Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Hoax Miracle News - Failure of the San Gennaro's Blood Hoax Worries Neapolitan Catholics

Naples Cathedral
Blood of Catholic saint fails to liquefy despite hours of prayer, sparking worries about future

The fake 'miracle of San Gennaro's blood' is an tri-annual hoax perpetrated on the devout Catholics of Naples who attend the rather drab cathedral in a run-down slum area just north of the docks, in May, September and December.

They go to pray and hold a special mass, then witness a priest mutter a few magic spells, give a vial containing a brownish mixture of iron chloride, calcium carbonate and salt, all of which can be found locally, a good shake until it becomes 'liquid', then hold it up for the crowds to see and proclaim the 'miracle' of the liquefaction of what is claimed to be a sample of the blood of a local saint who died about 1700 years ago.

This saint, Saint Januarius or San Gennaro, is believed to protect Naples from earthquakes and the brooding, ever present menace from nearby Vesuvius.

Back in 2015, Pope Francis himself participated in this blatant conjuring trick hoax, despite working hard to give the impression of being honest and sincere. On that occasion, the 'miracle' worked, to the relief of all concerned, albeit the 'blood' very quickly turned back to dry dust very shortly afterwards.

Fr. Vincenzo de Gregorio, Showing the stubbornly solid 'blood' in the reliquary.

Pope Francis helping with the stunt in 2015. On that occasion the 'blood' liquified briefly, then went solid again, prompting Pope Francis to claim "It seems that the saint loves us a little bit. We have to convert a little more for him to love us completely."
If the 'blood' liquifies on cue, this is taken as a sign that the saint still loves Naples and will protect it for another few months - so long as the people continue to give money to the church, of course. If however, it fails, as it did this time, Naples has displeased the saint and can expect earthquakes or worse - so they should give more money to the church.

In fact, Bay of Naples area is one of the most seismically active area of Europe. Not only is there Vesuvius to the south of the city but the north-western suburb, Fuorigrotta (smoking fields) is built on top of a magma dome that has the potential to become another Vesuvius, so earthquakes are common and almost guaranteed to occur within weeks of the 'miracle' failing, just as they do when it works.

On Wednesday however, as Fr. Vincenzo de Gregorio, abbot of the Chapel of St. Januarius in Naples Cathedral, told the Catholic News Agency:
When we took the reliquary from the safe, the blood was absolutely solid and remains absolutely solid.
Despite more prayers throughout the day, the mixture in the vial stubbornly refused to 'miraculously liquify'. Fr. Vincenzo however, reassured the people of Naples that there was no need to panic. "It’s alright, we will await the sign with faith", he said.

Despite this reassurance however, many Neapolitans can recall the devastating earthquake the killed about 3000 people in 1980, a few months after a similar failure. In fact, failures are common in December, according to Vatican journalist, Francesco Antonio Grana. Those in May and September normally work. And of course, with earthquakes almost a daily occurrence in the Bay of Naples area, it would be something of a miracle in its own right, if a failure was not followed within a few weeks by one.

Naples is a city noted for its traffic chaos and for being the crime capital of Europe, where the Cathedral is kept locked because of the habit of Neapolitans of stealing anything that isn't bolted to the floor. It is also dirty with rubbish often piling up in the streets when the local crime syndicates who run the refuse collection haven't had a big enough bribe to do the work the city pays them to do.

The whole of the Bay coast is a mess resulting from uncontrolled, unrestricted development in the 1960s, with now-derelict disused factories where there could have been smart hotels and restaurants along the coast of what could have been one of the jewels in the Mediterranean and a major tourist attraction and foreign exchange earner for the poverty-stricken region. Fortunately, Sorento, Amalfi and the Sorentine Peninsula to the south were spared this wanton vandalism. It's not hard therefore to understand how a long-dead saint could be displeased by Naples. Frankly it's hard to see what there is to be pleased about.

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