A mural of San Gennaro in the Neapolitan district of Forcella, Source: Depositphotos

Naples celebrates its patron saint San Gennaro on 19 September

Naples celebrates its patron saint San Gennaro on 19 September

The main focus of the festivities is a ‘miracle’, which involves the liquefaction of the saint’s blood

19 September is the Fest of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. This day is thus considered the southern Italian city’s most important and traditional holiday as it has been commemorated for many centuries.

San Gennaro, or Saint Januarius, is a martyr who was executed on 19 September 305 during the persecution of early Christians undertaken by Roman Emperor Diocletian. As the story goes, the blood that gushed from his neck after the decapitation was collected by his wet nurse Eusebia and kept in a glass ampoule.

A miracle involving the saint’s blood was first recorded in the 14th century with a story that during the Assunta celebrations, the vial was put on display and that during the procession the blood melted “as if it gushed out of the body of the saint that very moment”.

Since then, the temporary liquefaction of the blood has become the much-expected recurring miracle that guarantees the well-being of the city and its populace.

In 1497, the body of the saint and the vials were moved to the crypt of the Naples Cathedral, where they are kept until today. The glass vial is brought out three times a year – on the first Saturday of May, on 19 September and on 16 December. The crowd prays and eagerly awaits the liquification of the blood.

Viva San Gennaro!

San Gennaro’s blood doesn’t always turn liquid, though, and that is considered a bad omen for Naples. Nevertheless, most of the time it does and then it is greeted with sighs of relief and joyful cries of “Viva San Gennaro!”.

As a protector of Naples, the saint’s relics are invoked in crisis, such as during two eruptions of the Vesuvius volcano, one in the 17th century and during the last one in 1944. The story goes that his heavenly aid helped end the natural calamities.

The festivities are also accompanied by the usual processions, parades, musical entertainment and food stalls.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU