This Friday, 3rd February, is the (optional) Memorial of St. Blaise (d. 316), the patron saint of sore throats, and one of the most popular of all saints. The sources on his life are unreliable, but for sure, he was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. Indeed, he is the only Armenian saint to be commemorated in the Roman Calendar. It is said that during a period of persecution, the governor of Cappadocia imprisoned him in a cave outside Sebaste. A mother came to the Bishop, asking him to cure her son, who was choking on the fishbone, stuck in his throat. The Bishop saved the boy with his prayer and with the sign of the cross. For that reason, ever since he has been venerated as the patron saint of those suffering from diseases of the throat. He was eventually condemned to death and beheaded in 316. On this day, many people receive a blessing of the throat. Two blessed candles are tied or held together in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross and applied to the throat, as the priest pronounces a special invocation to St. Blaise, asking him to protect the individual from diseases of the throat. Let us pray on Friday for anyone afflicted with problems of the throat: cancer, Covid, a cold or whatever.
Here is the special Blessing Prayer that the priest uses on this feastday, as he holds two candles under the throat of the person being blessed, while making the Sign of the Cross: 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 Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from all other harm besides. In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.’