Thursday, February 3, 2011

FEBRUARY 3: Feas of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr (Blessing of Throats)

 Life of Saint Blaise

Saint Blaise devoted the earlier years of his life to the study of philosophy, and afterwards became a physician. In the practice of his profession he saw so much of the miseries of life and the hollowness of worldly pleasures, that he resolved to spend the rest of his days in the service of God. From being a healer of bodily ailments, he became a physician of souls, then retired for a time, by divine inspiration, to a cavern where he remained in prayer.

When the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia died, Blaise, much to the gratification of the inhabitants of that city, was chosen to succeed him. Saint Blaise at once began to instruct his people, as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.

When the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius, Saint Blaise was seized. After interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison. While he was under custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was dying of a throat disease, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.

The prisoner was brought before Agricolaus again for further questioning, and again was whipped while tied to a pillar. He was spared from drowning when thrown into a lake; the governor ordered then that he be beheaded. At the execution site he prayed aloud to God for his persecutors, and asked that in the future those who would invoke him might be aided, as he had been permitted to assist them during his lifetime. Our Lord appeared to him and said in a voice which all bystanders heard, that He granted his prayer. Since that time his intercession has often been effectually solicited, especially in cases of all kinds of throat problems.


The Blessing of Throats
The feast of St. Blaise, February 3, is the day to receive the Blessing of Throats. Special candles are blessed to be used for the Blessing. In this blessing of candles we find mention of his power of healing of throats, granted him at his request as he was dying, it is said:

V. Our help + is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit. Let us pray.

Almighty and most gentle God, Who didst create the multiplicity of things through Thine only Word, and didst will that same Word through Whom all things were made to take flesh for the refashioning of man; Thou, Who art great and without measure, terrible and worthy of praise, a Worker of wonders: the glorious martyr and bishop Blaise, not fearing to suffer all sorts of diverse tortures because of his profession of faith in Thee, was suited happily to bear the palm of martyrdom: and Thou didst grant to him, among other graces, the favor that he should by Thy power cure all kinds of illnesses of the throat: we humbly beg Thy Majesty not to look upon our sins, but to be pleased by his merits and prayers and to deign in Thy venerable kindness to bless + and sanctify + this creature of wax by the outpouring of Thy grace; that all whose necks in good faith are touched by it may be freed by the merits of his sufferings from any illness of the throat, and that healthy and strong they may offer thanks to Thee within Thy Holy Church, and praise Thy glorious name, which is blessed forever and ever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

R. Amen.

When we go to church to have our throats blessed, this is what the priest says as he touches our throats with the crossed candles:

Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver you from sickness of the throat, and from every evil; in the name of the Father...

St. Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers or Auxiliary Saints. So we greet him on his feast day and give thanks to God for his blessing.

From The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, 1956. 

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