d. c. 316
Saint Blaise, d. c. 316
Each year on February 3, we can have our throats blessed with crossed candles, asking Saint Blaise for protection against diseases of the throat. The custom dates back to a tradition that says Saint Blaise cured a little boy who was choking to death on a fishbone caught in his throat.
Saint Blaise, who lived around 300, is believed to have been a doctor. When the bishop of Sebasteia (now Sivas, Turkey) died, Blaise was named to succeed him because people knew he was a pious and good man. He is said to have performed many miracles for the people and that even wild animals came to him to be blessed.
When the emperor sent out an order that Christians had to renounce the faith or be killed, Blaise refused to deny Christ. On his way to the place of execution, a mother was supposed to have placed her only son, who had a fishbone in his throat, before Blaise. The Saint stopped to bless and cure the child before he was beaten with iron combs used to card wool and then finally beheaded.
Like many of the early Saints, most of what we know about him comes from stories passed down through the generations, but we also have some records of him from other sources. A court physician from the fifth century talks about people praying to him for help with throat problems and the great thirteenth century traveler and explorer, Marco Polo, who was one of the first Europeans to visit China, mentions the place where he was martyred.
Discuss: What have you done to care for the sick?
Blessing of Throats
Explain to the young people that the blessing of the throats is a ritual observed on the feast day of Saint Blaise.