Incorrupt bodies of the Saints -St Charbel Makhlouf -incorruptable

"The Incorruptables" -The incorrupt bodies of certain Saints

What is perhaps one of the most unusual phenomenon regarding the bodies of Saints is that of the miraculous preservation of a great number of them after being interred for years in conditions that normally should have provoked their destruction according to the laws of nature, and even more so because in almost every case of incorruption in the lives of the Saints the bodies were not embalmed or preserved in any way. Yet in spite of not being embalmed or treated in any fashion, the bodies of “the incorruptables” as they are called, have remained lifelike, flexible and often sweetly scented many years after their death. Many are now displayed under altars in glass-fronted reliquaries, to the admiration and wonder of countless people.

Human remains decompose according to natural laws, and moisture in the body along with the environment of the tomb in which the remains are placed is the primary factors that influence the decomposition of the body. Regardless of these influences, the body will begin decomposition immediately after death, and will continue to decompose in the days, weeks and months afterwards, regardless of the preservation methods (or lack thereof) that are used, although those preserved will normally decompose at a slower rate. Nevertheless decomposition cannot normally be completely inhibited, regardless of the preservation methods used.

Nevertheless, the bodies of numerous Saints have survived decomposition for decades and even centuries. Even more remarkably, there are even a couple of circumstances where the holy remains were subjected not only to normal conditions of burial, but to the appli¬cation of quicklime, and even one’s whose mutilated body was subjected to torturous conditions which in reality should have hastened the body's destruction.

There are, in fact, several hundered confirmed and documented cases of incorruption in the Catholic church. Many are canonized Saints or Blesseds, however some are simply considered holy persons. Lists of many of these can be found on the internet. What will be presented here is a very recent and well documented case of incorruption that occurred in modern times concerning the holy Catholic monk of the Maronite rite, St. Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898).

Charbel Makhlouf(sometimes spelled Sharbel) was born on May 8, 1828, in the village of Biqa-Kafra in the high mountains of Northern Lebanon. He was given the name of Joseph at his baptism, and he was the last of the five children born to very poor but religious parents. From early childhood he showed a strong attraction to prayer and solitude, and at age 23 he left home to become a monk in the Monastery of St. Maroun at Annaya. After being received into the novitiate, he was given the name Charbel, the name of an early martyr.

After the usual theological and secular studies, he was ordained a priest on July 23, 1859 and was assigned to the Monastery of St. Maroun, where he spent sixteen years with his fellow bretheren, living a communal life of prayer and devotion to God.
In 1875 he received the permission of his superiors to live alone in a private hermitage named Saints Peter and Paul, which was not far from the monastery, and which was used by the priests during days of quiet personal retreat. It was a rugged and simple cabin, with poor heat and the bare necessities of life. It was in this secluded sanctuary that he spent the remaining twenty-three years of his life in the practice of severe scarifices and mortification. It is recorded by his companions that he often wore a hair shirt, slept on the hard ground, and ate only one meal a day.

During his lifetime he was most notable for his remarkable devotion to the Holy Eucharist and his preference for saying daily Mass at 11:00 a.m., so he could spend almost all the morning in preparation for the Mass, and the rest of the day in thanksgiving afterwards.

After 23 years of daily sacrifice in such a meager existence, in 1898 he suffered a seizure while saying Mass, and a priest assisting at the Holy Sacrifice was forced to pry the Holy Eucharist from his grasp. The holy monk died eight days later on Christmas Eve at the age of seventy. He was buried very simply in the monastery cemetery where so many saintly monks before him had been buried. According to monastic custom, the body, which was not embalmed, was dressed in the full habit of the Order and was placed into the ground without a coffin.

A miraculous light appears above his tomb
Given such a hidden existence, he would most certainly have been forgotten had not a most extraordinary phenomenon occurred at his grave in the form of an extraordinary bright light, which surrounded his tomb for forty-five nights following the interment. Countless local townspeople saw the miraculous light and because of it and the enthusiasm of the many witnesses of this prodigy, the officials of the monastery requested permission from the ecclesiastical authorities to exhume the body four months after the saint's death.

On the day of the exhumation, his grave was opened in the presence of the superiors of the Order, the monks of the monastery, and many villagers, the body was miraculously found in perfect condition to the amazement of everyone, even though, as the result of frequent rains which had inundated the cemetery several times since the burial, the body was found floating on mud in a flooded grave. Given that St Charbel was buried in the ground without a casket and in very wet conditions, such circumstances certainly should have expedited decompostition.

After being cleansed and reclothed in fresh garments, the body was reverently laid in a wooden coffin and placed in a corner of the private chapel of the monastery for the admiration and contemplation of the monks and the faithful.

Additionally, a remarkable phenomenon accompanied this exhumation; from the pores of the body there exuded a liquid described as perspiration and blood, which had the distinct odor of blood. As a result of this transpiration, the blood-stained clothing upon his person was changed twice a week. Small pieces of this cloth soaked in this mysterious fluid are distributed as relics and these have been said to effect cures.

Among the men of medicine who examined the body was Dr. Elias Elonaissi who declared on November 16, 1921:
"I observed that the pores emitted a matter like sweat; a strange and inexplicable thing according to the laws of nature, for this body that has been dead for so many years. I have renewed the same examination many times, at different periods; the phenomenon has always been the same."

Another physician, Dr. George Choukrallah, examined the body a total of 24 times during 17 years and declared:
"I have always been astonished at its state of preservation and espe¬cially this reddish liquid exuded by it. .. My personal opinion based on study and experience, is that this body is preserved by a supernatural power."

The phenomenon is more astounding when one considers that in 1918, following a simple autopsy, the body was exposed on the terrace during the heat of summer for three months without the body decomposing and without drying up the source of the fluid.

On July 24, 1927, after the body of Father Charbel was minutely examined by two physicians of the French Medical Institute at Beirut, it was clothed in sacerdotal garments and was placed in a new coffin of wood covered with zinc. Various documents drawn up by the physicians, the Judge of the Ecclesiastical Commission, the Defender of the Faith, a notary and superiors of the Order, were placed in a zinc tube, which was firmly closed and placed beside the body.

Then, after it was sealed with the episcopal crest of the Commission, the coffin was placed in a new tomb especially prepared in the wall of an oratory. The coffin was placed on two stones to prevent contact with the dampness of the soil, and after being carefully sealed with masonry, the tomb was left undisturbed for twenty-three years.

On February 25 of the Holy Year 1950, pilgrims to the shrine noticed a liquid seeping from a corner of the tomb and flowing onto the floor of the oratory. The father superior of the monastery, on exam¬ining the liquid and fearing damage to the contents of the tomb, had it opened in the presence of the assembled community. The tomb was found dry and the coffin in the same condition as when it was placed in position, except that a reddish colored liquid was seen dripping through a crack in the foot of the casket.

Permission to examine the contents of the sealed casket was ob¬tained, and in the presence of many ecclesiastical authorities, offi¬cials of the Order and attending physicians, the seal was broken on April 22, 1950. The body was once again found completely free of any trace of corruption and was perfectly flexible and lifelike. The sweat of liquid and blood continued to exude from the body, and the garments were found stained with blood, the white content of the fluid having collected on the body in an almost solidified condition. Part of the chasuble had rotted and the zinc tube containing the official documents was covered with corrosion.

And so it was for 67 years in modern times that the body of Saint Charbel remained perfectly preserved, the case itself be thoroughly documented and examined by medical professionals and described by all accounts as being supernaturally sustained during this 67 year period. For reasons known only to Himself, God chose not to continue the miracle, and at the time of the beatification in 1965, the body was found to have finally complied with the laws of nature. Today, only his bones remain, and these are of a red color, and the discharge of the fluid has ceased.

-“A Miraculous Star in the East, Charbel Makhlouf” by Paul Daher, published by the Monastery of St. Maron. Annaya-Djebeil, Lebanon 1952.
-“The Incorruptables” by Joan Carroll Cruz, 1977, Tan Books.
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Raised from the dead -Saints who brought people back to life

Saints Who Raised The Dead

The book "Saints Who Raised The Dead" by Father Albert J. Hebert documents true stories of 400 resurrection miracles in the lives of the Saints. Jesus says to His apostles in the Gospel of John: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it." (John 14:12-13) And again He commanded His apostles: "Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give."
And following Jesus command, we have in the Acts of the Apostles Peter raising Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:40), and later Paul raising Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:12). And after the Apostles we have the Saints continuing the mission and the mandate of Jesus to "Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons" and to "evangelise unto the ends of the earth." In the book, "Saints who raised the dead" there are dozens of Saints listed along with an explanation of the resurrection miracles that they performed. Some of the many listed are St Ignatius of Loyola, ST Paul of the Cross, St Catherine of Siena, St Hyacinth, St Martin of Tours, St Ambrose and many others. But probaly one of the greatest evangeliser and missionary Saints was St Francis Xavier. The focus of this article will be the many persons that St Francis brought back to life through the grace of God.

St Francis Xavier -The Missionary Miracle Worker
In light of his extensive evangelizing, missionary travels and hardships, the great Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since St. Paul. He is known as the "Apostle of the Indies," and the "Apostle of Japan” for in about ten short years (1541-1552) Francis did the work of many individual missionaries, spreading the Catholic Faith from Goa (Portuguese territory in western India), over South India, Ceylon, Bengal, Cape Comorin, the Moluccas, Spice Islands, Malacca, and through the China Sea to Japan where he died-alone except for one companion, a Chinese youth named Antiry, on the Japanese island of Sancian, waiting for a ship to China. On his journeys St. Francis Xavier converted hundreds of thousands, and the impact of his work lasted for centuries.

Those exotic lands were vastly different from the Basque country of his native northern Spain and the Xavier Castle on the fertile mountain slope overlooking the Aragon River. There in the Kingdom of Navarre, Francis Xavier had been born in 1506, the youngest of the six children of the Chancellor of Navarre, Don Juan de Jassu (a doctor of law), and the very beautiful Donna Maria Azpilcueta y Xavier.

Francis Xavier was a brilliant and attractive personality. As a student and lecturer at the great University of Paris, he came under the influence of St. Ignatius Loyola. Francis was among the first seven to take their vows in the fledgling Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius; he was later the last to make the famed Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. If Francis had remained in Europe and the universities he might have become famous as a great teacher or doctor of the Church, judging by the promise of his already brilliant accomplishments.

At that time it came about that King John III of Portugal asked the Pope to send six members of the new society to do mission work in Asia. He wanted them to leave in the royal galleon of the Governor of Portuguese India in April, 1541. Ignatius could spare only two Jesuits, and one of them, Bobadilla, became seriously ill with a severe fever at the last minute. It was apparently with dismay on the part of both Ignatius and Francis that the latter became the substitute.

Then and there the history of the Church and its missions was changed by the workings of Divine Providence. So often it seems that there is a "sacrifice of brilliant talents"; the ability to teach metaphysics in university classes and the meticulously acquired knowledge of Greek and Latin give way to the simplest form of catechism, as a missionary instructs the children, pagans, and cast-offs of many distant places, returning again to language study as he struggles with the idioms of foreign dialects. But God knows what He is about.

Due to inclement weather it took the packed galleon of 900 passengers 13 months to complete its voyage. It arrived at Goa in May, the month of Mary, 1542. There St. Francis Xavier spent five months before traveling on to Cape Com-orin. In Goa he preached, cared for the sick and for prisoners, taught children, and endeavored to bring Chris¬tian morality to the Portuguese there, particularly denouncing the concubinage which was so prevalent among them.

Besides his numerous cures, there were many other wonders in St. Francis' life: gifts of tongues, predictions, bilocation, calming a storm at sea, and more. Francis had been "all things to all men"; he was known and loved (and sometimes hated) by great and small in all walks of life. Perhaps the greatest wonder of all is the fact that he baptized 100,000 with his own hand. That remarkable right arm is still preserved and venerated.

Along with the miracles of raising the dead, Butler speaks of four such events which occurred in one period alone, according to the canonization process. Those four resurrections were those of a catechist bitten by a venomous snake, a child drowned in a pit, and a young man and a young girl dead of pestilential fever.

On the Fishery Coast, St. Francis Xavier worked enough miracles to fill a large volume. Once when he was about to begin Mass in a small church at Combutur, a crowd entered with the corpse of a boy who had been drowned in a well. His mother threw herself at the feet of St. Francis-who was also the one who had baptized this child. She implored him to restore the boy to life. Francis said a short prayer, took the dead child by the hand, and bade him arise. The child rose and immediately ran to his mother.

There was a pair of youths who accompanied Francis as catechists. During the night one of them was bitten in the foot by a "cobra da capello." In the morning the youth was found dead. Francis took some saliva from his own mouth, touched the foot of the poisoned catechist, made the Sign of the Cross over him, took him by the hand and bade him arise in the Name of Jesus Christ. The youth responded immediately and was able to continue the missionary journey at once. It was as simple as if he had just gotten up from sleep, instead of having been restored to life itself.

Several chroniclers attribute to St. Francis other resurrections of the dead in that part of the country. Only the Lord knows how many Francis actually recalled from the dead in all his missionary life, laboring night and day. Large numbers could be expected when one recalls that he was the greatest missionary since St. Paul, and if one considers how many of the dead have been raised by other great missionaries.
Further, it is stated in the processes concerning Francis that one of the children he often sent among the sick in his name raised two dead persons to life. The Christian "children" of St. Francis worked many prodigies. One is re¬minded of the helpers St. Vincent Ferrer commissioned to continue working miracles for the multitudes during the times when the saint himself was exhausted.

The following miracle of St. Francis Xavier is recorded in the Relatio documented in the time of Pope Paul V. In the streets of Mutan, Francis met a funeral procession bearing the body of a youth who had died of a malignant fever. Ac-cording to the custom of that area, the body had been kept for 24 hours wrapped in a shroud. Like Jesus with the widow of Naim, Francis pitied the bereaved parents; they pleaded with him.

The saint knelt down, raised his eyes to Heaven, and prayed to God for the lad's life. Then he sprinkled the covered corpse with holy water and ordered the funeral shroud cut open. When the body was visible, Francis made the Sign of the Cross over it, took the youth by the hand, and bade him in the Name of Jesus to live.
The youth rose up alive, and Francis gave him to his parents in good health. The crowd marveled and praised the holiness of Francis. The youth's parents and friends, in grat¬itude and memory of the deed, erected a great cross on the spot and held a festival there.

At another time, St. Francis was preaching at Coulon, near Cape Comorin in Travancore at the southern tip of India opposite Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This was a seaport, a rough town where many Christians dishonored their name. Francis, while preaching in the Portuguese church there, felt baffled and stymied by the wall of obstinacy he met in his hardhearted listeners.

Now it happened that a man had been buried in the church the day before. St. Francis stopped preaching; he prayed to God to honor the Blood and the Name of His Son and to soften the hearts of the congregation. Then he directed a few men to open the nearby grave of the man who had been buried the day before. He had prayed in tears, and now he accompanied his directions with the burning words of holy eloquence. He told the congregation how God was pleased even to raise the dead in order to convert them.

When they opened the tomb and brought out the body, it was already giving off a stench. On Francis' orders they tore apart the shroud-to find the body already beginning to putrefy. Francis expressed his desire that they should all take note of these facts. (They could hardly escape them!) Then the saint fell on his knees, made a short prayer, and commanded the dead man, in the Name of the Living God, to arise.
The man arose-alive, vigorous and in perfect health! The onlookers were filled with awe. Those who needed it fell at the saint's feet to be baptized, and a large number of people were converted because of this miracle.

The two miracles above were accepted by the auditors of the Rota as resting on incontrovertible evidence from two witnesses, Emanuel Gaga and Joam Audicondam, as well as from one "dead" person himself. These great miracles led almost the entire kingdom--except for the king and a few of his courtiers-to become Christians within a few months. And as Father Coleridge points out in his two-volume life of St. Francis Xavier, "We must take these miracles as but specimens."

Why would God grant anyone the power to perform such great miracles? This becomes easier to understand when one appreciates the immense number of souls converted by St. Francis Xavier. Within about a year he had established up to 45 Christian communities in the area. It is hard to conceive of such mass conversions, whether by Francis Xavier or by any missionary apostle, without great and numerous wonders to testify to the truth of the apostle's words. Our Lord used His own miracles as signs that testified to His Messiahship and Kingdom. His wonders proved that He was, indeed, the Son of God sent by the Father. He ordered His disciples to work similar miracles with generosity, and promised that they would work even greater wonders than He had.

Man is inclined to measure miracles by his own limited standards and abilities. But for God, of course, the "great" and the "small" miracle are equally easy. Yet it somehow seems more wonderful when (as with Lazarus) someone who has been dead for days is raised, rather than one who has very recently died. But death is death-whether it has lasted a minute or a week-and the wonder of restoration is equally marvelous in either case.

At Malacca St. Francis Xavier worked a miracle for someone who had been buried for several days. When Fran¬cis was away from the town, the daughter of a recently baptized woman died. The mother had sought Francis everywhere while the girl was still ill. When this earnest parent learned that Francis had returned, she was full of the simple faith that Francis, whom she was convinced could have healed her daughter-as he had cured people en masse¬could just as easily raise the girl from the dead. As Martha said to Jesus, "But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." (John 11 :22).

When the mother found St. Francis she threw herself at his feet, and like Martha and Mary, exclaimed that if he had been there her daughter would not have died; nonetheless, nothing was difficult for God, and she knew that Francis, with his prayers, could return her to life. As Jesus had mar¬veled at the faith of the Roman centurion and the Syropheonician woman, St. Francis Xavier marveled at the faith and confidence of this recent convert.

Since the mother seemed so worthy of such a favor, Fran¬cis prayed for God to grant her this consolation. Then he turned to the mother and told her to go to the grave; her daughter was alive. Hopeful, fearful, not disbelieving, but because Francis had not offered to come himself to the tomb, she answered simply that the girl had been three days buried. But St. Francis had measured her testing tolerance.

She questioned St. Francis no further; with shining faith she ran rejoicing to the church where her daughter had been buried. At the burial place the mother, together with many other witnesses who had hurried there with her, had the stone raised from the grave. The dead daughter, buried three days, came out alive! As with the raising of Lazarus, no one could doubt the verity of such a miracle.

One must admire the tenacious faith of this newly converted woman. Such strong faith is seldom found. The great faith and wisdom of the apostle met and matched the faith of the mother, when he asked her to go to the tomb alone.

This power of raising the dead from a distance seems to have been a special charism of St. Francis Xavier. In Japan, at or near Cagoxima, a pagan nobleman lost his only daughter. He was greatly grieved. Some recent Christian converts, sympathizing with him, recommended that he seek help from the God of the Christians and the prayers of the "great teacher of the Portuguese." The father went to St. Francis and cast himself at his feet. He was so choked with emotion he could not speak. But the saint understood.

St. Francis went into the little oratory where he offered Mass. His helper, Joam Fernandez, went along with him. After Francis prayed for a few moments he came out and told the anxious father to go, that his prayers were heard. That was all Francis said, so the nobleman turned homeward, hurt and grieved.

But on his way a servant met him and joyfully told him that his daughter was alive. Next, the girl herself came run¬ning and threw herself upon her father's neck. She informed her father that when she had breathed her last breath, im-mediately two horrible demons had seized her. They were about to hurl her into Hell when two venerable men came to her rescue. The next moment she found herself alive and well.
When the girl's father brought her to St. Francis Xavier's house she identified Francis and Fernandez as her two deliverers. Father and daughter were subsequently in¬structed and baptized.

Another miracle occurred when Francis was on a ship, the Santa Croce, going to San Chan. A Musselman's five-year¬old son fell overboard at a time when the ship was running fast before the wind. It was impossible even to attempt to save him. The father had been in despair for three days when he chanced upon Francis on the deck. Francis somehow -for the glory of God? -had not heard of the tragedy. He asked the father if he would believe in Jesus Christ if his child were restored. (A small child, overboard in the sea for three days, miles behind the ship, and Francis confidently asks such a question!) The man said he would believe.

A few hours passed, probably while Francis was praying. Suddenly the Musselman met his child, bright and joyous, running to him on the deck. The father and his entire family were baptized.

"For, Amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be im¬possible to you." (Matt. 17:19). The "mountain" may represent the great obstacle of unbelief to be overcome. A mustard seed is very, very small. Suppose one's faith were the size of a watermelon seed ... or a coconut ...?

In Japan at Cagoxima, Francis blessed the swollen body of a deformed child, making it straight and beautiful. And that expresses well the objective of the saints: to make all men straight and beautiful in the eyes of God.

Among his later miracles, Francis raised to life a young pagan woman "of some quality" who had been dead a whole day. At Malacca he restored to life a young man, Francis Ciavos, who later became a Jesuit.

St. Francis Xavier died on December 3, 1552, at the age of 46. Before his burial, the coffin was filled with lime-two sacksfull beneath the body and two over it-in order to hasten decomposition so that at some future time the bones could be easily transported to India. Ten weeks later, when the saint's body was exhumed to be taken to Malacca, it was found to be perfectly incorrupt.

Only 12 years after he had first embarked on his missionary journeys, the body of St. Francis Xavier was brought back to Goa in veritable triumph. Around the saint's body miracles were recorded every day of that autumn and winter. When his remains were temporarily placed in the chapel of the College of St. Paul on March 15, 1554, several blind were cured, as also were paralytics, those with palsy, etc. Francis had been the special envoy of both the Holy See and of King John III of Portugal; on the order of the King a verbal process was made with the utmost accuracy, in Goa and in other parts of India; in it, accounts were taken of many miracles wrought through St. Francis Xavier.

Today the body of St. Francis Xavier is dry and shrunken, but there is still no corruption. Many parts of the body, notably the right arm mentioned above, have been removed and sent to various places as most precious relics. In 1974-75 the body of the saint (in a glass case) was exhibited for viewing and veneration for a six -week period. Today it rests in a silver reliquary in the Basilica of Born Jesu in Goa, India.

-St Francis Xavier, pray for us!

Primary source is the excellent book "Saints Who Raised The Dead -True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles" by Father Albert J. Hebert, S.M., Tan Books and Publishers.

-Click here for an additional article on Saints Who Raised the Dead, which highlights the many extraordinary resurrection miracles of St Vincent Ferrer.

Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias -Jesus comes alive on the Cross

The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias –Jesus Christ comes alive on the Cross

The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias is located in the 16th century Church of St. Peter in Santander, Spain, not far from the popular alleged apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Garabandal, Spain. The Crucifix is a beautiful 6 foot life-size figure of the crucified Jesus, and is located directly above the main altar. Arranged on either side of the crucifix, and somewhat below it, are life-size figures of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary and the Apostle John. The miraculous crucifix is believed to have been the work of Pedro de Mena, who died in 1693, and the crucifix was given to the church by Father Diego de la Piedra Secadura, who had been born at Limpias in 1716.

The crucifix is a meditation on the sufferings of Our Lord portraying Him in the final moments of His agony. Measuring six feet tall, the corpus is clothed with a loin cloth that is held in place with a rope. The feet are one atop the other and are pierced with a single nail. The index and middle fingers of both pierced hands are extended as though giving a final blessing. The face of Our Lord is of particular beauty, with its glass eyes looking toward Heaven so that, for the most part, only the whites of the eyes are visible.

The First Miracle -The eyes of Jesus on the crucifix miraculously come alive
The first recorded miracle involving this crucifix took place in 1914, five years before the grand miracles of 1919. The recipient of the favor was Don Antonio Lopez, a monk belonging to the Order of the Pauline Fathers who conducted a college in Limpias. His entire account reads as follows:

“One day in the month of August, 1914, I went into the parish church of Limpias, by order of my friend D. Gregorio Bringas, to fix the electric light over the high altar. In order to be able to work more comfortably I put two large cases on the altar, and on them a ladder, the ends of which I leaned against the wall that serves as a background to the figure of the Crucified One.

"After I had worked for two hours, in order to rest myself a little I began to clean the figure so that it could be seen more clearly. My head was on a level with the Head of the Christ, and at a distance of only a couple of feet from it. It was a lovely day and through the window in the sanctuary a flood of light streamed into the church and lit up the whole altar. As I was gazing at the crucifix with the closest attention, I noticed with astonishment that Our Lord's eyes were gradually closing, and for five minutes I saw them quite closed.

"Overwhelmed with fright at such an unexpected spectacle, I could still hardly quite believe what I saw, and was about to come down from the ladder. Notwithstand¬ing, my bewilderment was so great that my strength suddenly failed me; I lost my balance, fainted, and fell from the ladder onto the edge of the altar itself and down the steps into the sanctuary.

"After I had somewhat recovered, I was convinced from where I lay that the eyes of the figure on the crucifix were still closed. I pulled myself together hastily and went out in order to relate what had happened, and also to be medically examined, for my whole body was in great pain from the fall.

"A few minutes after I had left the church I met the sacristan, who was just going to ring the Angelus, as it was twelve o'clock noon. When he saw me so agitated and covered with dust he asked if anything had happened to me. I told him what had occurred, whereupon he said he was not surprised as he had already heard that the Santo Cristo had closed His eyes on one other occasion, and that it was probably brought about by the working of some interior mechanism.

"I asked him to collect the tools together and to put away the ladder, and generally to tidy up everything again. Then when I reached the college I told the Fathers the whole of the above incident. I was examined, but no wounds were found on my body and no broken bones, only a few bruises of slight importance.

"Thinking that the movement I had observed in the eyes of the figure was to be attributed in any case to a mechanism, I attached no further importance to the vision, but tried, however, to find out on what occasion this fact had already been observed, but without success, as no one could give me any information whatsoever about the matter.

"Since then I have often cleaned the crucifix, and at the same time examined it minutely, and am convinced that there is neither a spring nor any other mechanism on it. What is more, the eyes were so firmly fixed that even by pressing hard with one's fingers they could not be made to move in the least, nor could they be turned in any direction, as I have proved myself again and again.”


Father Antonio Lopez wrote the above account of his experience at the request of his superiors, and then kept the matter to himself. It was only on March 16, 1920, a year after the many miracles of 1919, that the above declaration was made public.

Spanish made replica of the Limpias crucifix
The Extraordinary Miracles of our Lord on the Crucifix of Limpias in 1919 –Jesus Once Again Comes Alive

During the time of the numerous miracles of the crucifix of Christ in Limpias the practice of the Catholic faith in the village of Limpias and the surrounding area was waning. The little town that is favored with the possession of the miraculous crucifix is located on the River Ason in the northernmost part of central Spain, near the Bay of Biscay. Because of this fact it is written that the venerable old Church of St. Peter that houses the Limpias crucifix was practically deserted at the time of the first miracle in 1914, and later those that took place in 1919.

In light of this, in an effort to re-ignite devotion to the beautiful crucifix and to encourage attendance at the venerable old church, the pastor, Rev. Thomas Echevarria, decided to accomplish this by means of a mission. After applying to the Capuchin monastery at Montehano, near Santander, two priests were placed at his disposal: Friar Anselmo de Jalon and Friar Agatangelo de San Miguel, both of whom were known for their apostolic zeal and success as missionaries.

On the last day of the mission, Sunday, March 30, while the Archpriest D. Eduardo Miqueli was celebrating Holy Mass, both missionaries were occupied in the confessional. Fr. Agatangelo, however, delivered the day's sermon based on the words, "My son, give me thy heart." (Prov. 23:26). While he was speaking, a girl of about 12 entered the confessional of Fr. Jalon and told him that the eyes of Christ on the cross were closed. Thinking that this was the product of the child's imagination, the priest ignored her claim until other children also came to him with the same message. After Fr. Agatangelo finished the address and was about to return to his confessional, Fr. Jalon approached him and told him of the children's claim. Both priests then looked at the crucifix but saw nothing unusual. Presently a man in the congregation shouted for everyone to look upon the crucifix. In a few moments the people confirmed with great excitement what the children had seen. Some of the people began crying, others shouted that they had seen a miracle, others fell to their knees in prayer while others called out to God for mercy.

After the parish priest was called from the sacristy and was told that the eyes of the Crucified were opening and closing and that the figure was turning His gaze from side to side, he, too, fell on his knees to pray. But his prayer was soon interrupted by many of the people who declared that the figure was perspiring and that Fr. Jalon should climb up to the crucifix to verify it. When a ladder was produced, Fr. Jalon climbed up and saw that the perspiration covered the figure's neck and chest. After touching the neck, he looked upon his fingers that were wet with the fluid. As verification of what had taken place, he showed his moistened fingers to the congregation. Once again agitation and excitement gripped the people so that it was a long time before they were calmed.

None of the priests saw the movements of the eyes, but Fr. Agatangelo later saw the miracle several times when he prayed alone in the church at night.
A report of all that had taken place was given by the Archpriest D. Eduardo to the bishop of Santander on April 2, 1919. This report was later published in the Boletin Eclesiastico of the diocese of Santander.

The Miraculous Apparitions of 1919 continue
The second set of public apparitions first took place on Palm Sunday, April 13, 1919, when two prominent men of Limpias approached the altar. Speaking of hallucination and mass hysteria as they looked upon the crucifix, one of them suddenly pointed upward and fell to his knees. At once the other man also fell to his knees, crying for mercy and proclaiming his belief in the miracle.

The third apparitions took place on Easter Sunday, April 20, in the presence of a group of nuns known as the Daughters of the Cross who conducted a girls' school in Limpias. They saw both the eyes and lips of the Santo Cristo move. At this time some of their students also saw the miracle, as did a group of people who were reciting the Holy Rosary. Their experience was quickly reported to the parish priest. The manifestations were repeated almost daily from April 24.

As can be expected, the church was often filled with people from Limpias and the neighboring towns who were hoping to witness the miracle. Reverend Baron Von Kleist reports that:

“Many said that the Saviour looked at them; at some in a kindly manner, and at others gravely, and at yet others with a penetrating and stern glance. Many of them saw tears in His eyes; others noticed that drops of blood ran down from the temples pierced by the crown of thorns; some saw froth on His lips and sweat on His body; others again saw how He turned His eyes from side to side, and let His gaze pass over the whole assembly of people; or how, at the Benediction, He made a movement of the eyes as if giving the blessing; how at the same time He moved the thorn-crowned head from one side to the other. Others had the impression that a deep, submissive sigh was wrested from His breast, some believed they saw Him whisper- in short, the most varied manifestations were observed on this crucifix.”

One of the first to declare his experience to the secular press was the well-known and highly respected D. Adolfo Arenaza. His testimony was published May 5, 1919 in the newspaper La Gazeta del Norte, which was published in Bilbao. He reported that he joined a procession going to Limpias in order to visit the crucifix. While looking through his field-glasses he saw the movement of the eyes four times. He further stated that it could not have been an effect of the light nor an hallucination, since people saw the miracle from all parts of the church. He then asked, "Does Our Lord really move His eyes ... I am rather of the opinion that He really does move them, for I have seen it myself."

Because of the newspaper reports, pilgrimages from near and distant towns began to arrive in Limpias, for the newspaper reports detailing accounts of the wonderful crucifix spread the news to all parts of Spain and finally to other countries including the United States. One journalist who watched in amazement at the movement of the eyes and mouth of our Lord stated:

“I could perceive two movements of the jawbone, as if He were saying two syllables with His lips. I shut my eyes quite tight and asked myself: "What will He have said?" The answer was not long in coming, for in my innermost self I clearly heard the significant and blessed words, "Love Me!"

One early group of pilgrims under the leadership of the Bishop of Toledo, Joseph Schrembs, arrived in Limpias from America. By the middle of November, 1919, 66 pilgrim trains had arrived at Limpias. Finally, by the year 1921, the number of pilgrims had increased to such an extent that foreign traffic in Limpias was determined to be greater than the visitors to Lourdes. Additionally, numerous Princes, Barons, politicians and other notables also visited Limpias, as did dignitaries of the Church in Spain including bishops and cardinals. Archbishops also arrived from Mexico, Peru, Manila, Cuba, and other foreign nations.

The multiple albums that are found in the sacristy of the church of Limpias contain well over 8,000 testimonies of people who had seen the wonderful apparitions. Of these, 2,500 were sworn on oath. Among these witnesses were members of religious orders, priests, doctors, lawyers, professors, and governors of universities, officers, merchants, workmen, countryfolk, unbelievers and even atheists.

The are several hundred testimonies from religious worldwide who witnessed the miracles. For example Father Celestino Maria de Pozuelo, a Capuchin monk, who visited Limpias on July 29, 1919 and wrote a detailed report that included this statement: " ... The face presented a vivid expression of pain: the body was a bluish colour, as if it had received cruel blows, and was bathed in perspiration. . ."

In his statement, Father Valentin Incio of Gijon tells that he visited Limpias on August 4, 1919 and joined a group of pilgrims who wen; witnessing the miracle. There were 30 to 40 people, two other priests, 10 sailors and a woman who was crying with emotion. Father Incio wrote:

“At first Our Lord seemed to be alive; His head then preserved its customary position and His countenance the natural expression, but His eyes were full of life and looked about in different directions... Then His gaze was directed towards the centre, where the sailors stood, whom He contemplated for a long time; then He looked to the left towards the sacristy with a remarkably stern glance which He retained for some time. Now came the most touching moment of all. Jesus looked at all of us, but so gently and kindly, so expressively, so lovingly and divinely, that we fell on our knees and wept and adored Christ. .. Then Our Lord continued to move His eyelids and eyes, which shone as if they were full of tears; then He moved His lips gently as if He were saying something or praying. At the same time the above mentioned lady who was beside me, saw the Master trying to move His arms and striving to get them loose from the Cross.”

Spanish made replica of the Limpias crucifix
Signing their names to this statement were the three priests, nine of the sailors and the lady.

The Coadjutor of St. Nicholas Church in Valencia, Father Paulino Girbes, relates in his statement of September 15, 1919 that he was in the company of two bishops and 18 priests when they knelt before the crucifix:

"... We all saw the face of the Santo Cristo become sadder, paler, and more bluish-looking. The mouth also was wider open than usual. The eyes gave a gentle glance now at the bishops and then in the direction of the sacristy. The features at the same time took on the expression of a man who is in his death-struggle. That lasted a long time. I could not restrain my tears and began to weep; the others were similarly affected..."

Father Joseph Einsenlohr submitted his statement on June 18, 1921. After offering Holy Mass at the altar below the crucifix, he sat in the church to attend the Mass being offered by another priest. He wrote:

“After the Santo Cristo moved His head and eyes for a certain time He began to pull at the shoulders, to writhe and to bend, as a man does when he is nailed alive to a cross. Everything was in motion, only the hands and feet remained nailed fast. In the end the whole body relaxed as if exhausted, then took up its natural position again with the head and eyes turned up in the direction of heaven. This whole scene of the dying Saviour lasted from the Sanctus until after the priest's Communion...”

A Capuchin monk named Father Antonio Maria de Torrelavega visited the crucifix on September 11, 1919, he saw blood streaming from the left corner of Our Lord's mouth. The next day, he:

.... observed anew, only still more frequently, the movement of the eyes, and saw, too, once more that blood was flowing down from the corner of the mouth ... Several times He also looked at me. Now I felt as if my whole being were shaken violently ... I stood up, therefore, and changed places three or four times, always observing, however, the same manifestations ... At about two o'clock, as I was kneeling in one of the central benches, I saw the Santo Cristo gazing at me again, and this so affected me that I had to hold on tight to the bench, as my strength was beginning to fail me ... I noticed that the countenance changed colour and became bluish and sad. Many other persons who were kneeling round me also observed this ... Now I verify it; there is no doubt the Santo Cristo moves His eyes. During my visit I saw the movement of the eyes about fifty times... “

Father Manuel Cubi, an author, lecturer and confessor of the Church del Pilar in Saragossa, Spain gave his statement on December 24, 1919. In the company of a group of people, he saw the Santo Cristo in a death agony.

“…One had the impression that Our Lord was trying to loosen Himself from the cross with violent convulsive movements; one thought to hear the death-rattle in His throat. Then He raised His head, turned His eyes, and closed His mouth. Now and then I saw His tongue and teeth ... For nearly half an hour He showed us how much we had cost Him, and what He had suffered for us during His abandonment and thirst on the cross.”

There are also many statements from physicians who were at first very skeptical and sought a scientific reason to disprove the “hysteria”.

A report made by Dr. Penamaria was published in the paper “La Montana” dated May, 1920. The doctor described what seemed to him to be "...a re-enactment of Christ's death on the Cross." He writes that after witnessing the movement of the statue's eyes and mouth, and after changing locations in the church to verify the miracle, he prayed for a more distinctive proof, something more extraordinary "... that would leave no scope to further doubt, and would give me positive grounds for His miracle, so that I might also proclaim it to all and sundry, and defend it against every opponent, even at the risk of losing my life." He then writes:

“This request seemed pleasing to Our Lord ... A moment later His mouth was twisted sharply to the left, His glassy, pain-filled eyes gazed up to heaven with the sad expression of those eyes that look and yet do not see. His leadcolored lips appeared to tremble; the muscles of the neck and breast were contracted and made breathing forced and laboured. His truly Hippocratic features showed the keenest pangs of death. His arms seemed to be trying to get loose from the cross with convulsive backward and forward movements, and showed clearly the piercing agony that the nails caused in His hands at each movement. Then followed the indrawing of a breath, then a second ... a third ... I do not know how many... always with painful oppression; then a frightful spasm, as with someone who is suffocating and struggling for air, at which the mouth and nose were opened wide. Now fol¬lows an outpouring of blood, fluid, frothing, that runs over the under-lip, and which the Saviour sucks up with His bluish, quivering tongue, that He slowly and gently passes two or three times in succession over the lower lip; then an instant of slight repose, another slow breath ... now the nose becomes pointed, the lips are drawn together rhythmically, and then extend, the bluish cheek-bones project, the chest expands and contracts vio¬lently after which His head sinks limply on His breast, so that the back of the head can be seen distinctly. Then ... He expires! . . . I have tried to describe in out¬line what I saw during more than two hours...”

An extraordinary revelation was observed by Dr. D. Pedro Cuesta in August, 1920. The doctor first tells that he was in the company of a priest, a doctor and a married couple. In the morning, during Holy Mass, his companions saw the miraculous movements but he did not, even though he moved from one position in the church to another. That afternoon he was persuaded to return to the church and saw this astounding revelation.

"When I fixed my gaze for the third or fourth time on the figure I noticed that the fleshy parts entirely disappeared, so that only the skin still remained, a skeleton on which I could have made anatomical studies. The head was completely dried up, until it, like the skin that I had seen, totally vanished. After I had not seen the figure at all for some time it reappeared, but as if mummified, until later on it was also restored by degrees in its fleshy parts. Yes, I observed clearly the formation of a hypertrophy (enlargement) of the head, which then also extended to the remaining parts of the body. Each of these apparitions was repeated twice.

"At the last stage of the second development I could no longer control myself, but cried out in terror and fled out of the church. A cowardly fear had taken possession of me, whereas I had never before known fear-let my description not be set down to exaggeration ... I, who was never ill, thought I should die on the spot. The instinct of self-preservation drove me out of the church or I should have had to be carried out as a corpse. So I stumbled out of the church and confessed with my whole heart to the people standing outside: By my reputation as a physician and on my word of honour, I take my oath to what I state herewith, and which I will also certify and ratify with my blood."

So emotionally spent was the doctor that he went on to say:

"I felt the necessity of taking some restorative [a tranquilizer]," which he did.

Dr. D.Eduardo Perez y Perez gives us a graphic medical report of what he saw on October 6, 1919:

“As I was praying before the crucifix of the Santo Cristo, He looked at me lovingly for nearly a minute ... then Christ raised His head, which then remained in quite a peaceful attitude. The muscles of the neck relaxed ... the eyes were at the same time wide open and turned upwards ... there ensued a violent inhalation with straining of the muscles of the neck, whereby the musculus cleidomastoideus especially stood out, and furthermore the musculi pectorales, the scalenus anterior, and the accessory respiratory muscles, with a considerable dilation of the intercostal spaces, as in the case, for example at the last struggle after mortal wounds ... For a moment He appeared on the point of death ... then He resumed His customary expression, as the artist had given it to the figure ... I must add that during the whole of that afternoon I saw the figure a reddish colour. The following day it was a yellowish or lead colour, as with a dying person ...”

There is also a report of a non-believer who was a medical student named D. Heriberto de la Villa. His testimony was published in the paper “Del Pueblo Astur” on July 8, 1919. He first strongly declares that: " ... auto-suggestion is quite out of the question, for I did not believe in the miracle when I went."

He later went into the church at the urging of a friend and saw the movement of the eyes and mouth. Doubting what he was seeing, he changed his location in the church to better study the movements and then saw the crucifix of Limpias:

“. . . gaze upon me with a terrible look full of anger, which makes me shudder, and I cannot help but bow my head ... I look up again and see how He is looking to the right, bowing His head, and turns it to the right, so that I can see the crown of thorns from behind ... Once again he turns on me the same angry look which makes such a deep impression upon me that I see myself obliged to leave the church."

Later that day he returned to the church and saw that,

“... little by little the breast and face became dark blue, the eyes move to the right and left, upwards and down, the mouth opens somewhat, as if He were breathing with difficulty. This I saw for fifteen to twenty minutes ... I also noticed that above the left eyebrow a wound formed, out of which a drop of blood flowed over the eyebrows, and remained stationary by the eyelids. After that I saw another drop of blood fall from the crown of thorns and flow over the face. I could distinctly discern it, for it was very red and contrasted with the dark blue colour of the face. Then I saw a quantity of blood drip from the crown of thorns onto the shoulder, but without touching the face. He opened His mouth wide, out of which a white matter like froth welled. At this moment a Dominican priest mounted the pulpit, whereupon Christ gazed steadily at him for five or six minutes ..."

"When the preacher ended with the words: "and now, Santo Cristo, give us Thy blessing," Christ opened His eyes and mouth, smiling, and bowed His head, as if He wished to give the benediction in reality. At this moment someone who was standing near me asked me if I would venture to swear on oath to what I saw ... Then I recognized that Christ wanted to prove to me the truth of what I saw; He opened His mouth again, out of which froth and blood streamed in great quantity and flowed out of the comers of the mouth quite distinctly ... Thereafter I believed that it was now my duty to swear upon oath to what I had seen, and I did so in the sacristy of the church.”

As noted above, most of those who saw the miracle instinctively felt the need to change locations within the church in order to verify what they had witnessed. For some, the miracle took place the first time they entered the church, but might not have taken place sometime later. For others, the miracle did not take place the first time, but occurred later in the day. Some did not see the miracle at all. As one witness testified: "The fact that these manifestations are seen by some, by others not, cannot be explained by the laws that are prescribed for nature."

The official position of the Catholic Church concerning the miraculous events at Limpias
Bishop Sanchez de Castro, the Bishop of Santander, in whose diocese Limpias belongs, introduced a canonical process on July 18, 1920 in which Rome was notified of the miraculous cures and manifestations. One year and one day later, a plenary indulgence was granted for a period of seven years to all the faithful who visit the holy crucifix.
-Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us!

Sources: “Miraculous Images of Our Lord” by Joan Carroll Cruz, 1995, Tan Books and Publishers

"The Wonderful Crucifix of Limpias: Remarkable Manifestations" By Baron Ewald von Kleist, Benzinger Brothers, 1922. Availible in its entirity for free online here . Note that this book was written only 3 years after the events, so the details provided are of very recent memory.

Bibliography-Resources-Books used for this website

Books used for this website:

-"The Incorruptables" by Joan Carroll Cruz, Tan Books, 1977, availible here

-"Relics" by Joan Carroll Cruz, Our Sunday Visitor, 1984

-This Is My Body, This Is My Blood Miracles of the Eucharist" by Bob and Penny Lord, Journeys of Faith, 1986

-"Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints" by Joan Carroll Cruz, Tan Books, 1997

"Padre Pio -The true Story", Bernard Ruffin, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1991, availible here

Blood Miracle of St Januarius-Gennaro An Ongoing Miracle of the Church

The Blood Miracle of Saint Januarius (Gennaro) -A miracle of the Church that is still occuring today

The liquefaction (becoming liquid) of the blood of St Januarius (Gennaro) is an extraordinary miracle of the Church that has been occurring up to 18 times each year for the past 600 years. It is only one of a number of blood miracles that have taken place, and in the case of St Januarius-Gennaro and others, are still taking place with blood that was collected soon after the death of certain martyrs. There is a well-documented history of these samples of blood liquefying at various times of the year, especially on the Saints' feast days.

This practice of gathering blood for relics, admittedly a somewhat surprising religious practice, nevertheless was a common practice beginning in the days of persecution when the early Christians soaked cloths in the blood shed by martyrs or, if possible, actually collected the liquid in flasks to keep as devotional items. In the catacombs these flasks were buried with the dead, their discovery indicating that the person had died a martyr. Throughout the centuries, blood has been collected from holy persons recently deceased, especially martyrs for the faith, with the specimens being carefully kept with devotion and veneration. These samples have been known to liquefy under various circumstances, at different seasons of the year, in various countries and in varied ways. Many samples still display wonderful reactions in our day, one of which, that of St Januarius we will here consider.

While it is scientifically known that blood once removed from the body soon coagulates and eventually spoils, and since this natural reaction was common knowledge among the medical faculty of the Middle Ages, a claim made by them of remarkable liquefacations can hardly be ignored and would seem to indicate a transcendence of their experience. And In our own day, the specimens that are still active are no less scientifically inexplicable than they were centuries ago, even amidst intense scientific investigation.

The best known and most intensely studied is the yearly blood miracle of St. Januarius (St. Gennaro) that occurs is Naples each year. The recurring miracle of the liquefaction of his blood 18 times a year is often reported in the secular as well as the religious press, and is the occasion of great gatherings in the Cathedral of Naples. Here the people pray fervently while the resident cardinal, who usually presides over the ceremony, holds the vials of blood. The miracle occurs when the bust reliquary containing the head of the saint is brought near. When the liquefaction is accomplished in full view of the spectators, the cardinal announces, "The miracle has happened," words that cause great rejoicing and the chanting of the Te Deum.

The saint's history begins with the Roman Emperor Diocletian whose persecution during the dawning years of the fourth century made martyrs of innumerable Christians. Among his victims was counted St. [Januarius, who was serving as bishop of Benevento. The imprisonment of the bishop occurred in A.D. 305 when he journeyed to Pozzuoli to offer encouragement to Sossius, a deacon who had been imprisoned. The bishop was soon arrested together with several ministers who had labored beside the saint in the service of the Church. After their decapitation the bodies were removed to various cities. St. Januarius’ body was taken to Benevento, then to Monte Vergine and lastly to Naples where it was entombed in the main church of the city, with two vials of his blood that had been collected by devout followers. Around this tomb the great ca¬thedral was constructed. Here Januarius was honorably remembered by the faithful of the city.

In the 14th century there occurred a phenomenon that was to attract curiosity throughout the centuries until even today the happenings pro¬voke worldwide interest:
The year was 1389. A procession was making its way about the ca¬thedral when the priest holding the flasks containing the saint's coagulated blood noticed that the contents began to liquefy and bubble. Since then the blood has repeated this phenomenon 18 times each year: on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight days fol¬lowing; on the feast of the saint, September 19, and during the octave, and on December 16.

In more recent years the liquefacations and viewings have taken place three times a year: on September 19, the feastday of the Saint; on December 16, which is the anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631; and on the first Sunday in May, which commemorates the translation of the relics to Naples. The blood has failed to liquefy several times, each time coinciding with the outbreak of disease, famine, war or political suppression. It is for this reason that Neapolitans rejoice at each liquefaction.

There are actually four divisions of the saint's relics. The bones are kept separately while the head is enclosed in a magnificent silver bust that is enshrined a distance from the relics of blood. The liquefaction takes place when the vials are brought in close proximity to the silver bust containing the head. The blood is kept in two vials. The smaller contains only a trace of blood, but the larger measures four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter and is usually a little more than half filled with coagulated blood that appears as a hard dark mass. The flasks are hermetically sealed and are solidly fixed side by side within a ring of silver and crystal sides that has a stick-like handle at the bottom. The crystals on either side of the ring protect the vials and permit their viewing. This is kept in the main altar of the Chapel of the treasury in the Cathedral of Naples.

On the feast days of the saint the silver bust that contains the head is exposed upon the altar or taken in procession. Prayers are recited while the priest or cardinal holds the reliquary of blood by its handle in full view of the assembly while making certain that the glass is not touched. .After an interval of a few minutes or perhaps even an hour, the mass is seen to gradually detach itself from the walls of the flasks and to liquefy, frequently bubbling and frothing. The vials are then brought to the faithful for their veneration. The cathedral is always filled to capacity when the resident car¬dinal or a priest holds the reliquary for all to see, being careful not to touch the crystal sides. The cardinal then announces, "The miracle has happened," words that cause great joy and the chanting of the 'Te Deum'.

When the liquefacations occur, these dreaded occurrences are not expected to take place, and this gives vent to great rejoicing and notices in many secular presses throughout the world. In the evening the reliquary is put into a silver case and placed inside the altar where the next day the blood might be found coagulated or it may be found in a liquid state and might retain so for days or months.

Every possible argument has been presented by skeptics, but all have been dismissed in view of the contrary reactions of the blood whose liquefaction occurs under the most diverse circumstances and physical conditions, The phenomenon has no need of special conditions to verify itself. For example, the liquefacation's occur at different temperatures as indicated by the records kept for more than a century, and by the studies of Professors Pergola, Punzo and Sperindeo who concluded that there is o direct relation between the temperature and the time and manner of liquefaction. The blood may liquefy at temperatures of 77 degrees or higher with the phenomenon taking as much as 20 to 40 minutes, while smaller amount of time may be required when the temperature is 15 or o degrees or less.

Those reluctant to admit the supernatural quality of the happening have argued that the press of the spectators, the lights and candles on the altar or the warmth of the priest's hands have helped in producing re heat that encourages liquefaction. Since the miracle occurs several times each year in various seasons, and since the blood is protected by NO layers of glass and since there is no constant point at which the liquefaction takes place, the miracle is contrary to every physical law that exists regarding the temperature needed to liquefy a substance. Likewise there have been occasions when the blood has failed to liquefy under app¬arently ideal circumstances. The theory of heat or the lack of it affords o adequate explanation of the phenomenon observed.

After the liquefaction the blood frequently presents a variation in volume since at times it decreased while at other times it almost doubles s size, nor does it necessarily return to its original volume. Sometimes the coagulated blood occupies half the vial while at other times it occupies almost the entire space.
A truly mystifying condition exists with regard to its weight. In experiments conducted in 1902 and 1904 the reliquary was weighed in a delicate balance. It was discovered that its weight was no more constant than its bulk, that is, its weight might increase as much as 25 grams, thereby defying physical laws. The strangest element is that there is often an increase in weight when the mass actually decreases, and a decrease in weight when the volume increases - this in direct opposition to the laws that dictate an increase in weight with a corresponding increase in mass.

The color of the coagulated blood changes from dark rouge, almost black, to a bright vermillion that appears opaque when held to a light. Its viscosity changes as well. Sometimes the mass is almost gummy, at other times fluid, and it is independent of any movement that occurs to the reliquary.

At other times the blood does not entirely liquefy and maintains a hard globule in the middle of the liquefied part, this condition lasting a day, weeks or sometimes months with no explanation being formulated by scientists for this behavior.
The impossibility of a natural explanation increases by the fact that the substance contained in the vials is true blood. This has been confirmed by the constant tradition and by the documents that are im¬possible to refute. It is likewise confirmed by scientific research, especially that of 1902 when Professor Sperindeo was permitted to pass spec¬troscopic beams of light through the liquefied material. This test yielded the distinctive lines of the spectrum of blood with definite characteristics of hemoglobin.

Some of the truly remarkable conditions that scientists could not explain was why the blood sometimes forms tiny bubbles that rise to the surface and collect into a foam, nor why, when it bubbles, it becomes a crimson color while at other times the color of the liquefied material is dull and its movements sluggish.
Skeptical scientists from time to time have attempted to reproduce a liquid with similar characteristics by the mixture of various chemicals, but they have consistently failed to produce something that not only changes from a solid to a liquid form, but also changes its weight, volume and color.

Unable to disqualify the miracle with arguments of a scientific nature, some have grasped elsewhere, even offering the improbable explanation that the blood is affected by some form of psychic force, that concentration and will of the expectant crowd are held responsible producing the physical action that their minds and wills demands is dismissed since the liquefaction has often happened unexpected and in the presence of only a few spectators.

While scientists have been unable to explain how the phenomenon can be accounted for, the mysterious liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius that has occurred for almost 600 years remains a challenge to the skeptic, a mystery to the scientific, and a truly inspiring miracle to the believer.

On the St Januarius' feast day in 2011 (September 19), the blood again liquefied, but this time before the phial was even removed from the reliquary safe where it is kept. After the usual Mass in honor of Saint Januarius on his feastday, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples removed the phial of the saint’s blood from the safe, and to his surprise he discovered that the blood had already liquefied, and he immediately announced to the congregation “Saint Januarius has listened to our prayers,” which drew a sustained applause from the crowd gathered in the cathedral.

For those interested, there is an excellent brief eyewitness account from Father Alexander Lucie-Smith entitled "The day I saw a Saints blood become liquid". On that day back in 2001 Father Alexander relates how the blood prodigy only occurred after much praying from the assembled congregation, and how the change was almost instantaneous.

Blood of St Januarius liquefies during visit of Pope Francis on March 22,2015  (photo AP- Andrew Medichini)
***Update: On Saturday, March 21, 2015, during a visit of Pope Francis to the Cathederal of Naples, the blood of St Januarius liquefied after the Pope venerated and kissed the relic. The last time the blood of St Januarius liquefied in the presence of a Pope was back in 1848 with Pope Pius IX. The miraculous blood liquefacation occurred at the end of the meeting with priests, religious and seminarians in the cathedral of Naples. During this time, the Pope kissed and venerated the relic, and then the Pope gave a blessing with the relic to all those present . When Crescenzio Sepe, the Cardinal of the Diocese,  initially gave the relic to the Pope, the blood was still solid on one side of the vial, however when Pope Francis returned the reliquary, the cardinal looked at the relic and then announced: “It seems that St. Januarius loves the Pope, because the blood is already half liquefied.” 

To downplay the event, the Pope Francis quipped: "The bishop just announced that the blood half-liquefied. We can see the saint only half loves us. If only half of it liquefied that means we still have work to do; we have to do better. We must all spread the Word, so that he loves us more!" 

Soon afterwards however it was noted that all of the blood had liquefied completely, as testified here by "Vatican Insider" news. The liquefacation occurred during Pope Francis' one day pilgrimage to Naples, during which time he visited the poor of the city and also a prison. He was met by tens of thousands in the city of Naples who came out in great numbers to see him. When the pontiff arrived in the poor, crime-ridden Scampia area of the city in the "pope-mobile", he immediately plunged into a crowd of young people, two of whom cheerfully managed to even pose for a "selfie" with the smiling pontiff. 

To this writer this most recent event may very well be a sign of God's favor with this current Pope. May Jesus bless His holy Catholic Church and also our Holy Father, Pope Francis!

***Update December 16, 2016: For the first time in over 36 years the blood of St Januarius did not liquefy on Friday (Dec 16, 2016). As stated earlier in this article, when on rare occasions where the blood fails to liquefy, this has historically been the harbinger of impending calamities. Time will tell whether this is the case on this occasion, or not. The blood liquefies three specific dates per year, and the last time the miracle did not occur was in 1980. Many associated this to the subsequent earthquake of Irpinia, Italy when 2,900 people died in the worst natural disaster in Italian post-war history.
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