Did I witness a miracle?: San Gennaro 19/09/2010
September 18th: my father, cameraman Mark Brewer, Italian fixer Lorella Muzi and I headed down to Naples to shoot a TV report on the miracle of San Gennaro (or Januarius), the city’s patron saint.
I’d only been to Naples once, on an excursion with school, and I’d never visited its historical centre. It was utter chaos; cars everywhere doing impossible things in tiny streets, boisterous Neapolitans shouting and beeping their horns at each other, but fortunately we had wisely decided to take the train. We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast’s supposed address but there was no sign of any kind of accommodation. After rudely calling and interrupting the manager’s dinner, he arrived and we were led into a courtyard, then up four or five flights of rickety stairs (carrying all our camera gear). We finally got to our rooms needing a long shower. We finished the evening with a typical Neapolitan seafood dinner, savouring the warm southern air.
Legend has it that around 300 A.D. Gennaro was the Bishop of Naples. During the one and a half year-long persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, Gennaro hid his fellow Christians to prevent them from being caught. Unfortunately he was finally arrested and condemned to death by being thrown to the wild bears in the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli. Allegedly the wild beasts refused to eat him, so instead he was beheaded. A woman named Eusebia saved some of his blood in a vial.
We went to Naples to witness the ‘miraculous’ liquefaction of San Gennaro’s blood that happens in Naples’ main cathedral every year.
Whenever the blood hasn’t liquefied terrible things have happened to Naples, such as World War II bombing and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1944, so we were already planning our escape route if things started to look sour. But fortunately our friend Genny saw fit to save us; his blood liquefied and I got to witness a miracle (not everyone can say that :-D).
But still I had my doubts about this whole miracle business, I mean really, does this guy look entirely trustworthy to you? But after our friend Monseigneur Hilary Franco, straight from the U.S.A., assured us that it was a genuine miracle, all my doubts completely faded (…just joking, sorry Monseigneur).
But miracle or no miracle we had a great time experiencing and filming the improbably ordered chaos of southern Italy.