Feb. 3: The Feast of St. Blaise

The-Arrest-And-Miracles-Of-Saint-BlaiseFeast days like today are one of the many reasons I LOVE being Catholic.

Allegretto Nuzi’s 14th century painting “The arrest and miracles of Saint Blaise” illustrates the story of the saint negotiating with the dog to release the poor woman’s only pig, while the storm troopers of Emperor Licinius come to arrest him.

Here’s some of the great story of St. Blaise:

Many Catholics might remember Saint Blaise’s feast day, February 3, because of the Blessing of the Throats that take place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said.

Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise. It is believed he was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.

The legend of St. Blaise tells us that he was born into a rich and noble family who raised him as a Christian. He became a bishop. Later, a new persecution of Christians began. He received a message from God to go into the hills to escape persecution. Hunters discovered a cave surrounded by wild animals who were sick. Blaise walked among them unafraid, curing them of their illnesses. The hunters recognized Blaise as a Bishop, so they captured him to take him back for trial. On the way back, he talked a wolf into releasing a pig that belonged to a poor woman.

When Blaise was sentenced to be starved to death, the woman, in gratitude, sneaked into the prison with food and candles. Finally, the governor had Blaise killed.

Saint Blase is the patron of physicians, sick cattle, wax- chandlers, woolcombers, and of wild animals because of his care for them and of those with throat maladies. He is invoked against afflictions of the throat (Bentley, Roeder).

As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Blase was much venerated throughout Central Europe. In art he is a bishop with a metal comb and a tall candle. He may be shown in many different ways: (1) with crozier (pastoral staff) and two candles (no comb); (2) martyred by being torn with iron combs; (3) in a cave with wild animals; (4) discovered by hunters, a fawn near him (not to be confused with the monk, Saint Giles); (5) blessing the birds in front of a cave; (6) rescuing a poor woman’s pig from a wolf; (6) saving the life of a boy who swallowed a fishbone; or (7) with the city of Dubrovnik in his hand or being carried over the city by angels .

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