Every Saturday before the first Sunday in May, the blood of San Gennaro (hopefully!) liquefies during a celebratory mass. Located at Il Duomo, two hermetically sealed ampoules store the dried blood of the city’s patron saint. Twice a year (including the patron saint’s day on September 19th), the Cardinal takes the ampoule from its side niche and shows parishoners that the miracle has taken place. If San Gennaro’s blood doesn’t liquefy, many say that terrible catastrophes will plague the city. Processions follow the mass and the streets are closed so that rows of vendors can sell candies and other delights.
If you miss San Gennaro’s miracle, once a week after the nine-thirty mass at the San Gregorio Armeno Church, the blood of Saint Patricia also liquefies. The patron saintess of Naples, she was a descendant of Constantine the Great who spent her life helping the needy of the city. Five hundred years after her death, a knight tried to pluck out Saint Patricia’s tooth as a memento and blood began to pour out of the cavity. The nuns of the church preserved some of this blood in vials. Now, after every Tuesday morning mass, worshippers can kiss the ampoule with her liquid blood inside.
Then, on any given day, you can visit the Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo where the physician and canonized saint San Giuseppe Moscati rests. Worshippers come here and leave silver ex-voto body parts along the walls that they want to have healed. Many say their illnesses have miraculously disappeared thanks to Saint Moscati’s blessings.
If you leave your doubts aside, you’ll find that these churches hold a bit of community spirit and a sense of hope. They are charming to visit and are also what give Naples its reputation of being the ‘city of miracles.’