St. Blaise was a Bishop in Armenia who suffered martyrdom under Licinius about A.D. 316.
Tradition tells us that St. Blaise was born to noble parents and became a physician and later was consecrated a bishop. In the early Church, the election of bishops was done by a popular vote of the faithful. The man would then be examined by other bishops and consecrated with the approval of the Holy Father. St. Blaise was frequently sought out for his healing, both of bodily and spiritual ills.
Though, Emperor Constantine and Licinius co-authored the Edict of Milan in 313, which legalized the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire, Licinius, betrayed this edict and began persecuting the Church. St. Blaise was quickly arrested for being a Christian, but on his way to the jail, a woman approached St. Blaise with her young son who was choking on a fish bone. To the amazement of the local governor, Agricola, Saint Blaise cured the boy, but refused to renounce his faith.
Either shortly before or after this healing, a woman whose pig had been seized by a wolf, begged for the help of Saint Blaise. At St Blaise’s command, the wolf released the pig. The grateful woman later appeared at the prison bearing two fine candles to light the darkness of Saint Blaise’s cell.
Saint Blaise refused to renounce his faith and sentenced to death by Agricola, who had him tortured with an iron comb before being beheaded.
By the sixth century, St. Blaise’s intercession was invoked for diseases of the throat. From this we have our present custom of the blessing of throats, whereby the priest holds two crossed candles across the throats of the faithful while invoking the intercession of the saint and imparting God’s blessing.
Saint Blaise, pray for us.
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