Thousands of Neapolitans crowded the Italian city of Naples’s cathedral on Monday to see what they believe to be the dried blood of their patron saint liquefy in a glass vial.

The alleged "miracle", which has been taking place almost without fail for centuries, is seen as a sign that San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) still loves them.

In a ceremony attended by the city’s mayor and thousands of Roman Catholic faithful, Cardinal Michele Giordano held up the glass vial and swirled around the dark red liquid inside for all to see.

Prolonged applause greeted the liquefaction, which is seen as a good omen by superstitious Neapolitans.

"The miracle certainly represents a message of hope. It is a sign that San Gennaro continues to protect our city," said Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino, a practising Catholic.

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