Blessing of Throats for Saint Blaise
The feast of Saint Blaise is observed on February 3. Catholics have a tradition of blessing throats on this day, symbolizing the intercession of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of throat ailments.
The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise, also known as Saint Blasius, lived during the third century in the region that is now modern-day Armenia. He was a physician and a bishop, known for his deep faith and his compassionate nature. Blaise dedicated his life to serving God by caring for the sick and healing the afflicted. His reputation as a healer and miracle worker quickly spread, earning him the respect and admiration of the local community.
During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Licinius, Blaise was arrested for his unwavering commitment to his faith. Despite facing severe torture, he remained steadfast in his beliefs. Legends say that while he was imprisoned, a woman approached him with her son who was choking on a fishbone. Blaise miraculously saved the child's life, solidifying his association with the healing of throat ailments.
Blaise was martyred in AD 316 when he refused to obey Agricolaus, the governor of Cappadocia, who wanted him to make sacrifices to pagan idols. Upon his first refusal, Blaise was beaten. When he refused a second time, he was suspended from a tree and his flesh was torn with iron rakes. The third time he refused to submit, he was beheaded for his faith.
Most of what is “known” about Saint Blaise comes from The Acts of Saint Blaise, believe to have been written approximately four hundred years after his death. Given the passage of time, it is difficult to know for sure whether all the details in that volume are accurate. However, as is the case with the biographies of most ancient saints, the specific biographical details are less important than the (verified) fact of his devotion and martyrdom for his faith.
The Tradition of Blessing Throats
The practice of blessing throats on the feast day of Saint Blaise can be traced back to the eighth century. It is believed that a group of monks in France invoked Saint Blaise's intercession to heal a young boy who was choking on a fishbone. Through their prayers, the child was miraculously saved. This event led to the widespread belief in Saint Blaise's special protection against throat ailments.
The throat blessing ceremony usually involves the use of two crossed candles, which are held close to the throat of the individual receiving the blessing. The priest or deacon then recites a prayer invoking Saint Blaise's intercession for the healing and protection of the throat. This ritual is a powerful symbol of faith and a reminder of Saint Blaise's healing powers.
The Significance of the Throat Blessing
The throat blessing holds both spiritual and practical significance. On a spiritual level, it serves as a reminder of God's healing presence and the power of prayer. It instills faith in the hearts of the faithful that their prayers for physical healing, especially related to throat ailments, are heard and answered. The throat blessing also brings comfort to those suffering from such ailments, offering them hope and reassurance.
Practically, the tradition of blessing throats encourages individuals to take care of their vocal health and seek medical assistance when needed. It serves as a reminder to cherish the gift of speech, which enables communication, expression, and connection with others.
The feast of Saint Blaise and the associated throat blessing ceremony hold a special place in the hearts of the faithful. Through his life of compassion and healing, Saint Blaise has become an inspiration for generations. The throat blessing tradition symbolizes the intercession of this beloved saint and brings comfort, faith, and hope to those who seek healing and protection for their throats.
As we commemorate the feast of Saint Blaise, let us remember the importance of caring for our vocal health and the power of prayer. May the intercession of Saint Blaise continue to bring solace and healing to all those in need, reminding us of the divine mercy and love that surrounds us.
Prayer to Saint Blaise
O glorious Saint 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.
From Catholic Culture