Pope Hailed for Blood 'Half-Miracle'

Archbishop says Francis turned saint's blood back to liquid
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2015 1:30 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2015 3:00 AM CDT
Pope Hailed for Blood 'Half-Miracle'
Pope Francis, flanked by Naples Archbishop Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, looks at the relic believed to be the blood of St. Gennaro just after he kissed it.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis was credited with what could be deemed a half-miracle in Naples, Italy, on Saturday, although it didn't involve bringing anybody halfway back to life or turning water halfway into wine. Instead, the normally-solidified blood of St. Gennaro, the city's patron saint, half-liquefied when the pope kissed the glass ampoule it was held in, according to the archbishop of Naples. After the archbishop told the congregation that the blood had changed consistency, showing the saint's love for Naples and the pontiff, Francis said, "We can see the saint only half loves us. We must all spread the word, so that he loves us more," according to the Catholic Herald.

The saint was martyred in AD305, and the faithful have long believed that if they pray enough, the blood preserved in the ancient relic will become liquid on the three feast days a year when it's put on display, although skeptics believe the change in storage conditions or ancient chemicals in the ampoule could explain the miracle, NBC News reports. But it doesn't always liquefy: The blood last changed consistency in the presence of a pontiff when Pius IX visited Naples in 1848; it didn't liquefy even halfway for John Paul II in 1979 or Benedict XVI in 2007, the Herald reports. (Last month, Pope Francis opened a barbershop for Rome's homeless.)

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