Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lips off the Blood

Twice a year, the blood of St. Gennaro which is kept in a glass phial in Naples, Italy is said to miraculously liquefy. As far as miracles go, this seems pretty underwhelming, especially since it probably wouldn't take much more miracle magic to have the blood glow bright orange, fly out of the phial, and travel the countryside curing cancer. Still, it's impressive to a lot of Neopolitans, who look forward to the biannual festivals where the phial is brought out for public kissing. Only the local authorities have banned kissing the phial this month, fearing all that spit swapping might lead to a fatal case of swine flu. Italy had its first H1N1 fatality only recently, but no saint stepped in to stop it. That's a bad sign. Still, the locals are pissed. One politician says the ban will only contribute to swine flu hysteria, and others believe that if the blood isn't seen to liquefy, it'll be a bad omen for Naples. Scientists and other curmudgeons believe there's nothing miraculous about the liquefication of the blood, hypothesizing that moving the phial around causes the dry blood to get all moist due to a process called thixotropy. As compromise, the people of Naples will be allowed to touch the phial with their foreheads, since you'd have to be an idiot to think that could spread germs. More details here.

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