Saint Blaise

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Blaise
death_date=ca. 316
feast_day=February 3 (February 11 in Eastern Church)
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches

caption=Blaise confronting the Roman governor: scene from a stained glass window from the area of Soissons (Picardy, France), early 13th century.
feast_day=February 3
titles=Hieromartyr, Holy Helper
attributes=Wool comb, candles, tending a choking boy or animals
patronage=Animals, builders, choking, veterinarians, throats, infants, Ciudad del Este, Sicily, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Paraguay, Rubiera, stonecutters, carvers, wool workers

Saint Blaise (Greek: Άγιος Βλάσιος, "Agios Vlasios"; Armenian: Սուրբ Բարսեղ) was a physician and bishop of Sebaste (modern Sivas), Armenia. According to his "Acta" he was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron carding combs, and beheaded.

In iconography, Blaise is often shown with the instruments of his martyrdom, iron combs. The similarity of these instruments of torture to wool combs led to his adoption as the patron saint of wool combers in particular, and the wool trade in general. He may also be depicted with crossed candles. Such crossed candles (left unlighted for safety reasons) are used for the blessing of throats on the feast day of St. Blaise, which falls on February 3, the day after Candlemas on the Catholic calendar of saints, Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses, especially for fish-bones stuck in the throat. The blessing is: "Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo." (May God at the intercession of Saint Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil).

Indeed, the first reference we have to him is in manuscripts of the medical writings of Aëtius Amidenus, the court physician of Justinian I, where his aid is invoked in treating objects stuck in the throat. He cured animals and lived in a cage. Before being killed, he spoke to a wolf and told it to release a pig it was harming. The wolf did so. Saint Blaise was going to be starved but the owner of the pig secretly gave him food in order to survive. After a while, he was tortured because of what he believed in but did not give up faith, he then died in the year 316.

Cult of Saint Blaise

His cult became widespread in Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. St. Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers or Auxiliary Saints and his legend is recounted in the fourteenth-century "Legenda Aurea"

He is the patron of the Armenian Order of Saint Blaise.

Many German churches, including the former Abbey of St. Blasius in the Black Forest are dedicated to Saint Blaise/Blasius.

In Spanish-speaking countries, he is known as San Blas, and has lent his name to many places (see San Blas).

In Cornwall the village of St Blazey derives from his name, where the parish church is still dedicated to Saint Blaise. Indeed, the council of Oxford in 1222 forbade all work on his festival. ["Encyclopaedia Britannica", 1911: "Blaise".] In Italy he is known as "San Biagio".

There is a church dedicated to Saint Blaise in the Devon hamlet of Haccombe, near Newton Abbot. Also one at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and another at Milton near Abingdon in the Royal County of Berkshire. This is one of the country's smallest churches. It is located next to Haccombe house which is the family home of the Carew family, descendants of the captain of the Mary Rose at the time of her sinking. One curious fact associated with this church is that its "vicar" goes by the title of "archpriest".According to "Brand's Popular Antiquities" (1813), in areas of the English countryside it was the custom to light bonfires on St. Blaise's feast day, February 3 - evidently inspired by the sound of the word "blaze".

In Bromley there exists St. Blaze's Well [] [] where the water was considered to have medicinal virtues.

A Blessing of the Throats ceremony is held on February 3 at St Etheldreda's Church in London and in Balve.

Saint Blaise is the saint of the wild beast.

As Vlaho and Vlasij

Blaise is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik (where he is known as "Sveti Vlaho") and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa. At Dubrovnik his feast is celebrated yearly on 3 February, when relics of the saint, his head, a bit of bone from his throat, his right hand and his left, are paraded in reliquaries. The festivities begin the previous day, Candlemas, when white doves are released. Chroniclers of Dubrovnik such as Rastic and Ranjina attribute his veneration there to a vision in 971 to warn the inhabitants of an impending attack by the Venetians, whose galleys had dropped anchor in Gruz and near Lokrum, ostensibly to resupply their water but furtively to spy out the city's defenses. St. Blaise (Blasius) revealed their pernicious plan to Stojko, a canon of St. Stephen's Cathedral. The Senate summoned Stojko, who told them in detail how St. Blaise had appeared before him as an old man with a long beard and a bishop's mitre and staff. In this form the effigy of Blaise remained on Dubrovnik's state seal and coinage until the Napoleonic era.

In Russia, St. Vlasij is the patron saint of herds.

Blaise and Blasius of Jersey

In England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Blaise was adopted as mascot of woolworkers' pageants, particularly in Essex, Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Norwich. The popular enthusiasm for the saint is explained by the belief that Blaise had brought prosperity (as symbolised by the Woolsack) to England by teaching the English to comb wool. According to the tradition as recorded in printed broadsheets, Blaise came from Jersey. Jersey was certainly a centre of export of woollen goods (as witnessed by the name "jersey" for the woollen textile). However, this legend is probably the result of confusion with a different saint, Blasius of Caesarea ("Caesarea" being also the Latin name of Jersey).

The "Acta" of St. Blaise

The Acts of St. Blaise, written in Greek, do not appear to be authentic. [E.-H. Vollet, in the "Grande Encyclopédie" "s.v." Blaise (Saint))] The legend they contain is as follows:

Blaise, who had studied philosophy in his youth, was a doctor in Sebaste in Armenia, the city of his birth, who exercised his art with miraculous ability, good-will, and piety. When the bishop of the city died, he was chosen to succeed him, with the acclamation of all the people. His holiness was manifest through many miracles: from all around, people came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing. In 316, Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia and of Lesser Armenia, having arrived in Sebastea at the order of the emperor Licinius to kill the Christians, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to prison, a mother set her only son, choking to death of a fish-bone, at his feet, and the child was cured straight away. Regardless, the governor, unable to make Blaise renounce his faith, beat him with a stick, ripped his flesh with iron combs, and beheaded him. ["loc.cit."]

Marijuana Culture

The Feast Day of St. Blaise (February 3rd) is celebrated by some not only as a Catholic holiday, but also as a festival oriented around the adoration of marijuana. The resemblance between "Blaise" and the common marijuana-smoking euphemism “blaze” is the primary reason for the celebration’s date, along with St. Blaise’s throat patronage. This practice originated in the area of Providence, Rhode Island, USA, but is slowly spreading in popularity on both the national and international scene.Fact|date=February 2007

ee also

*Order of Saint Blaise
*San Biagio


External links

* [ Saint Blaise] article in the Patron Saints Index
* [ Saint Blaise] article from
* [ Hieromartyr Blaise of Caesarea in Cappadocia] Orthodox icon and synaxarion

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