1st Edition

The Natural History of a Neapolitan Miracle The Secret of Saint Gennaro’s Blood

    448 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How can the melting of a blood thickened by centuries be a miracle for some and not for others? This This book examines the efforts through the centuries of theologians, alchemists, charlatans and scientists to answer the question: Is it really a miracle?


    This book sheds light on the relationships between the natural and the supernatural, but also between life and death in different European cultures, as well as analysing the question of how can a natural history be made of what, for its own definition, oversteps the order of creation? Focusing on Naples, the author studies the liquefaction of the blood of Saint Gennaro and how in the Middle Ages, the blood of this Saint was intended to be as a simply unstable substance. The author reconstructs the events that have given to its special rhythm of liquefaction which makes them so. This book also seeks to anthropologically retrace the efforts of men and women of the past to conceptualize a protean phenomenon. The miracle of Saint Gennaro is utilised as a window through which to observe not only the history of Naples, but also and above all the evolution of mentalities of those who, even in lands very far from there, have over time questioned that periodical meeting. The book provides an outline for the history of the marvel and its epistemic function.


    This book will be of great value to those interested in Religious and Science Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the History of Science, Anthropology and Ethnography.

    1.      Living Blood

    2.      How to Construct a Miracle

    3.      San Gennaro: Assassin or Evil Spirit?

    4.      Discipline and Punish

    5.      The Invention of Time

    6.      Neapolitan Caprice

    7.      It’s Not Blood

    8.      The Ghosts Are Back


    Francesco Paolo de Ceglia is a full professor of History of Science at the University of Bari (Italy) and co-editor of Physis. International Journal for the History of Science. His research centres around Science, corporeality and religion and Science, image and communication. Recent publications include Vampyr. Storia naturale della resurrezione (2023)