Many a winter program at school was spent with a cough drop or throat lozenge lodged firmly between gum and cheek as I did my best to belt out a solo or being the main supporting role for the entire alto section. I have always been somewhat prone to sore throats and coughs – indeed, I was hypothyroid for a number of years (managed to correct this myself, subject of another blog in another place…) In chakra thinking, the very fact that I love to wear blue and turquoise would indicate that I need extra support for my throat chakra. So, St. Blaise with this throat blessing was instantly attractive to me.
As usual, it isn’t too hard to find general information about St. Blaise, though many of the details are quite sketchy. But finding his miracles has proven slightly more difficult. He is one of the oldest saints, after all, so much of what caused his canonization has been lost in the annals of distant history.
St Blaise’s persecution
St. Blaise was a bishop for the city of Sebastea in Armenia (modern day Sivas, Turkey.) After being driven into exile, he lived as a hermit in a cave where he made friends with the wild animals, healing them of their illnesses and injuries. Also, whilst in this cave, the Golden Legend says that birds brought him meat to eat. They served him and kept him company. In return, Blaise blessed and healed them. Sick people would also come to him and be healed. As such, he is known for healing sick livestock due to this time.
When finally discovered by hunters, who were initially shocked by the sight of Blaise kneeling in prayer, surrounded by wolves, lions (perhaps mountain lions?) and bears. In one version of the tale, the hunters returned to the ruler who sent knights after Blaise.
Before being taken prisoner, Jesus appeared to Blaise three times giving him instruction and warning him of the coming knights. Rather than running away, Blaise welcomed the knights and went with them willingly, preaching and performing miracles on the way.
According to some tales, on the way to prison, he performed two miracles.
St. Blaise successfully freed a pig from the jaws of a wolf – by commanding the wolk to return the pig (unharmed) to the poor woman who owned it. Hence, he is also known as a beast tamer.
Later, upon seeing a woman whose only son was choking to death on a fish bone, he prayed and was able to command the child’s throat to release the bone, thus saving his life. For this, he became known for one who could heal throat problems.
Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia was unmoved by this miracle and tried to get Blaise to make sacrifices to pagan “deities.” Unsuccessful, he threw the saint in prison to await execution.
While in prison, according to the Golden Legend, the woman whose pig had been rescued brought candles to Blaise to lessen the gloom. She also brought some bread and some of the pork from the rescued pig. He thanked God and ate. He then advised that she should offer a candle in his church every year. She did this and lived prosperously.
Still imprisoned, as Agricola hoped to break his endurance, Blaise’s jailor permitted him to receive visitors. As word of this spread, many sick and suffering came to Blaise to be healed or advised.
According to one story, Blaise was once thrown into a lake to drown. Blaise stood on the surface of the water and invited those persecuting him to prove the power of their gods by walking out to him. They did so, and drowned.
Unwilling to compromise his faith, Blaise replied to the demand of sacrifice to idols with these words:
“Thou art blind, because thou art not illuminated by the true light. How can a man sacrifice to idols, when he adores the true God alone? I do not fear thy threats. Do with me according to thy pleasure. My body is in thy power, but God alone has power over my soul. Thou seekest salvation with the idols; I hope and trust to receive it from the only true and living God whom I adore.”
Blaise was tortured with a woolcomb before being beheaded Feb 3, 316 AD.
6th to 8th Centuries
With his reputation of a physician (his days before becoming a bishop) who performed miraculous cures, St Blaise was quickly called on for any illness, but especially throat ailments, for which he was well-known by the sixth century.
By the eighth century he was venerated for his miracles. He later became one of the most popular Middle Ages saints with many altars and some churches dedicated to him.
By the 11th Century, the Blessing of the Throats was an annual event, occurring on the 15th of February. (In modern times, it is observed on the 3rd of February in the Roman rite and on the 11th of February in the Byzantine rite.)
12th – 15th Centuries
From about the 12th century, he became known as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, promoted especially by the German Dominicans, especially in Regensburg at the Church of St. Blaise in about 1320 AD.
There was once, a sacred well with healing waters located in Bromley, Kent, England. In my research, it appears that it is, unfortunately, inaccessible in modern times. As it was a very slow-rising well, it may be that people no longer wished to wait fifteen minutes for a gallon of the sacred water. Whether it is salvageable now is anyone’s guess.
16th – 18th Centuries
In Aubin near Villefranche, France, a church dedicated to Our Lady was rededicated to St. Blaise for a few hundred years – due to his reputation for ending epidemics that wiped out local cattle. Though the church has been rededicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, a statue of St. Blaise remains.
In Bocairent near Valencia, Spain, there was a diptheria epidemic in 1632. The town prayed to San Blas, the plague ended and San Blas became their new patron saint. Annual festivities continue to this day.
Quoted from Croatia…
Church of St Blaise
Was constructed in 1715 in the flamboyant Venetian Baroque style. It was constructed by the Venetian master Marino Gropelli in 1706, on the commission of the Dubrovnik Senate which requested a new church on the site of the old 14th century Romanesque church.
Damaged during the earthquake for the first time, the church was destroyed completely by the devastating fire in 1706. Everything disappeared in flames, apart from the silver statue of St Blaise, which was saved by some miracle. After the years spent in exile at the Church of St Nicholas at Prijeko, the statue was returned to its old place in 1715. The people of Dubrovnik added the following inscription on the statue all other statues made of gold, silver and bronze melted in the fire, while the saints statue was miraculously undamaged.
The statue is one of the most important statues in Dubrovnik, and the model of the city which the saint holds in his hand reveals the city architecture at the time. St Blaise has been honoured as the patron saint of Dubrovnik from the 10th century.
The Blessing of the Throats is still observed in many parishes. People go to ward off illnesses of the throat. Related spiritual ailments may also be protected, things such as the sins of profanity, cursing, gossip or unkind remarks.
Some of St. Blaise’s relics are kept on display at the Abbey of St. Blaise in St. Blasien, southern Germany, the Church of St. Blaise in Dubrovnik, Croatia – where he is the patron saint, and in Italy at the Basilica over the town of Maratea where he is known as San Biagio.
You can honor St. Blaise by caring for the wildlife in your area. A simple birdfeeder can help – and many birds require supplementation year round in the city where much of their natural forage has been paved over.
Saint Blaise, pray for us that we may not suffer from illnesses of the throat and pray that all who are suffering be healed by God’s love. Amen
contribute to this page!
If you have experience a miracle due to intercession of St. Blaise, please comment. I will add it to this page to help others believe in modern miracles!
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28 (prayers and a novena)
http://ewtn.com/Devotionals/novena/blaise.htm (location of a novena to St. Blaise.)