Feast Day: February 3
Patron: Throat Ailments
Quote: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God free you from illness of the throat and from any other sort of ill. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Traditional Blessing of the Throat
Keywords: Croatia, sick cattle, wild animals, builders, carders, laryngologists, mattress makers, swineherds, throat illness, wind musicians, wool workers
Symbols: crossed candles, episcopal garb, martyrs palms, carder’s comb
Every Catholic Church throughout the world honors the tradition of the Blessing of the Throats on February 3 in invoking Saint Blaise who was martyred seventeen centuries ago. A priest crosses two white candles in a ‘y’ formation over ones throat and recites the above invocation to Saint Blaise in order to stave off throat ailments which often lead to more serious illnesses, throughout the year.
A bishop from Segeste in Armenia (now Turkey), Blaise was renown for his medical knowledge and abilities to heal. He moved to a cave to avoid persecution for his Christian beliefs. Whenever he came upon a sick animal, he healed it with the sign of the cross. Gradually, animals flocked to him. When a group of hunters came across the array of bear, tigers and lions around the cave, they dragged Blaise off to the Roman magistrate. Imprisoned for his Christian views, Blaise continued to heal the sick with the sign of the cross. When a poor woman came to him because the only piglet she owned had been carried off by a wolf, Blaise told her not to worry. The wolf immediately brought the piglet back to her. The woman later tried to repay Blaise by bringing him candles in prison. Blaise advised her to take the candles back and bring one to church as an offering each year and she would always enjoy strong health and good fortune.
While being taken out to face torture for refusing to give up his faith, a frantic mother presented him with a child choking on a fishbone. Upon Blaise’s command, the boy immediately choked up the fishbone and was healed. Blaise then promised to heal all who called on him of any throat ailments. Because he refused to renounce his faith, Blaise was tortured by having his skin torn from his body with carder’s combs, the combs used to separate wool. He was then decapitated.
The cult of Saint Blaise became immensely popular during the Middle Ages and spread throughout the Christian world during the time of the Black Death. Blaise became one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers for his willingness to cure throat ailments. The wool industry claims him as a patron because one of his symbols is a carder’s comb. Because his feast is one day after candelmas, special breads and rolls are baked in his honor.
Invoked against: goiter, throat disease
Novena to St. Blaise to Cure Disorders of the Throat
O God, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blaise, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat; and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Blaise, gracious benefactor of mankind and faithful servant of God, who for the love of our Saviour didst suffer so many tortures with patience and resignation; I invoke thy powerful intercession. (Your intention here.)Preserve me from all evils of soul and body. Because of thy great merits God endowed thee with the special grace to help those that suffer from ills of the throat; relieve and preserve me from them, so that I may always be able to fulfil my duties, and with the aid of God’s grace perform good works. I invoke thy help as special physician of souls, that I may confess my sins sincerely in the holy sacrament of Penance and obtain their forgiveness. I recommend to thy merciful intercession also those who unfortunately concealed a sin in confession. Obtain for them the grace to accuse themselves sincerely and contritely of the sin they concealed, of the sacrilegious confessions and communions they made, and of all the sins they committed since then, so that they may receive pardon, the grace of God, and the remission of the eternal punishment. Amen.
My Lord and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.