Died: c. 305 AD
Cause of death: Execution
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: Ancient Rome
Executive summary: Patron saint of Naples
St. Januarius, or San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. According to the legend, he was bishop of Benevento, and flourished towards the close of the 3rd century. On the outbreak of the persecution by Diocletian and Maximian, he was taken to Nola and brought before Timotheus, governor of Campania, on account of his profession of the Christian religion. After various assaults upon his constancy, he was sentenced to be cast into the fiery furnace, through which he passed wholly unharmed. On the following day, along with a number of fellow martyrs, he was exposed to the fury of wild beasts, which, however, laid themselves down in tame submission at his feet. Timotheus, again pronouncing sentence of death, was struck with blindness, but immediately healed by the powerful intercession of the saint, a miracle which converted nearly five thousand men on the spot. The ungrateful judge, only roused to further fury by these occurrences, caused the execution of Januarius by the sword to be forthwith carried out. The body was ultimately removed by the inhabitants of Naples to that city, where the relic became very famous for its miracles, especially in counteracting the more dangerous eruptions of Vesuvius. Whatever the difficulties raised by his Acta, the cult of St. Januarius, bishop and martyr, is attested historically at Naples as early as the 5th century. Two phials preserved in the cathedral are believed to contain the blood of the martyr. The relic is shown twice a year, in May and September. On these occasions the substance contained in the phial liquefies, and the Neapolitans see in this phenomenon a supernatural manifestation. The miracle of St. Januarius did not occur before the middle of the 15th century.
A great number of saints of the name of Januarius are mentioned in the martyrologies. The best known are the Roman martyr (festival, the 10th of July), whose epitaph was written by Pope Damasus I, and the martyr of Cordova, who forms along with Faustus and Martialis the group designated by Prudentius by the name of tres coronae. The festival of these martyrs is celebrated on the 13th of October.
Roman Catholic Bishop Benevento
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