Punch,  37 (1859), 149.

St Januarius at it Again





Miracle, Supernaturalism, Electricity, Telegraphy, Steam-power, Religious Authority, Superstition

    Discusses a report on the alleged 'miracle of St. Januarius': the rapid liquefaction, in Naples, of the blood of the saint. Surprised that 'more effective measures' are not taken to accomplish this more quickly and suggests that science 'would secure to a dead certainty the coveted result'. Explains how the 'miracle' could be 'done more rapidly by steam', 'new bellows', or a hot poker. Goes on to discuss the claim that when liquefaction takes place, the saint's blood appears on the stone (in Puzzoli) on which he was beheaded. Suggests that these simultaneous events might be accomplished by connecting Naples and Puzzoli by electricity. Considers that 'Science might materially assist' the faithful in raising the reputation of their saint. Concludes by noting that 'A belief in so-called "miracles" like those of Januarius is clearly incompatible with scientific knowledge' and that where the steam engine and electric telegraph are 'utterly undreamt of, their agencies might readily affect a so-thought "miracle", and deceive the eyesights blinded by the darkened superstitions [...] of the Romish Church'.

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