18 DECEMBER 1926, Page 18

THE BLOOD OF ST. JANUARIUS [To the Editor of the

SPECTATOR.] Sin,—There is a balanced account of this " miracle " by Father Thurston in the (Roman) Catholic Encyclopaedia. He admits that the saint, who died about 805 A.D., was not reported to have worked the miracle till a thousand years after his death—i.e., 1889 or 1456. He also admits the damaging circumstance that :--- " the same liquefaction takes place in the case of other relics nearly all preserved in the neighbourhood of Naples or of Neapolitan origm. . . . The phials traditionally associated with the names of S. John the Baptist, S. Stephen, and S. Pantaleone undoubtedly still exhibit on the respective feast-days of those saints phenomena exactly analogous.

Horace reports the same phenomenon as notorious in his day, and that taking place in the neighbourhood of another Naples (in Apulia)—viz., at Egnatia, where the water was bad [Bed) flamma-sine tura liqueacere 'Maine sacro Persuadere cupit. Credat JudaeuS Apella, Non ego ; namque dens didici securum agere aevum.

Hor., S. I. V. 99.

May there not be, as in the case of the pool at Bethesda (S. John v. 7) a special occult action due in part only to natural causes and creating a sacredness all its own ? As Virgil says of a spot in old Rome :—

Testaturyue locum et letum docet hospitis Argi. • ; Jam turn rdigio pavidos terrebat agrestes

Dira loci. Verg., A. viii. 346, 349.

The Rectory, Devizes.