Today is the Feast of Saint Blaise.
Saint Blaise was bishop of a diocese called Sebastea (now in modern day Turkey). The local Roman governor persecuted him until he was martyred in 316 AD under the Roman Emperor, Licinius. Interestingly Licinius co-authored the Edict of Milan, which finally ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Did the legends of Saint Blaise help Licinius to change his mind and stop persecuting Christians? After his death, he was made a saint and became the patron saint of wool combers, wild animals, candle makers and of the West Yorkshire town of Bradford. However, he is more famously known as the Patron Saint of throats.
Many scholars believe this was because his Feast Day fell around the time of year when many people would have sore throats. A traditional ceremony today is for a priest to put two crossed candles or tapers under a person’s throat and pray that “God [will] deliver you from ills of the throat and other ills”. However, due to his connection to wool and its trade, he became a popular saint in Medieval Britain (hence Bradford - which by the 1850s was estimated to process two thirds of the country's wool production and was generally known as the wool capital of the world).
Therefore, through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver us from every disease of the throat and from every other illness. Alongside Saint Jude, Blaise is another saint of hope for us all.
Saint Blaise, pray for us; Saint Jude, pray for us.
Cross and sclupture of Blaise atop a church in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Image credit: deymos