February 2, 2020, The Presentation of the Lord
In accord with various traditions, St. Blaise was born to rich and noble parents, and received a Christian education. He was a physician before being consecrated a bishop at a young age. Although such a statement seems terse, keep in mind that at that time the local community usually nominated a man to be a bishop based on his outstanding holiness and leadership qualities; he in turn was then examined and consecrated by other bishops with the approval of the Holy Father. Therefore, St. Blaise must have been a great witness of our Faith, to say the least.
Eventually, the governor, Agricolaus condemned St. Blaise for upholding his Christian faith rather than apostatizing. While in prison, he miraculously cured a small boy who was choking to death on a fishbone lodged in his throat. Also, the woman whose pig had been saved brought St. Blaise candles so that his cell would have light and he could read the sacred Scriptures.
One reason for St. Blaise’s popularity arose from the fact he was a physician who cured, even performing miraculous cures. Thereby, those who were sick, especially with throat ailments, invoked his intercession. Eventually the custom of the blessing of throats arose, whereby the priest held two crossed candles over the heads of the faithful or touched their throats with them while he invoked the prayer of the saint and imparted God’s blessing. In our present Roman Ritual, the priest prays, “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, 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”. This practice continues in many parishes on St. Blaise’s feast day.
While we invoke St. Blaise for his protection against any physical ailment of the throat, we should also ask is protection against any spiritual ailment — profanity, cursing, unkind remarks, detraction or gossip. St. James reminds us, “If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is self-deceived; his worship is pointless” (1:26) and later, “We use [the tongue] to say, Praised be the Lord and Father’; then we use it to curse men, though they are made in the likeness of God. Blessing and curse come out of the same mouth. This ought not to be, my brothers!” (3:9-10). Therefore, may St. Blaise protect us from all evil, physical and spiritual, which may attack the throat.