Friday, 16 November 2007

Saints' skulls and boiling blood

Folks may be interested to hear reports that St John Chrysostom's skull has sprung into action, working miraculous cures in Cyprus.

I presume that this skull was one of the relics handed over by Pope John Paul II to the Orthodox back in 2004. They had been venerated in Rome for eight hundred years, after someone had brought them back from Crusade.

I also assume that this sudden flurry of activity is heavenly affirmation of Pope Benedict's letter last week on this great Doctor of the Church (thanks to Fr Z for translating this; the Vatican hasn't bothered).

A more predictable occurence occured in September when St Januarius' blood liquified for the four hundredth successive year. Yeah that old blood liquifaction trick.

Perhaps people will enjoy reading about Newman's impressions of Naples:

'Santa Croce: Sept. 17, 1847.'I should have written before, but St. John and I have been at Naples, and our time, as you may guess, not quite our own for writing letters. We went there, among other reasons, to see the Oratory of the place, which was founded in St. Philip's time. It is a magnificent Church, Sacristy, and House—and beats the Roman, fine as the House of the Chiesa Nuova here is. And we were very much pleased with the clergy who inhabit it—most of them were young men and very intelligent and inquisitive about England. We liked all the clergy we saw there—we were introduced to the Cardinal Archbishop, a young man of 33—saw a good deal of the Jesuits, who are a wonderfully striking body of men, and about whom I could write you a good deal ... When we were there the feast of St. Gennaro was coming on—(it is the day after tomorrow, the 19th) and they were eager for us to stop—they have the utmost confidence in the miracle—and were the more eager, because many Catholics, till they have seen it, doubt it. Our father director here tells us that before he went to Naples, he did not believe it. That is, they have vague ideas of natural means, exaggeration, &c., not of course imputing fraud. They say conversions often take place in consequence. It is exposed for the Octave, and the miracle continues—it is not simple liquefaction, but sometimes it swells, sometimes boils, sometimes melts—no one can tell what is going to take place. They say it is quite overcoming—and people cannot help crying to see it. I understand that Sir H. Davy attended every day, and it was this extreme variety of the phenomenon which convinced him that nothing physical would account for it. Yet there is this remarkable fact that liquefactions of blood are common at Naples—and unless it is irreverent to the Great Author of Miracles to be obstinate in the inquiry, the question certainly rises whether there is something in the air. (Mind, I don't believe there is—and, speaking humbly, and without having seen it, think it a true miracle—but I am arguing.) We saw the blood of St. Patrizia, half liquid, i.e. liquefying, on her feast day. St. John Baptist's blood sometimes liquefies on the 29th of August, and did when we were at Naples, but we had not time to go to the Church ... But the most strange phenomenon is what happens at Ravello, a village or town above Amalfi. There is the blood of St. Pantaleon. It is in a vessel amid the stone work of the Altar—it is not touched—but on his feast in June it liquefies. And more, there is an excommunication against those who bring portions of the True Cross into the Church. Why? because the blood liquefies, whenever it is brought. A person I know, not knowing the prohibition, brought in a portion—and the Priest suddenly said, who showed the blood, "Who has got the Holy Cross about him?" I tell you what was told me by a grave and religious man. It is a curious coincidence that on telling this to our Father Director here, he said "Why we have a portion of S. Pantaleone's blood at the Chiesa Nuova, and it is always liquid."

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