Many Catholics have a special remembrance of Saint Blaise due to the annual Blessing of the Throats ceremony held on his feast day. During this ritual, two candles are blessed, gently held open, and then placed against the throats of the faithful while a blessing is recited. Saint Blaise’s reputation for protecting individuals with throat ailments originates from a centuries-old legend recounting a miraculous healing.
While historical details about Saint Blaise are scant, it is widely believed that he served as a bishop in Sebastea, Armenia, and met his martyrdom during the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.
According to the eighth-century legend that has since become associated with Saint Blaise’s life, he was born into a wealthy and devout Christian family. After ascending to the role of bishop, a new wave of persecution against Christians swept through the region. It is said that God instructed him to seek refuge in the mountains to escape the persecution.
During his time in the mountains, Saint Blaise encountered a cave inhabited by sick and suffering wild animals. Fearlessly, he approached them and miraculously cured their illnesses. These animals recognized him as a bishop. However, his mission of compassion took another extraordinary turn when he persuaded a wolf to release a pig belonging to a poor woman who had lost it.
Saint Blaise’s acts of kindness did not go unnoticed. Eventually, he was apprehended by men sent to capture him and bring him to trial. While in captivity, he was sentenced to die of starvation. In a touching display of gratitude, the same poor woman who had lost her pig sneaked into the prison, bringing food and candles to sustain him. Ultimately, Saint Blaise met his martyrdom at the hands of the governor.
Saint Blaise is venerated as the patron saint of wild animals due to his compassionate care for them, as well as the patron saint of those suffering from throat maladies, thanks to the legend of his miraculous healing of a boy with a fishbone stuck in his throat.
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