Sickness and suffering are mysteries that confront most Christians at some time in their lives. Believers cherish the stories of Jesus' tender concern for the poor and sick who sought to find relief and meaning in their struggles. The flesh-and-blood example of a long line of Christian witnesses whose faith sustained them in time of trial offers us hope when shadows darken our lives. Saint Blase was such a person.
Blase served as bishop of Armenia in the fourth century. Little is known about his life, but tradition tells us that he saved a small boy from choking on a fish bone.
Because of this, his help is sought for those who are sick, especially those who are afflicted with illnesses of the throat. On February 3, the feast of Saint Blase, the church continues its ministry to the sick with the blessing of throats.
This blessing, which can take place either after the homily at Mass or as part of a liturgy of the word, invokes God's healing and protection.
Two blessed candles, joined in the form of a cross, are placed around the throat of each person seeking a blessing.
The minister then prays,
"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, 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."
Humbled by physical weakness and human limitations, we acknowledge our faith in God's protective love for all who call upon God's name. Text by Kathy Luty.
Tradition has it that....
Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games, and found many waiting outside Blaise's cave. Discovered in prayer, Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day. Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs (which led to his association with and patronage of those involved in the wool trade), and then beheading.