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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

2012

Vatican City, 19 September 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience today to a review of his recent apostolic trip to Lebanon. "It was", he said, "a journey I was very keen to make despite the difficult circumstances, because a father must always remain alongside his children when they face serious problems. I was moved by the desire to announce the peace which the risen Lord left to His disciples in the words: 'My peace I give to you'".
"It was a poignant ecclesial event and, at the same time, an opportunity for dialogue in a country which is complex but emblematic for the region, thanks to the tradition of cohabitation and diligent collaboration between its various religious and social components. In the face of the suffering and drama which persist in that area of the Middle East, I expressed my heartfelt participation in the legitimate aspirations of those dear peoples, bringing them a message of encouragement and peace. I think in particular of the terrible conflict which is ravaging Syria and which causes, apart from thousands of deaths, a flow of refugees who move around the region desperately seeking security and a future. Nor do I forget the difficult situation in Iraq. During my visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East (Catholics, representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities and the various Muslim communities), in a serene and constructive atmosphere, were able to enjoy an important experience of mutual respect, understanding and fraternity, which constitutes a powerful sign of hope for all humankind. Yet it was above all the meeting with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East, who were present in their thousands, that aroused a feeling of profound gratitude in my heart for the ardour of their faith and witness".
"I was able to see directly how the Lebanese Catholic communities, thanks to their two-thousand year presence and their hope-filled commitment, offer an important and highly appreciated contribution to the daily life of all the country’s inhabitants", the Pope said. He also expressed his thanks to the country's authorities for "their cordial welcome", a fine expression of "the famous Lebanese hospitality". And he went on: "The Muslims welcomed me with great respect and sincere consideration. Their constant affable presence gave me the opportunity to launch a message of dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam. I believe the time has come to bear sincere and definitive witness together against division, violence and war".
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the events of his apostolic trip, beginning with the signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" in the Greek-Melkite Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa. "On that occasion", he said, "I invited Middle Eastern Catholics to fix their gaze on the crucified Christ in order to find, even at times of difficulty and suffering, the strength to celebrate the victory of love over hatred, of forgiveness over revenge, of unity over division. I assured everyone that the universal Church is closer than ever ... to the Churches in the Middle East. Despite being a 'little flock', they must not fear, in the certainty that the Lord is always with them".
During the meeting with representatives of State institutions and the world of culture, the diplomatic corps and religious leaders, "I indicated", the Pope recalled, "the path to follow to ensure a future of peace and solidarity. This involves working to ensure that cultural, social and religious differences are resolved in sincere dialogue: a new fraternity where what unites us is a shared sense of the greatness and dignity of each person, whose life must always be safeguarded and protected. On that same day", he went on, "I met with the heads of Muslim communities, an event which took place in a spirit of dialogue and mutual benevolence. I thank God for that meeting, The world today needs clear unequivocal signs of dialogue and collaboration, something of which Lebanon has been and must continue to be an example, for the Arab States and for the rest of the world".
Benedict XVI then mentioned the "irrepressible enthusiasm of the thousands of young people from Lebanon and neighbouring countries", who greeted him at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch. "I emphasised their good fortune to live in that part of the world where Jesus was crucified and rose for our salvation, and where Christianity developed, exhorting them to fidelity and love for their land, despite the difficulties caused by lack of stability and security. ... Seeing young Christians and Muslims celebrate in great harmony, I encouraged them to build the future of Lebanon and the Middle East together, and to oppose violence and war. Harmony and reconciliation must be stronger than the forces of death".
During Sunday Mass at the City Centre Waterfront in Beirut, the Pope had encouraged everyone "to live and bear witness to their faith without fear, knowing that the vocation of Christians and of the Church is to bring the Gospel to all without distinction, following the example of Jesus. In a context marked by bitter conflicts, I drew attention to the need to serve peace and justice by becoming instruments of reconciliation and builders of communion. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I had the joy of consigning the Apostolic Exhortation which brings together the conclusions of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. ... This document reaches out to all the faithful of that dear region, to support them in their faith and communion, and to encourage them on the path of the ... new evangelisation. In the afternoon, at the headquarters of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, I then had the joy of a fraternal ecumenical meeting with the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, as well as representatives of those Churches and of other ecclesial communities".
"The days spent in Lebanon", the Pope concluded, "were a wonderful manifestation of faith and religious feeling and a prophetic sign of peace. The multitude of believers from the entire Middle East had the opportunity to reflect, to talk and especially to pray together, renewing their commitment to root their lives in Christ. I am sure that the people of Lebanon, in its varied but well blended religious and social make-up, will know how to witness with renewed impetus to the true peace that comes from faith in God. I hope that the messages of peace and respect that I sought to give, will help the governments of the region to take decisive steps towards peace and a better understanding of the relationship between Christians and Muslims. For my part, I continue to accompany those beloved people in prayer, that they may remain faithful to their commitments".
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 19 September 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:
- Bishop Pedro Luiz Stinghini of Franca, Brazil, as bishop of Mogi des Cruces (area 2,521, population 1,546,000, Catholics 1,145,000, priests 80, permanent deacons 8, religious 219), Brazil.
- Bishop Flavio Giovenale S.D.B. of Abaetetuba, Brazil as bishop of Santarem (area 171,906, population 422,767, Catholics 311,679, priests 46, permanent deacons 2, religious 80), Brazil.

AMERICA : CANADA : BISHOPS SUPPORT LIFE - WOODWORTH MOTION


CCCB REPORT: Later this month, on September 21, Members of Parliament will continue debate on Motion 312, proposed by Mr. Stephen Woodworth, MP. A few days later, on September 26, they are scheduled to vote on the motion. It calls for the House of Commons to form a special committee which would review a statement in the Criminal Code of Canada that “a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.” Article 223 (1) of the Code reads: “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” The official and complete text of Motion 312 is found on the website of the Parliament of Canada at http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&DocId=5437818.
The Catholic Church holds that a human being comes into existence at conception. The lives of human beings are, therefore, sacred at every stage in our existence -- from beginning to natural end. “Blessed is the fruit of your womb,” the Gospel of Luke says in reference to Mary, who was pregnant with child, Our Lord.
As the House of Commons prepares to debate Motion 312, the Bishops of Canada invite all members of the Parliament of Canada to take into full account the sacredness of the unborn child and each human life. We also encourage Canadian Catholics, and all people of good will, to pray that our legislators be blessed with wisdom and courage to do what is best to protect and further the common good, which is based on respect for the human dignity of all.
+Richard SmithArchbishop of EdmontonPresident
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 18, 2012

AUSTRALIA : MARRIAGE BILL DEFEATED 98 - 42

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
19 Sep 2012


Marriage in Australia Means a Union Between a Man and a Woman
A private bill to legalise same-sex marriages received a crushing defeat in the House of Representatives this afternoon with just 42 votes in favour and a resounding 98 against.
The bill was brought by Labor backbencher, Stephen Jones.
"The overwhelming vote in the House of Representatives in favour of marriage between a man and a woman is greatly welcomed," says Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Marriage and Family Centre. "It is also a vote affirming the truth of how marriage has always been understood."
Describing the issue as divisive and one "which has found people of good will, both homosexual and heterosexual, on both sides of the debate," Mr Meney says it is important for "us to now move on as a community."

"Given the broad consultation over a significant period and the number of bills which have been introduced on this issue it is to be hoped our elected representatives will now be free to devote the necessary time to other issues which are of importance to all Australians," he says.
Premier of Tasmania Lara Giddings wants to legalise same sex marriage in the islabnd state
The bill known as the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012 was first introduced to the parliament on the eve of St Valentine's Day this year. It presented amendments to be made to the 1961 Marriage Act to enable same-sex marriage to be recognised.
The same day, Greens MP Adam Bandt and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie joined forces and introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012, which asked Parliament to approve amendments to the Marriage Act "to remove discriminatory references based on sexual orientation and gender identity and allow marriage regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity."

Now seven months later, Parliament has voted down the first bill with most expecting the second one to suffer the same fate.
The coalition did not allow a conscience on the bill, voting as a block.
Despite allowing Labor MPs a conscience vote on the issue, Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to vote in favour of legalisation same sex marriage. Her front bench was also split on the vote with Deputy PM, Wayne Swan and Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen also voting down the bill.
Chris Meney, Director of Life, Marriage and Family Centre
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also changed his mind and voted against the bill.

But despite backbencher Stephen Jones bill being defeated, many of the Gillard Government Cabinet voted in favour of same sex marriage including Attorney General Nicola Roxon; Leader of the House Anthony Albanese; Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Schools Minister Peter Garrett, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten; Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek; Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jenny Macklin; Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare Kate Ellis and Minister of Finance Penny Wong.
Minister Wong, whose same-sex partner gave birth to a baby girl in December last year, has vowed to fight on.
Tony Windsor was the only independent MP in the Lower House to voted against the bill with Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie both voting for it.
Of 21.5 million Australians less than 34,000 identify as defacto same sex couples
Despite the defeat of the Stephen Jones' bill, this week's lower and upper house debates on same sex marriage have not been without their casualties.
Earlier today South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi was forced to resign as Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott's Personal Parliamentary Secretary after he claimed that permitting same sex marriage could lead to demands for the legalisation of polygamy and bestiality.

But according to Francine Pirola, a member of the Australian Marriage and Family Council the overall damage from the ongoing debates over same sex marriage and the many bills brought before federal and state parliaments, has been wide-reaching effect and has undermined marriage itself.
MP Stephen Jones introduced one three bills before Parliament to legalise same sex marriage
"People's confidence in what they understood marriage to be has been undermined for many years by t his debates as well as by the increasingly high levels of divorce," she says. "They are no longer sure what marriage is and are increasingly confused and uncertain about what constitutes a marriage."
The increasing numbers of same sex couples adopting or raising children of their own adds to the confusion.
"The messages people are hearing today is that marriage may be for life, or it might not be. They are also hearing that marriage can be for the procreation of children but that this is not mandatory or even important."
While the crushing defeat of Federal Parliament's bills to alter the Marriage Act may see a respite of several years before the issue is revisited, this is not the case with the states.
Tasmania's Labor Government has already flagged it intends to legalise same sex marriage within the next few months. The same thing may also happen in NSW with Premier Barry O'Farrell announcing earlier today that he intends to allow a conscience vote for Liberal MPs on a bill to permit same sex marriage which will be introduced within a few months by a group of Greens, Liberal, Nationals and Labor MPs.

SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY

AMERICA : PARAGUAY : BISHOPS CALL FOR BETTER DEMOCRACY

Agenzia Fides report - The Bishops of Paraguay, after meeting yesterday, 18 September, to assess the situation of the country in all its aspects, expressed in writing concerns and wishes that they delivered, also yesterday, to the representatives of the government during their visit. According to the note of the Episcopal Conference of Paraguay, sent to Fides Agency, the Bishops ask the authorities 'renewed commitment to the faithful duty of their constitutional role, in order to build a fairer society and a better quality of democracy."
The document also contains reflections and analysis of the national situation developed in the last Extraordinary General Meeting of Bishops (num. 195 of August 28, 2012), following the political events of last June (see Fides 23/06/2012), which showed a change in the conduct of the government. "Paraguay is going through a difficult time - the statement says- for someone the country is going through a difficult time, for others, those who look at the future with hope, it is time to ask the leaders of the country prudence, balance, a great sense of responsibility and specific actions to solve the most urgent problems of the population. "The text expresses the willingness of the Church to establish dialogue where there is still no agreement to establish the good of society. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 19/09/2012)

ASIA : MYANMAR : 89 POLITICAL PRISONERS FREED

UCAN REPORT:
Amnesty ahead of Suu Kyi's arrival in USA
Catholic Church News Image of At least 89 political prisoners freed
Aung San Suu Kyi was due to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later today
Myanmar released at least 89 political prisoners yesterday evening just hours before opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi started a landmark tour of the US.
Broadcast on state television, yesterday’s announcement said President Thein Sein had granted an amnesty to 514 prisoners on “humanitarian” grounds – most of them reportedly foreigners – ahead of a state visit to China starting today.
Thein Sein will follow Suu Kyi to the US later this month where he is due to speak to the UN General Assembly as part of a trip tipped to include further concessions for his reformist government, possibly the easing of a US ban on Myanmar imports.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland declined to tell a daily press briefing in Washington DC yesterday whether the US would further ease sanctions on Myanmar in the coming weeks as it waited to confirm who had been released from prisons across the country.
“We will continue to work closely with the Burmese to verify exactly who we’re talking about,” she said.
US sanctions specifically refer to the release of political prisoners as a precondition for their removal.
With the names of those released still being updated today, Bo Bo Oo of the Former Political Prisoners Network said 89 had been counted by early afternoon.
“But we are still expecting the release of more political prisoners today,” he said.
Among the most prominent detainees freed yesterday was Laphai Zaw Sai, a Kachin rebel commando who assassinated the Myanmar Army regional commander in the north of the country in 1985. He had been detained ever since.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma,) based on the Thai-Myanmar border in Mae Sot also named Shwe Htoo, a former teacher who had served more than 14 years of a 42-year sentence on treason charges, among those freed.
“We are happy that my father is now actually released,” said his son, Shwe Thwe. “But we are sorry for those political prisoners who are still in jail.”
Estimates of just how many prisoners of conscience still remain behind bars in Myanmar is unclear, with estimates ranging from as low as about 160 following yesterday’s amnesty up to as many as 600 or more.
The US and other foreign governments have worked behind the scenes with Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to push the government to establish a transparent process to identify and release remaining political detainees. Meanwhile, Thein Sein has issued a series of amnesties since taking office in March last year.
“The problem is there is a lack of transparency from the Burma government about who is a political prisoner, where they are, and how many are left,” Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Tun Myint Aung, a member of the 88 Generation Students group which includes a number of previous political detainees, said concerns remained regarding sporadic new arrests in ethnic areas such as Kachin state where fighting has continued despite ceasefires in other areas.
“If the government is willing to build a democratic society, there should be no more ethnic and political conflict,” he said.
SHARED FROM UCAN

AFRICA : KENYA : RELIGIOUS LEADERS AGAINST FORCED STERILIZATION

CISA NEWS REPORT:
Anglican-Archbishop-Benjamin-Nzimbi
NAIROBI, September 18, 2012 (CISA) -Forced contraceptive sterilization of women living with HIV which occurred recently in the country, according to reports, is an unacceptable infringement on the woman’s rights which hurts the gains in the efforts to turn the tide against the epidemic, senior Kenyan faith leaders are warning.
The leaders speaking through the Kenya Network for Religious Leaders living with or affected by HIV and AIDS (KENERELA+) say forced permanent sterilization in form of bilateral Tubal Ligation is illegal, deplorable and a “mis-action”, since it furthers stigma, one of the greatest impediment in anti-HIV efforts. Those responsible must be called to account, demands the faith leaders.
“It is a pity that at a time when there is great scientific advancement in human reproduction, someone can go ahead and sterilizes a woman because she is HIV positive,” says Retired Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya.
“With the understanding that Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) can now give birth to children who are free of the virus, any attempt to bar a woman from having children through forced sterilization amounts to violation of their rights,” adds Nzimbi.
Kenya’s new constitution endorsed in August 2010 forbids forced contraceptive sterilization, notes the faith leaders. In the Bill of Rights, it explicitly assures Kenyans of the right to Reproductive health. Article 43 (1a, b) states: “Every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care ….”
“This is dehumanizing and a violation of the women’s rights. Every human being has a right to bring up a family irrespective of their statuses. Therefore any attempt to secretly or forcefully sterilize a person is illegal and ungodly,” says Bishop Patrick Mungai of the Gospel Evangelistic Churches of Kenya (GECK).
The HIV positive women, majority from poor rural villages and urban settlements have been coerced to accepting the procedure by health workers. It is sad that some of the operations were carried out mainly during emergency cesarean operations, the leaders note. It is further disheartening that reports say consent for the operations were required as a pre-condition for free or reduced price of medical treatment or food and medical aid for their children, especially milk and anti-retroviral medication, the leaders say.
“We the Muslim clerics condemn in the highest manner the way these mothers’ rights have been infringed without even them being involved in the decision making process,” says Sheikh Abdullatif Abdulkarim the Coordinator of the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa (KCIU).
Abdulkarim says discrimination for any reason including being HIV positive so as to take away their God given right of conceiving and bearing children is unacceptable.
“There are so many options including performing caesarian operation for HIV positive mothers, such that they can bear HIV negative children with minimum health hazards,” he says.
Professor Mohammed Karama, an epidemiologist at KEMRI and Board Member of KENERELA+ observes that Child birth is a right for every human being and should be supported by all for procreation and continuity of the human race.
SHARED FROM CISA NEWS

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : WED. SEPT. 19, 2012

Luke 7: 31 - 35
31 "To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?
32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.'
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, `He has a demon.'
34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children."


TODAY'S SAINT: SEPT. 19: ST. JANUARIUS : D. 305

St. Januarius
BISHOP AND MARTYR
Feast: September 19
Information:
Feast Day:
September 19
Born:
275, Benevento or Naples, Campania, Roman Empire
Died:
305, Pozzuoli, Campania
Major Shrine:
Cathedral of San Gennaro, Naples, Italy
Patron of:
blood banks; Naples; volcanic eruptions

St. Januarius is believed to have suffered in the persecution of Diocletian, c. 305. With regard to the history of his life and martyrdom, we know next to nothing. The various collections of "Acts", though numerous (cf. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, n. 4115-4140), are all extremely late and untrustworthy. Bede (c. 733) in his "Martyrologium" has epitomized the so-called "Acta Bononiensia" (see Quentin, "Les Martyrologes historiques", 76). To this source we may trace the following entry in the present Roman Martyrology, though the reference to the miracle of the liquefaction is an addition of much later date. "At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh."
In the Breviary a longer account is given. There we are told that "Timotheus, President of Campania," was the official who condemned the martyrs, that Januarius was thrown into a fiery furnace, but that the flames would not touch him, and that the saint and his companions were afterwards exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts without any effect. Timotheus declaring that this was due to magic, and ordering the martyrs to be beheaded, the persecutor was smitten with blindness, but Januarius cured him, and five thousand persons were converted to Christ before the martyrs were decapitated. Then, as the Breviary lesson continues, "the cities of these coasts strove to obtain their bodies for honourable burial, so as to make sure of having them advocates with God. By God's will, the relics of Januarius were taken to Naples at last, after having been carried from Pozzuoli to Beneventum and from Beneventum to Monte Vergine. When they were brought thence to Naples they were laid in the chief church there and have been there famous on account of many miracles. Among these is remarkable the stopping of eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, whereby both that neighbourhood and places afar off have been like to be destroyed. It is also well known and is the plain fact, seen even unto this day, that when the blood ofSt. Januarius, kept dried up in a small glass phial, is put in sight of the head of the same martyr, it is wont to melt and bubble in a very strange way, as though it had but freshly been shed."
It is especially this miracle of the liquefaction which has given celebrity to the name of Januarius, and to this we turn our attention. Let it at once be said that the supposition of any trick or deliberate imposture is out of the question, as candid opponents are now willing to admit. For more than four hundred years this liquefaction has taken place at frequent intervals. If it were a trick it would be necessary to admit that all the archbishops of Naples, and that countless ecclesiastics eminent for their learning and often for their great sanctity, were accomplices in the fraud, as also a number of secular officials; for the relic is so guarded that its exposition requires the concurrence of both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Further, in all these four hundred years, no one of the many who, upon the supposition of such a trick, must necessarily have been in the secret, has made any revelation or disclosed how the apparent miracle is worked. Strong indirect testimony to this truth is borne by the fact that even at the present time the rationalistic opponents of a supernatural explanation are entirely disagreed as to how the phenomenon is to be accounted for.
What actually takes place may be thus briefly described: in a silver reliquary, which in form and size somewhat suggests a small carriage lamp, two phials are enclosed. The lesser of these contains only traces of blood and need not concern us here. The larger, which is a little flagon-shaped flask four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter, is normally rather more than half full of a dark and solid mass, absolutely opaque when held up to the light, and showing nodisplacment when the reliquary is turned upside down. Both flasks seem to be so fixed in the lantern cavity of the reliquary by means of some hard gummy substance that they are hermetically sealed. Moreover, owing to the fact that the dark mass in the flask is protected by two thicknesses of glass it is presumably but little affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. Eighteen times in each year, i.e. (1) on theSaturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight following days, (2) on the feast of St. Januarius (19 Sept.) and during the octave, and (3) on 16 December, a silver bust believed to contain the head of St. Januarius is exposed upon the altar, and the reliquary just described is brought out and held by the officiant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place, while a group of poor women, known as the "zie di San Gennaro" (aunts of St. Januarius), make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.
The officiant usually holds the reliquary by its extremities, without touching the glass, and from time to time turns it upside down to note whether any movement is perceptible in the dark mass enclosed in the phial. After an interval of varying duration, usually not less than two minutes or more than an hour, the mass is gradually seen todetach itself from the sides of the phial, to become liquid and of a more or less ruby tint, and in some instances to froth and bubble up, increasing in volume. The officiant then announces, "Ilmiracolo é fatto", a Te Deum is sung, and the reliquary containing the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the containing vessel. Rarely has the liquefaction failed to take place in the expositions of May or September, but in that of 16 December the mass remains solid more frequently than not.
It is of course natural that those who are reluctant to admit the supernatural character of the phenomenon should regard the liquefaction as simply due to the effects of heat. There are, they urge, certain substances (e.g. a mixture of spermaceti and ether) which have a very low boiling point. The heat produced by the hands of the officiant, the pressing throng of spectators, thelights on the altar, and in particular the candle formerly held close to the reliquary to enable the people to see that the mass is opaque, combine to raise the temperature of the air sufficiently to melt the substance in the phial--a substance which is assumed to be blood, but which no one has ever analysed. Further, ever since the early years of the eighteenth century, sceptical scientists, by using certain chemical preparations, have reconstructed the miracle with more or less of success; that is to say, they have been able to exhibit some red substance which, though at first apparently solid, melted after an interval without any direct application of heat. None the less, it may be said withabsolute confidence that the theory of heat affords no adequate explanation of the phenomena observed.
For more than a century careful observations of the temperature of the air in the neighbourhood of the relic have been made on these occasions and the records have been kept. It is certain from the scientific memoirs of Professors Fergola, Punzo, and Sperindeo that there is no direct relation between the temperature, and the time and manner of the liquefaction. Often when the thermometer has stood at 77° Fahrenheit or even higher, liquefaction has been delayed for as much as twenty or even forty minutes, while on the other hand the contents of the phial have sometimesliquefied in considerably less time than this when the thermometer remained as low as 60 or 65 degrees. Moreover, the heat theory by no means accounts for another more remarkable fact observed for quite two hundred years past. The mass in melting commonly increased in volume, but when itsolidifies again it does not necessarily return to its original bulk. Sometimes the whole phial is seen to be occupied, at other times hardly more than half. This has led a Neapolitan scientist of modern times, Professor Albini, to suggest a new physical theory derived from observing the behaviour of a viscous fluid such as partly congealed honey. He conjectures that the unknown substance in the phial consists of some highly divided solid matter which is partly held in suspension by a disproportionately small quantity of liquid. When at rest, the liquid sinks to the bottom of the phial, while the solid particles form a sort of crust not easily displaced when the vessel is turned upside down. This cohesion is however overcome by repeated movements, such as those that the reliquary experiences when the moment of liquefaction is impatiently waited for. Further, such a viscous fluid easily cakes upon the walls of the containing vessel, and admits large air bubbles which cause the deceptive appearance of a change of volume.
Professor Albini claims to have reproduced all the phenomena with a compound made of powdered chocolate and the serum of milk. On the other hand, those who have studied closely the process of liquefaction of the contents of the phial declare that such an explanation is absolutely impossible. Moreover, there seem to bewell-attested instances of liquefaction taking place both in the case of this and other similar relics of blood, when the reliquary has been standing by itself without any movement whatsoever.
Accordingly, the suggestion has also been made (see Di Pace, "Ipotesi scientifica sulla Liquefazione", etc., Naples, 1905) that the phenomenon is due to some form of psychic force. The concentration of thought and will of the expectant crowd and specially of the "aunts of St. Januarius" are held to be capable of producing a physical effect. Against this, however, must be set the fact that the liquefaction has sometimes taken place quite unexpectedly and in the presence of very few spectators.
Probably the most serious difficulty against the miraculous character of the phenomenon is derived from the circumstance that the same liquefaction takes place in the case of other relics, nearly all preserved in the neighbourhood of Naples, or of Neapolitan origin. These include relics which are affirmed to be the blood of St. John the Baptist, of St. Stephen the first martyr, of St. Pantaleone, of St. Patricia, of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and others. In the case of the alleged liquefaction of the so-called "Milk of Our Lady" (see Putignani, S.J., "De Redivivi Sanguine S. Januarii", Naples, 1723, I, 90) or of the fat of St. Thomas Aquinas (see Magnoni Valenti, "Discorso istorico" 1772, 47) we have probably a pure fiction, but the phials traditionally associated with the names of St. John the Baptist, St. Stephen, and St. Pantaleone undoubtedly still exhibit on the respective feast days of these saints phenomena exactly analogous to those shown in the case of the more famous relic of St. Januarius. Further, it is asserted by eyewitnesses of scientific credit and high respectability that a block of basalt at Pozzuoli, reputed to bear traces of the blood of St. Januarius, grows vividly red for a short time in May and September at the hour when the miracle of the liquefaction takes place in Naples (se Cavène, "Célèbre Miracle de S. Janvier", 1909, 277-300).
Three other points attested by recent investigators seem worthy of special note.
* It now appears that the first certain record of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius dates from 1389 (see de Blasiis, "Chronicon Siculum incerti auctoris", Naples, 1887, 85), and not from 1456, as formerly supposed.* In 1902 Professor Sperindeo was allowed to pass a ray of light through the upper part of the phial during liquefaction and examine this beam spectroscopically. The experiment yielded the distinctive lines of the spectrum of blood. This, however, only proves that there are at any rate traces of blood in the contents of the phial (see Cavène, "Le Célèbre Miracle", 262-275).* Most remarkable of all, the apparent variation in the volume of the relic led in 1902 and 1904 to a series of experiments in the course of which the whole reliquary was weighed in a very accurate balance. It was found that the weight was not constant any more than the volume, and that the weight of the reliquary when the blood filled the whole cavity of the phial exceeded, by 26 grammes, the weight when the phial seemed but half full. This very large difference renders it impossible tobelieve that such a substantial variation in weight can be merely due to an error of observation.
We are forced to accept the fact that, contrary to all known laws a change goes on in the contents of this hermetically sealed vessel which makes them heavier and lighter in a ratio roughly, but not exactly, proportional to their apparent bulk (Cavène, 333-39). The reality of the miracle of St. Januarius has repeatedly been made the subject of controversy. It has had much to do with many conversions to Catholicism, notably with that of the elder Herder. Unfortunately, however, allegations have often been made as to the favourable verdict expressed by scientific men of note, which are not always verifiable. The supposed testimony of the great chemist, Sir Humphry Davy, who is declared to have expressed his belief in the genuineness of the miracle, seems to be a case in point.





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