Sunday, February 3, 2019

St. Blaise

Very few facts are known about St. Blaise. It is believed that he lived in the early fourth century, and was of a noble and wealthy Christian Armenian family. While he was still very young, Blaise was made a bishop. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire was already five years old, there was still much persecution of Christians in Armenia. God instructed Blaise to escape his enemies by fleeing to the mountains, where he lived as a hermit.

Then, one day in 316, a hunting party stumbled upon the solitary hermit and took him back to Cappadocia. Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to worship pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, and he was beaten. The second time, he was hung from a tree and his flesh torn with iron hooks. The third time he refused, he was beheaded.

As legend has it, a mother brought her young son, who was slowly dying of suffocation due to a bone lodged in his throat, to be blessed by Blaise. But at Blaise’s command the child was able to cough up the bone and lived. On his feast day, the blessing of St. Blaise is given: two candles are consecrated and then held by a priest in a crossed position either over the heads or at the throats of the faithful.

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