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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saint Blaise - February 3

Saint Blaise
February 3
Bishop and Martyr
Patron of those suffering with throat ailments

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Blaise a fourth century Bishop and martyr. Saint Blaise is also given special recognition with a unique ceremony where the throats of those with ailments or something related to the throat are blessed. This blessing is considered a sacramental of the Church. During this ritual, two blessed white tapers (blessed the day before on February 2 the Day of the Presentation of Jesus also known as Candlemas Day) are pressed against the throat of the faithful and a blessing said.

Butler’s Lives of the Saints records that Saint Blaise devoted his early life to the study of philosophy before becoming a physician. Finding this practice unfulfilling he resolved to spend the rest of his life serving God as a physician of souls. Becoming a Bishop, he served the people of Sebaste, Armenia during a time when Rome was ruled by co-emperor’s, Licinius in the east and Constantine in the west.

Emperor Licinius sent Agricola, governor of Armenia to Sebaste, initially to find animals to be used for the arena games. Instead, Agricola found Saint Blaise deep in prayer. Refusing to recant Christianity, Saint Blaise was arrested. At first Saint Blaise was to be martyred by drowning, but after being thrown into a lake, he taunted his persecutors by standing on the surface of the water and inviting them to walk out to him and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land he was martyred by having his flesh torn with wool combs before his beheading.

Saint Blaise was martyred in 316, though Emperor Constantine had legalized the practice of Christianity in 313.  Licinius, Constantine’s co-emperor had agreed with the legalization, but betrayed Constantine by continuing to persecute the Church and arresting Saint Blaise.  Licinius was finally defeated by Constantine in 324. 

Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, Bishop and martyr,
may God deliver you from ailments of the throat
and from every other evil, in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

For items related to Saint Blaise
please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures
Stained glass window from the area of Soissons (Picardy, France), early 13th century - St. Blaise confronting the Roman governor

Section of The Last Judgment Sistine Chapel – Michaelangelo (repainted by Daniele da Volterra) Saint Blaise (in red) carries the iron combs used for his torture, Saint Catherine (in green) holds the toothed knife of her martyrdom and St. Sebastian to the right holds arrows.

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