Feb. 3, 2016 Wednesday: St. Blase
Many Catholics are familiar with St. Blase because he is associated with a special blessing of the throats that is given on this day.
Blase was born to a wealthy family of noble heritage in present-day Armenia in the fourth century. He received a good education—some accounts tell us that he was a physician before he was named a bishop.
During a persecution of Christians, Blase escaped arrest by living in a cave. There are many stories about him interacting with wild animals during his hiding. People sought him out there to ask for his intercession because he was known for curing the sick.
One woman came to him with her little boy, who was close to dying because he had a fishbone stuck in his throat. Blase healed the boy; this event and others like it has made him patron saint of those with throat trouble.
He was eventually discovered and brought to authorities. While he was being transported to prison, the arresting party came across a poor woman in distress. The woman depended upon her pig for her livelihood, but a wolf had carried the pig away. At the command of St. Blase, the wolf returned it unharmed.
While he was imprisoned, Blase was beaten and starved. The woman whose pig he saved brought him food, and she also brought him candles so that he would not have to sit in the dark of his dungeon. Eventually, Blase was tortured and beheaded.
The story of the throat miracle and the candles in the dungeon are the origins of the special blessing of the throats that is given today with candles. Traditionally, the candles are blessed on Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas.
Priests hold these candles in the shape of an “X” and place them over the head or under the chin, and extend this prayer: “Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Church prays in a special way today for all of those who are sick as well as those who care for them. St. Blase’s relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, and his image is used here with permission from Catholic.org.
St. Blase, you saved a boy from choking to death and are patron against illness, pray for us!