Monday, September 19, 2005

San Gennaro

Today is the feast day of Saint Januarius, patron saint of Naples, Italy. In Italian, he's known as San Gennaro.

David Jaspers called me today, to wish me a "Happy St. Januarius Feast Day"...he has such a good memory. David was the first person I told of a miraculous healing in my life that happened when we were in Naples together with the Mt. Angel crew. And I completely attribute it to the intercession of this saint.

The story goes back a bit further. In 1997, I was in a huge hit-and-run accident on I-5 near Kelso, WA. It took several years to recover from back pain...until someone hit me in November 2001 and totalled my car, again. This time, the pain was much worse, and caused me to be unable to even sit up straight without tension and back in my back. And it didn't go away.

So that brings us to March 2003. Most of the churches in Europe have straight back pews. They are uber-uncomfortable to sit in, especially if you have a good deal of back pain. Having just arrived in Naples from Sicily, sleeping on a steamer ship, I was a little crabby when we finally reached the Duomo in the city, where the relics of St. Januarius are held. San Gennaro was a Catholic bishop. San Gennaro was beheaded in 305 by the Romans, and some of his blood was preserved. Now in a vial of dried blood, it is kept in the Duomo in Naples. And miraculously, it liquifies several times a May, on his feast day in September, and in December.

Back to my story. As we walked through the back of the church toward the altar, there were thousands of tiny sterling silver pieces framed on the walls - each one representing a different body part (like a leg or an arm). It turns out that each one of these pieces represented someone who was healed after they asked St. Januarius to pray for them.

So, a little grumpy and jealous of these other peeps who were healed, I told San Gennaro that if this was all real, that I had some back pain he could get rid of for me.

Then I forgot about my challenge.
A few days later, when we were in Rome, I sat back in the pew just after Mass and realized that I was sitting straight up. With no pain. And hadn't felt any since that Sunday morning in Naples. And I started crying. Thinking something was wrong, Mom reached out to me, and I explained what was going on. Fearing that discussing it would somehow "cause it to go away", I asked her to not say anything.

Little did I know, David was watching us, and knew something was up. When he asked me about it later, I shared the story of the healing of my back, and among his first words, "Alleluia! Praise the Lord! We have to share this news!!"
How little my faith was to think that it couldn't be healed. How little my faith was in thinking that something I did or didn't do would affect the healing power of our Lord. How unworthy I was of this miracle in my life. But how grateful I was, and how grateful I am.
And here's the link to the story from the Italian newswires...showing that again today, San Gennaro's blood has liquified.

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