Worldwide celebrations for patron saint of Naples
|An artistic depiction of the beheading of|
San Gennaro in 305
Each year a service is held to enable the congregation to witness the dried blood of the saint, which is kept in a glass phial, miraculously turn to liquid.
The practice of gathering blood to be kept as a relic was common at the time of the decapitation of San Gennaro in 305.
The ritual of praying for the miracle of liquefaction of the blood on the anniversary of his death dates back to the 13th century.
Gennaro is said to have been the Bishop of Benevento and was martyred during the Great Persecution led by the Roman Emperor Diocletian for trying to protect other Christians.
His decapitation is believed to have taken place in Pozzuoli but his remains were transferred to Naples in the 15th century to be housed in the Duomo.
|Pope Francis kisses the phial containing San Gennaro's blood|
at a ceremony at the Naples Duomo in 2015
On 19 September in 1926, immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City to celebrate the Festa di San Gennaro there for the first time.
Over the years the festival has expanded into an 11-day street fair celebrating Italian food and drink.
|The Festival of San Gennaro is celebrated every year|
on Mulberry Street in New York's Little Italy
There is a major shrine to San Gennaro in the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Manhattan.
Festivals are also held in the Bronx, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Nevada and Seattle.
On the few occasions the miracle hasn’t happened in the Duomo in Naples, Neapolitans have dreaded a catastrophe occurring. In 1980, one occasion when the blood did not turn to liquid, a massive earthquake later struck the region.
|The imposing entrance to the Duomo on Via Duomo, off|
Via Tribunali in Naples
The Duomo in Naples, in Via Duomo, off Via Tribunali, was built over the ruins of two earlier Christian churches for Charles I of Anjou at the end of the 13th century. One of the main attractions inside is the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, which contains many precious works of art. The Duomo is also sometimes referred to as Cattedrale di San Gennaro. It is open to the public from 8.30 to 1.30 and 2.30 to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 8.30 to 1.30 and 4.30 to 7.30pm on Sundays.
It is not known whether Gennaro was born in Benevento or Naples, but he is believed to have become a priest in Benevento when he was just 15 years old. In ancient times Benevento was one of the most important cities in southern Italy and there are many Roman remains to be seen there, including a triumphal arch erected in honour of Trajan and an amphitheatre.
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(Photo of Mulberry Street in New York by Nightscream CC BY-SA 2.5)