History of the Blessing of Throats: St. Blaise
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
Saint Blaise (†316) devoted the earlier years of his life to the study of philosophy, and afterwards became a physician. In the practice of his profession, he saw so much of the sufferings of life and the emptiness of worldly pleasures, that he resolved to spend the rest of his days serving God and neighbor. He was a healer of bodily ailments, but he became a physician of souls. When God called him to prayer, he retired to a cavern to enter into contemplation.
When the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia died, Blaise, much to the gratification of the inhabitants of that city, was chosen to succeed him. Saint Blaise at once began to instruct his people, as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.
When the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius, Saint Blaise was seized. After interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison. While he was under custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was dying of a throat disease, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured. The prisoner was brought before Agricolaus again for further questioning, and again was whipped while tied to a pillar. The wicked ruler then decided to throw Saint Blaise in a lake to drown him. When he survived the attempted drowning, Agricolaus, the governor, ordered he be beheaded.
At the execution site Saint Blaise prayed aloud to God for his persecutors, and asked that in the future those who would invoke him might be aided, as he had been permitted to assist them during his lifetime. Our Lord appeared to him and said in a voice, which all bystanders heard, that He granted his prayer. Since that time, the faithful have called on the intercession of Saint Blaise, especially in cases of all kinds of throat problems.
The life of Saint Blaise and the tradition of blessing throats in his name tell us that holiness of the saints brings us heavenly intercession. The life of Saint Blaise shows how holy men and women intercede for those who need God’s help. Just as salvation is mediated, so too is healing. Whether through natural or supernatural means, God can bring His healing touch.
Today, as we kneel in prayer, waiting for the priest to place the candles softly around our throat, we put our trust in the powerful intercession of Saint Blaise, especially as we pray for protection from the spread of covid. In the face of the suffering, sickness, and evil of this world, let us never be silent but open wide our mouths in prayer to God and in exhortation to our fellow man. As we honor today Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, we thank God for the blessings He has sent by his intercession.
Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii, episcopi et martyris,
liberet te Deus a malo gutturis, et a quolibet alio malo.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr,
may God free you from illness of the throat and from any other evil.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.