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Church bans relic kissing due to H1N1

NAPLES, Italy, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Church authorities in Naples, Italy, said kissing a vessel said to contain the dried blood of St. Gennaro will not be allowed this year due to H1N1 concerns.

Officials said the Sept. 19 anniversary of the saint's martyrdom in 305 will still include the relic, but the traditional kissing of the item for good luck will not be allowed due to concerns about the H1N1 flu, ANSA reported Monday.

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Church leaders said concerns about the disease were bolstered by last week's death of a victim in Naples, the first H1N1 death in Italy.

The vessel, which contains two phials said to hold Gennaro's blood, will still be put up for display as the substance inside liquefies -- known as the miracle of San Gennaro -- Sept. 19. Skeptics say the substance inside the phials turns to liquid due to being shaken or warmed by human hands.

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