A special blessing of throats occurs on the feast of St. Blaise, February 3. What is the origin of this?

St. Blaise, Biagio in Italian, Blasco or Blas in Spanish, was a bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, in modern Turkey, who was martyred for witnessing to the faith. He was tortured and beheaded for his beliefs by the local Roman governor around AD 316. This is all that is known about him, the rest being legend. We know much more about devotion to and the popularity of St. Blaise than historical facts.

The special blessing of throats associated with St. Blaise is due to a miracle attributed to him. While in prison, he miraculously saved a boy choking on a fish bone. Early in the sixth century, evidence exists in the Eastern Church that Blaise was prayed to for aliments of the throat. To this day, his feast is a holy day in the Eastern Church. In the ninth century, veneration of St. Blaise came to the Western Church and became very popular. Blessing of the throats with crossed candles began in the 1500s, the height of devotion to St. Blaise, and that blessing is still part of the devotion of the Catholic Church.

No matter what the facts are, St. Blaise is a constant reminder to us of God's care and concern for us in our weakness, sickness, and limited human existence. God's healing touch is with us always. St. Blaise's celebration is one of the ways in which we highlight and thank God for that care and concern.

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