Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saintly Saturday: St. Januarius the Hieromartyr

Today is the Feast of the Hieromartyr Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum (which is in central Italy). As might be guessed, the term Hieromartyr refers to a martyred saint who happens to be bishop (or hierarch).

Januarius was arrested for being a Christian during the reign of the emperor Diolcletian (A.D. 284-305). Menignus, governor of Campagna oversaw the trial. What followed is rather typical of hagiographical accounts of martyrs from this era.

Menigus first had the saint thrown into a furnace. Januarius emerged unharmed. The governor then had the saint beaten with iron rods until bone was exposed. This torture caused a pair of Christians (Desiderius and Faustus the Deacon) in the crowd to weep. They, too, were arrested and all three of them were taken to the city of Puteolum. In jail, they met with other imprisoned Christians — Euchtychius and Acution as well as Sossius and Proculus the Deacons.

The next morning, all of them were led out into the arena to be prey for animals; however, the beasts would not touch them. Claiming that the Christians were performing some kind of sorcery, the governor Menigus was struck blind. Although Januarius prayed for the governor’s healing when asked, Menigus still would not relent on his claim of sorcery even after he regained his sight. He had all of the saints beheaded before the walls of the city.

From an FRPG standpoint, the most inspiring part of this story actually happens centuries later. The Christians of the area collected the bodies of the saints as well as the dried blood of the hieromartyr. These relics have been the source of many miracles. For example, in A.D. 431, Mt. Vesuvius erupted but the lava never reached the city after the locals cried out for the help of St. Januarius. The most intriguing miracle, however, started occurring in the fifteenth century. The dried blood liquifies when it is placed near the skull of St. Januarius.

I figure it is about time that there be a magical item that bears the name of my blog:

The Blood of Prokopius

This relic appears as dried blood coating the interior surface of a glass bottle. If detected for, the bottle itself radiates no magic; however, the blood does. When a clerical spell is cast upon the blood, it liquifies. If the blood is drunk, the imbiber will be healed 1d6 hp per spell level of the clerical spell cast. There will always be a residue left inside the bottle, which quickly dries up after the liquid has been drunk. This process can be repeated three times per day.

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