February 3, 2023
Author: Hannah DeVivo
Peace be with you! Today, February 3rd, is the feast of Saint Blaise. He is the patron of veterinarians, wool combers, wild animals, candle makers and ailments of the throat. Let’s look into the life and patronage of this powerful saint!
Life of Saint Blaise
There isn’t a lot of information known about Saint Blaise. According to legend, he was born into a wealthy Christian family in the fourth century. He was trained as a doctor and regarded as a righteous man. While still very young, he was ordained as a bishop in the city of Sebaste, Armenia where he is still highly revered. At that time, the edict of Milan had just been signed, but Christians were still being oppressed under Licinius. Blaise escaped the persecution by retiring to the hills and living as a hermit. In the wilderness, wild animals would come to him for healing and gather around his cave. Blaise would walk among them unafraid.
During his life, Saint Blaise performed several miracles. In one instance, there was a woman whose pig was stolen by a ferocious wolf. She sought out Blaise, knowing his connection with animals. Blaise prayed with the woman, and the wolf returned the pig unharmed. Another time, a mother desperately asked Blaise to save her son, who was choking on a fish bone. Blaise prayed over the boy and he was healed. This is the miracle for which he is most remembered.
Death of Saint Blaise
One day the huntsmen of the Roman governor saw the wild animals gathered outside the cave of Saint Blaise and investigated. Discovering the bishop, they brought him before Agricolaus, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia. Agricolaus demanded that Blaise renounce the faith. When Blaise would not deny Christ, he was tortured in excruciating ways. One of the methods of torture during that time was an iron comb which was used to scrape the skin from someone. Blaise was steadfast in the face of pain and refused to reject his faith. He was imprisoned and his torture continued, but he never wavered. It is believed that the woman whose pig was returned to her brought candles to his prison cell, so that he could have light to read the Sacred Scripture during his confinement. Finally, in the year 316, Blaise was beheaded.
Blessing of the Throats
The Blessing of the Throats has been a sacramental in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. On the feast of Saint Blaise, parishioners can bring candles blessed either the day prior (the feast of Candlemas), or unblessed candles which will be blessed during the Mass when the priest prays for the intercession of Saint Blaise. During the Mass, the priest says the following prayer:
“God, almighty and all-mild, by your Word alone you created the manifold things in the world, and willed that the same Word by whom all things were made take flesh in order to redeem mankind; you are great and immeasurable, awesome and praiseworthy, a wonder of marvels. Hence in professing his faith in you the glorious martyr and bishop, Blaise, did not fear any manner of torment but gladly accepted the palm of martyrdom. In virtue of which you bestowed on him, among other gifts, the power to heal all ailments of the throat. And now we implore your majesty that, overlooking our guilt and considering only his merits and intercession, it may please you to bless and sanctify and impart your grace to these candles. Let all men of faith whose necks are touched with them be healed of every malady of the throat, and being restored in health and good spirits let them return thanks to you in your holy Church, and praise your glorious name which is blessed forever; through Christ our Lord.”
After the priest says the blessings, he will invite those who want their throats blessed to come forward. He then holds out two blessed candles tied with a red ribbon in the shape of an “X” and blesses the throats of each individual. He touches each side of their necks with the candles, saying “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The candles are held in the shape of an “X” in remembrance of Saint Andrew, who was put to death on a cross that laid on it’s side. The red ribbon signifies the blood of the martyrs who have died for the Faith.
Further Patronage of Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise has been called upon for his intercession ever since his death. He has remained a highly respected saint, and even became the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Croatia due to a miraculous apparition. In 971, Saint Blaise appeared to a local man. He warned the man that a large Venetian force was going to invade their town. The man, though alarmed, ran to tell the town of what happened. All the townspeople got together and responded to the attack prepared to defend their homes. The Venetians had no choice but to flee, since they had lost the element of surprise. The townspeople rejoiced and several churches were built in the name of Saint Blaise.
We have several devotional objects to Saint Blaise, and a summary of his life in some of our books. Take a look at the items here!
Do you have a special devotion to Saint Blaise?
Have you ever attended The Blessing of the Throats at your parish?
Did you learn anything new in this article?
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