Today is the Memorial of St Blaise, a day when Catholics have their throats blessed, with candles that were blessed the previous day, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple or Candlemas day. Where did this tradition come from?
Saint Blaise was born to a wealthy Armenian family in about 280. He studied medicine, after treating his patients, he often made the sign of the cross. He was elected and consecrated a bishop at a young age. During the persecution of Licinius, a former ally of Constantine who began persecuting the Church, Blaise experienced a call to live as a hermit in a cave outside of town, where he was known to heal sick and wounded wild animals. He was eventually discovered by hunters who were roaming the countryside capturing animals to use in the amphitheater games. Blaise was taken to Agricolaus, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, and thrown into jail. On his way to prison, he miraculously cured a little boy who was choking to death on a fish bone. Since the eighth century, Saint Blaise has been venerated as the patron of those who suffer from diseases of the throat.
Saint Blaise refused to deny his faith. Consequently, he was imprisoned without food and was scourged with iron carding combs, which scraped and tore his flesh. After these tortures, Saint Blaise was beheaded in about 316.
St. Blaise appeared to the city’s inhabitants of Dubrovnik, to warn them of an impending attack by the Venetians in 971. Ever since, Dubrovnik has honored him as its patron, where many of his relics are.
Prayer to St. Blaise for protection, particularly from afflictions of the throat.
O glorious St. Blaise, who by your martyrdom left to the Church a precious witness to the Faith, obtain for us the grace to preserve within ourselves this divine gift, and to defend — without concern for human respect — both by word and example, the truth of that same Faith, which is so wickedly attacked and slandered in these our times. You miraculously restored a little child who was at the point of death because of an affliction of the throat.
Grant us your mighty protection in similar misfortunes. And, above all, obtain for us the grace of Christian mortification, together with faithful observance of the precepts of the Church, which keep us from offending almighty God. Amen.
The priest holds two candles fastened like a cross to the throat of the person kneeling before him, and says:
Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
—Prayer from the the Blessing of the Throats