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Bishop of Benevento, and companions (southern Italy) (entered heaven around 302)
I only have a few minutes, but tonight’s interrogation session looks like it’s going to be a long one, and after those I am usually out of commission for at least twelve hours, so I thought I better respond now, even though I’ll have to be brief.
You don’t need to worry about your skepticism when it comes to the miracle associated with today’s saint. It is not an article of faith (miracles not recorded in scripture are never articles of faith), and even if it is true (and there seems to be plenty of authenticating evidence), remember that God does such things in order to bolster people’s faith. If your faith is bolstered in other ways, praised be the Lord who is so versatile! Also, you should remember that the real reason for venerating every saint is their fidelity to God and to the Church. Januarius and his seven companions (clergy and laity, it should be remembered) are no exception. The holy bishop risked his life to visit his Christian friends who had been imprisoned for their faith at the start of the Emperor Diocletian’s vast and violent persecution. He was spotted and reported. The Governor apprehended him. He was interrogated, tortured, humiliated, and then thrown in prison with the rest. They were all condemned as enemies of the state (they wouldn’t worship the Roman gods) and sentenced to be torn to pieces by wild beasts. They accepted their sentence and stayed firm in their faith. When the animals were let into the arena, much to the shock and disappointment of the crowd who had gathered to enjoy the spectacle, they sat calmly on their haunches, entirely uninterested in the free lunch being offered them. Nothing the guards could do altered their appetite, and finally the governor had to have the saints beheaded. It seems that some of the bishop’s blood was preserved, and it is that blood which liquefies on this day (and some other days) every year (as it has done for the last 500 years – at least, that’s the recorded history of the miracle). It’s as if the Creator is continually verifying the saint’s fidelity. But if you prefer to admire Januarius’ fidelity under trial instead of his blood’s faithful liquefaction, don’t sweat it.
Whoops – really gotta go, here come the guards.