Wednesday, February 3, 2010

St. Blaise

In the fourth century, in Sabastea, Armenia (today Sivas, Turkey), a physician named Barsegh (Blaise) was chosen by acclamation to be the Bishop. Of the many people he is said to have cured, the most enduring of the stories, is that of a woman whose child had a fish bone stuck in his throat who was immediately, miraculously healed.  It was during the reign of the emperor, Valerius Licinianus Licinius that a persecution of Christians took place in the area. The Bishop was beaten with iron combs used at the time for carding wool, and then beheaded.

In eariy art he was depicted with the wool combs and it was only later, with his feast day being placed on the day after The Feast of the Presentation when we bless candles, that the iconography began to depict him with candles, and the tradition developed that on this day we would bless throats using candles, blessed the previous day and  held in the shape of a cross.  Present practice uses the words : 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.