Januarius


januarius.jpg

A quick post about a saint about whom Saint of the Day says “Nothing is known of Januarius’s life.”  A greater mystery is a reliquary of Januarius’s blood in the Naples’ cathedral which is dry most of the time but is said to miraculously liquefy on his feast day each year.  Januarius himself was the Bishop of Benevento martyred by beheading in 305.

My interest in the saint is due to the San Gennaro Festival held in Little Italy in New York when I was a child.  The patron saint of Naples is celebrated with a ten-day street fair which includes a parade of the saint’s statue through the straights.  Attending this festival was a highlight of my childhood, mainly because it was so enormous.  It always felt like a great accomplishment if we could make it the whole way along Mulberry Street past the rides, games, and vendors from Houston to Canal Street.

A nice treat was zeppole, fried dough with confectionery sugar, although you couldn’t eat too many or you would through up.  You couldn’t take them home either, because if you let them sit overnight they would miraculously harden into rock-like pastries.  We called these lead zeppoles.

Anyhow, I’m not sure if there’s a lesson here, but it is fascinating that the life of a 4th century martyr can lead to such a joyous celebration held each year in a city half a world away.

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