I had a conversation with a friend yesterday after Candlemas and we both lamented the diminishment of a lively devotional life for Catholics. Today’s feast of Saint Blase and the blessing of throats would be a part of that lively devotional life. I would claim —not scientifically, mind you— that many Catholics don’t know of Saint Blase and the laudable custom of blessing throats even though he gets a nominal mention in places. In the medieval Christianity the faithful’s cult of Blaise was arguably one of the most popular. England, once-upon-a-time, had a national holiday devoted to Saint Blaise and it is said that in the Diocese of Rome there were 35 churches dedicated to Saint Blase.
Our liturgical memorial of Saint Blase recognizes that the saint was an Armenian physician who as elected as the bishop of Sebaste (currently called Sivas, Turkey). Facing martyrdom because of his Christian confession, he was beaten, scraped with iron carding combs, and finally beheaded in AD 317. The holy bishop-martyr is a great reminder that following the Lord is not easy but possible.
Blase is the patron of those living with diseases of the throat, wool combers and wool traders, and he is one of the patrons of physicians. Tradition tells us that Saint Blaise cured a boy who was dying of a fish-bone stuck in his throat. Priests bless the throats of Catholics on his feast day at Mass.
Don’t let today go by without asking for the intercession of Saint Blase.