Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr.
St. Blaise was a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus and was a healer of men and animals. Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games and found many waiting outside Blaise's cave. Discovered in prayer, Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fishbone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day.
Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs, and then beheading.
Blaise has been extremely popular for centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches and many cures were attributed to him, notably that of a child who was suffocating through a fishbone being caught in his throat. In 1222 the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labor in England on his feast. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is invoked for all throat afflictions, and on his feast, two candles are blessed with a prayer that God will free from all such afflictions and every ill all those who receive this blessing.
Hear, O Lord, the supplications your people make under the patronage of the Martyr Saint Blaise, and grant that they may rejoice in peace in this present life, and find help for life eternal.
Due to the pandemic and the necessity of maintaining physical distancing, an individual blessing of the throats is not be permitted. The celebrant will impart a general blessing to the congregation.
The faithful are reminded that the efficacy of the blessing lies in the intention of the person offering the blessing and not the proximity of the recipient to that person. The general blessing of throats will be offered at all Masses on Wednesday, February 3 and at all Masses the weekend of February 6 & 7.