This post is part of a series of posts on the life of saints. Basically, saints are holy men and women whose lives demonstrate the glory of God and are now in heaven in his presence.Check out an earlier post if you are interested in more information about what a saint is.
Today’s post is about St. Blaise. I remember going to a service on St. Blaise’s feast day as a child and being very confused, my mom explained what was happening, but it was not an ordinary tradition. At the end of the service people had their throats blessed using candle sticks. When I saw that St. Blaise’s feast day coming up I knew I needed to do some more investigating.
As a young man in the 3rd century St. Blaise studied philosophy and medicine. While a practicing physician, healing the community’s bodies St. Blaise chose to enter the priesthood and heal souls. Before long he was ordained Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia (present-day Sivas in Turkey).
St. Blaise lived on the fringe of the Roman empire during a time of persecution for the church, he saw many Christians persecuted for their faith and strived to set an example in every way. After some time, St. Blaise began to presided as a bishop in a cave on Mt. Argeus, in order to best serve the community entrusted to him. While living in the cave, he devoted himself to prayer and the pastoral care of both people and the wilderness. Many people came to St. Blaise to be healed in the name of Jesus and it seemed he had a special relationship with the animals.
The local Governor, Agricolous sent his knights into the wilds on a hunting party, when they stumbled upon then-Bishop Blaise’s cave. They seized and carried him of to prison. Even after imprisonment, this Oriental saint adamantly refused to worship the Governor’s gods, and as punishment he was tortured by tearing his flesh with wool combs, ouch! He was martyred by beheading, alongside seven women and two children around the year 316.
According to the 6th century legends, it was during this imprisonment that St. Blaise healed a child who was choking on a fish bone, helped a women recover her pig, and prayed in the presence of peaceful wolves. Much of the legend surrounding this 3rd century Armenian bishop, martyr, and saint are not supported in recorded fact, but still offer spiritual insights and inspiration.
The Saint in Art:
St. Blaise’s emblems are wax, taper, iron combs (the supposed instruments of his passion), or two crossed candles. There are two common scenes St. Blaise is represented in art (1) in a cave with animals (2) as a Bishop holding two crossed candles. St. Blaise’s emblems are wax, taper, iron/wool combs, wild animals, 2 crossed candles.
Patron Saint Of
St. Blaise is most commonly known as the patron of throat injuries and diseases, but is also the patron of veterinarians, animals, and against attacks of wild animals. A few other intentions he has been associated with are construction workers, coughs, the Croatian cities of Dalmatia and Dubrovnik, thyroid disease (goiters), stone cutters, whooping cough, wool-combers, and wool weavers. If only I had known when Anna had whooping cough last summer.
Considering the aforementioned patronages, we can name St. Blaise as the unofficial saint of a few modern day things like graphic wolf t-shirts, the Heimlich maneuver, throat lozenges, and burning yourself on candles.
As an ancient saint we have no accredited quotes to St. Blaise, but we do have the special prayer offered for the throat.
On the feast of Saint Blaise, a special blessing of the throat is offered in many parishes: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil.”
Ways to Celebrate:
Feast Day: February 3rd
Make a throat soothing soup. One of our favorites lately is this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup.
1.) Learn about your throat by making a respiratory system.
2.) Make your own saint character craft.
3.) Pray for the church persecuted and for the strength and courage to keep the faith like St. Blaise.
4.) Be inventive with a toilet paper rolls and make your own candles.
5.) Go to mass with your family to receive the blessing of throats.
6.) Prayer to St. Blaise
So hopefully now you are prepared to celebrate one of the churches ancient saints, St. Blaise, on his feast day today and hopefully you have gained a new friend in heaven. I know I have.
To see more check out some of my earlier posts in this series: