant, suddenly it was announced to her that her son was imprisoned for the love of God. She however greatly terrified, prostrating herself in prayer before the Lord, gave up her spirit.

In the meantime when the saints had arrived at the place where they were to be beheaded, that is at the Solfatara, St. Januarius kneeling prayed: "O Lord, omnipotent God, into thy hands I commend my spirit" and then rising he took his orarium and bound his eyes and kneeling again he placed his hand on his neck and asked the executioner to strike. The executioner struck with great force and cut off at the same time a finger of the saint's hand and his head. The other saints received likewise their crown.

St. Januarius after his execution appeared to the old man and offered him as he had promised the orarium which had bound his eyes and said: "Behold what I promised you, take it as I promised it," and he took it and hid it in his bosom with great reverence.

The executioners and two other officials seeing the old man, laughingly asked him: "Have you got what he who was beheaded promised?" But he said, "Yes," and showed them the orarium which they recognized and wondered greatly.

On the very same hour at which St. Januarius and the holy martyrs were beheaded the cruel Timothy began to suffer very much and he was exclaiming aloud: "I suffer these pains for having treated Januarius the servant of God so impiously. The angels of God torment [me]." And when he had been long tormented he gave up the ghost.

The Christians of various cities were guarding the bodies of the saints that they might carry them off at night to their own cities and they kept a careful though secret watch; and when night was come and all were sleeping, St. Januarius in the silence of the night appeared to one of those who were prepared to take away his body and said to him: "Brother, when you take away my body know that the finger of my hand is missing. Seek it and place it with my body." And so it was done as the saint himself had admonished. The bodies of the saints lay at the Solfatara where later was founded a church worthy of St. Januarius the martyr.

Here ends the passion of Januarius Martyr.

APPENDIX ONE: Additional paragraph found in some codices.

At night when each group was seeking to carry away the bodies of their own as patrons, the Neapolitans taking the St. Januarius as their patron were favored by the Lord, whose body at first indeed they hid at Marcian's farm. Afterwards when peace was restored venerable bishops, together with all the relatives of St. Januarius, and with the clergy taking his body brought it amidst hymns and canticles to Naples and deposited it in the basilica where it now rests. Who through his merits with Jesus Christ ceases not to confer memorable favors down to the present day: his Natal day is celebrated September 19. His fellow-citizens of Miseno took the deacon St. Sosius and placed him in the basilica where he now rests, September 23: and their fellow-citizens of Pozzuoli took the deacon St. Proculus, and St. Eutychetes and St. Acutius and deposited them in the villa of Falcidius which is adjoining the basilica of St. Stephen at the junction of the three roads. In the same way their fellow-citizens brought St. Festus and St. Desiderius to Beneventum.

APPENDIX TWO: from the martyrology of Bede as given by the Bollandists.

"Sept. 19, at Naples in Campania the feast of Saints Januarius, bishop of Beneventum with Sosius of Mesenum a deacon and Festus his deacon and Desiderius his lector; who after chains and prison were beheaded at Pozzuoli under Diocletian, emperor and Dracontius, judge. When they were being led to death they saw among others, Proculus of Pozzuoli deacon, and two laymen, Eutychetes and Acutius, and these asked why were the just sentenced to be killed, whom when the judge saw they were Christians he ordered them to be beheaded with the others. So all seven equally suffered death. And the Christians took their bodies by night; the Neapolitans placed St. Janaurius in a basilica near the city, and the Misenese, Sosius also in a basilica, and the Puteolani, Proculus and Eutychetes and Acutius in the basilica of St. Stephen, and the Beneventians took Festus and Desiderius."

EDITOR'S NOTE: As many people are aware, a vial containing what is said to be the blood of St. Januarius is preserved in Naples. The liquefaction of the saint's blood on his feast day, observed by many skeptical witnesses, has been cited as an example of a scientifically verified miracle, although a non-supernatural explanation (a thixotropic chemical reaction) has also been proposed. A similar miracle is found in the Eastern Church connected with the Great-Martyr Panteleimon.


The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, April/May 1995

Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants the translator Edward and the scribes Mark, Edward, Marc, Alifa, Jeff, Richard, Elizabeth, Dmitri, Stephen, Michael, Dan, and Peter!




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Saint Januarius

A vial of his blood liquifies and becomes fresh
at frequent intervals

SS. JANUARIUS, Bishop of Benevento, and His Companions, Martyrs (c. A.D. 305 ?)

SAINT JANUARIUS (Gennaro), a native some say of Naples, others of Benevento, was bishop of this latter city when the persecution of Diocletian broke out. Sossus, deacon of Miseno, Proculus, deacon of Pozzuoli, and Euticius and Acutius, laymen, were imprisoned at Pozzuoli by an order of the governor of Campania, before whom they had confessed their faith. Sossus by his wisdom and sanctity had earned the friendship of St Januarius, and upon the news that this servant of God and several others were fallen into the hands of the persecutors, the bishop determined to make them a visit to comfort and encourage them. He did not escape the notice of the keepers, who gave information that someone from Benevento had visited the Christian prisoners. The governor gave orders that Januarius, whom he found to be the person, should be arrested and brought before him at Nola, which was accordingly done. Festus, the bishop's deacon, and Desiderius, a lector of his church, were also taken, and had a share in the interrogatories and torments which the good bishop underwent at Nola. Some time after the governor went to Pozzuoli, and these three confessors, loaded with irons, were made to walk before his chariot to that town, where they were thrown into the same prison where the four martyrs already mentioned were detained. They had been condemned to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, and were then lying in expectation of the execution of their sentence. The day after the arrival of St Januarius and his two companions all these champions of Christ were exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre, but none of the animals could be provoked to touch them. The people were amazed and imputed their preservation to magic, and the martyrs were condemned to be beheaded. This sentence was executed near Pozzuoli, and the martyrs were buried near that town.

The city of Naples eventually got possession of the relics of St Januarius, which in the fifth century were brought from the little church of San Gennaro near the Solfatara. During the wars of the Normans they were removed, first to Benevento, and some time after to the abbey of Monte Vergine; but in 1497 they were brought back to Naples, where he has long been honoured as principal patron.

No reliance can be placed upon the above particulars of the martyrdom of St Januarius ; all the recensions of his " acts " are late and untrustworthy ; nothing certain is known of him or of those who suffered with him. All the fame of Januarius rests upon that " standing miracle " (as Baronius called it), the liquefaction of the alleged relic of his blood which is preserved in the chapel of the treasury of the cathedral-church of Naples, a happening of which there are records for the past four hundred years. The relic consists of a dark, solid, opaque mass which half fills the small glass phial in which it is contained, the phial itself being fixed in a metal reliquary. Eighteen times a year, in connexion with the feast of the translation of the relics to Naples (Saturday before the first Sunday in May), the feast of the saint (September 19), and the anniversary of the averting of a threatened eruption of Vesuvius in 1631 (December 16), this relic is brought out and held by a priest in the presence of what is believed to be the martyr's head, exposed in a silver reliquary on the altar. Prayers are said by the people, especially as represented by a number of poor women who have a privileged position in the church and are known as the " aunts of St Januarius " (zie di San Gennaro). After a varying interval, from two minutes to an hour as a rule, the priest from time to time turning the reliquary upside down, the dark mass, hitherto solid and immovable, detaches itself from the sides of the glass, becomes liquid and reddish in colour, and sometimes froths, bubbles up, and increases in volume. This takes place not only in full view of the people but in close proximity to any accredited persons who may have been admitted to the sanctuary. The priest then announces, " The miracle has happened ", Te Deum is sung, and the relic venerated by the congregation and clergy. Few, if any, alleged miracles have been examined more carefully, more often, or by people of more divergent views than this of the blood of St Januarius, and it may be safely affirmed that no expert inquirer, however rationalist in temper he may be, now denies that what is said to take place does take place. There is no trick, and there is as yet no completely satisfactory explanation (though many have been advanced, both by Catholics and others), except the explanation of miracle. But before a miracle may be certainly recognized all natural explanations must have been examined and found wanting, and all objections answered. Among the undoubted facts concerning this relic are the following :

  1. The dark substance alleged to be the blood of St Januarius (which for more than 300 years has remained sealed up in a glass phial immovably set in a metal reliquary) does not always occupy the same volume. Sometimes the black and hard mass is seen almost completely to fill the phial, at other times there is a vacant space above it of more than a third of its bulk.
  2. Concurrently with this variation in volume there is a variation in weight, which of late years has been tested in an accurate chemical balance. Taking the extremes which have been recorded, this variation has amounted to as much as 27 grammes.
  3. The rapidity of the liquefaction seems to bear no ratio to the temperature of the atmosphere. Sometimes when the temperature has stood as high as 86° Fahrenheit, more than two hours have passed before any signs of liquefaction were observed. On the other hand, when the temperature has been 15° or even 20° lower than this, complete liquefaction has occurred in from 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. The liquefaction does not always take place in the same way. Instances are recorded in which the liquefied contents seem almost to boil and are of a vivid crimson colour, while in other cases the colour is dull and the movement sluggish.

On the other hand, among the difficulties in the way of accepting the phenomenon as a miracle the following have been pointed out. The fact that a very large majority of all other blood-relics of which similar behaviour seems to be true are found in the neighbourhood of Naples; and some of the relics, e.g. those of St John Baptist, St Stephen, St Ursula, are almost certainly spurious. The relic has seven times been known to liquefy while a jeweller was repairing the reliquary, but often during the December exposition it has failed to liquefy at all. The authenticity of the relic itself is extremely problematical ; we have no record of the cultus of St Januarius before the fifth century. Moreover there is the consideration, of yet greater weight if the relic be not authentic, of the seeming purposelessness of the marvel. Such a criticism may be levelled at many other alleged miracles ; we cannot search the ways of God ; and it is true that for centuries the liquefaction has been a standing manifestation of His omnipotence for thousands of Neapolitans. But it must also be remembered that marvels of this kind, so far from being a help, are a definite hindrance to the faith of other people, of different temperament but of no less good will : and these also have souls to be saved.

Miracles recorded in Holy Scripture are revealed facts and an object of faith. Other miracles are not considered in the same light, neither does our faith in part rest upon them as upon the former, though they illustrate and confirm it ; nor do they demand or admit any higher assent than that which prudence requires and which is due to the evidence of human authority, upon which they depend. When such miracles are propounded, they are not to be rashly admitted : the evidence of the fact and circumstances ought to be examined to the bottom, and duly weighed ; where that fails it is the part of prudence to suspend or refuse our assent. If human evidence set the certainty of a miracle above the reach of doubt, it must more powerfully excite us to raise our minds to God in humble worship, love and praise, and to honour Him in His saints, when by such wonderful means He gives us tangible proofs of the glory to which He exalts them.

The unsatisfactory " acts " of St Januarius and companions are preserved to us in varying forms. The texts printed in the Acta Sanctorum, September, vol. vi (but out of place, at the end of the volume), sufficiently illustrate this diversity. On the other hand there can be no serious doubt that a bishop named Januarius was really martyred somewhere near Naples, and that he was venerated at an early date. Not only does the priest Uranius, shortly after the year 431, allude to him in terms which imply that he was a saint in Heaven, on a footing with the famous St Martin of Tours, but a fifth-century representation of him in the so-called " catacomb of St Januarius " at Naples depicts him with a nimbus. His name also is entered on this day in the early calendars both of East and West. See the Acta Sanctorum, November, vol. ii, part 2, p. 517 ; and Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, in Studi e Testi, vol. xxiv (1912), pp. 79-114. The question of the liquefaction of the blood has of course been discussed again and again. For a vindication of the supernatural character of the prodigy, consult especially Taglialatela, Memorie storico-critiche del culto e del sangue di S. Gennaro (1893) ; Cavène, Le célèbre miracle de S. Janvier à Naples et à Pouzzoles (1909) ; Alfano e Amitrano, Il miracolo di S. Gennaro (1924)-this last includes a bibliography of 1346 entries-and for English readers, Bishop E. P. Graham, The Mystery of Naples (1909) ; and Ian Grant, The Testimony of Blood (1929). The view of those who question the miraculous nature of the liquefaction is set out in Isenkrahe, Neapolitanische Blutwunder (1912), and in The Month, January, February and March 1927 and February 1930, by Fr Thurston, who also contributes the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia, vol. Viii, pp. 295-297. The Kirchliches Handlexikon states (vol. ii, col. 25), " a conclusive judgement in this matter can hardly be arrived at, but so far no natural explanation has been found ".

Butler's Lives of the Saints – Christian Classics / P.O. Box 30 / Westminster, Maryland 21157



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1 posted on 09/19/2002 4:15:14 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; NYer; JMJ333; Salvation
2 posted on 09/19/2002 4:18:03 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
Bump for later reading!
3 posted on 09/19/2002 4:47:22 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: Lady In Blue
When the soldiers who were around the furnace heard St. Januarius in its depth praising God they feared with a great fear and ran in great haste and told the judge saying, "We beseech thee, sir, not to be angry with us but we have heard the voice of Januarius in the furnace invoking his Lord, and being greatly terrified we fled." Timothy hearing this ordered the furnace to be opened and when it was opened the flames shot out and devoured some incredulous pagans who were around about it. But St. Januarius appeared in the midst glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ so that the fire could not touch either his clothes or his hair.

Incredible faith!

4 posted on 09/19/2002 5:30:46 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Lady In Blue
Through prayer and with God all things are possible.
5 posted on 09/19/2002 6:08:43 PM PDT by Salvation
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: Lady In Blue
Thank you for the ping LIB. I believe the saints blood liquified last year. Cultural Jihad posted a thread on it.
7 posted on 09/19/2002 8:41:39 PM PDT by JMJ333
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway
Thanks for your bump!
11 posted on 09/21/2002 7:47:53 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Salvation
He sure did have incredible faith,as did all of the martyrs.
12 posted on 09/21/2002 7:50:11 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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You're welcome and thanks for coming on.
13 posted on 09/21/2002 7:51:48 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: JMJ333
You're welcome.You're right,it does liquify most years but ever so often it doesn't doing times emergency,like an earthquake.
14 posted on 09/21/2002 7:54:19 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue; JMJ333; HDMZ
Saint's Dried Blood Liquefies in 'Miracle'
16 posted on 09/23/2002 12:49:25 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue
BTTT on 9-19-03
17 posted on 09/19/2003 9:05:34 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Over here, too!
18 posted on 09/19/2003 12:47:56 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Optional Memorial of St. Januarius, September 19, 2005!

19 posted on 09/19/2005 8:11:33 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
Sept. 19: St. Januarius, Bishop & Martyr, and His Companions, Martyrs (Gueranger)

The Life Of St. Januarius

Saint's Blood Liquefies - Good Omen for the World [2001]

Saint's Dried Blood Liquefies in 'Miracle'

Feast of St. Januarius: Naples Saint's Blood Liquefies As Usual. [Read Only]

20 posted on 09/19/2005 8:12:56 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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