Feast of San Gennaro
Participating in the chaos down Mulberry street in Little Italy during the annual Feast of San Gennaro several times in my life, I wanted to know who this San Gennaro was. Knowing the 11 day street party was more then zeppoles, bricks of nougat and Italian pride iron-on t-shirts (and being mostly Italian and raised as a Roman Catholic myself), I learned that the San Gennaro is the Neapolitan martyr saint hot-topic.
There is little known of the life of Januarius but local Neapolitan tradition says he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes. Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.