ST. BLAISE, patron saint of throat illnesses
By LINDA M. LINONIS
Priests in the Roman Catholic Church will recite a special prayer as they bless throats during Massess near and on Feb. 3, the Feast Day of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr.
Monsignor Peter M. Polando, rector at St. Columba Cathedral, said St. Blaise lived in the fourth century and was a son of noble parents.
He continued that St. Blaise became a bishop at a young age and served in Sebaste, Armenia.
Monsignor Polando said some accounts note St. Blaise also was a physician. The connection to throats is based on a story that a distraught mother brought her young son to him because he had a fish bone caught in his throat. St. Blaise dislodged the bone and saved the boy’s life.
Over time, St. Blaise became associated with healing of the sick, especially those with illnesses of the throat.
Monsignor Polando said the tradition associated with St. Blaise continues the example set by Jesus in His healing of the sick.
On Holy Tuesday, April 15, at St. Columba, Bishop George V. Murry will celebrate the Chrism Mass at which the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens will be blessed. Each pastor in the six-county diocese will receive Sacred Chrism and oils for use in his parish.
“In the anointing of the sick, we believe the Holy Spirit plays a part,” Monsignor Polando said. “We’re guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
He added that “we all need prayer. We need to pray for one another. Prayer brings us closer together.” The monsignor continued with “we must be sensitive to those who sick.”
He said it’s important to remember that Jesus taught us how to pray. “We can pray for wholeness again. We can share in the power of prayer and share that with one another,” he said.
The monsignor said 40 days after Jesus’ birth, He was presented in the temple. In the Church, candles are blessed “to signify Jesus as the light of the world,” Monsignor Polando said.
When priests bless throats, they use a set of blesssed candles, crossed and slightly open, that are pressed against the throat as the blessing is said. At one time, the candles were lighted, now they are not.
The rector came to the cathedral in March and has served other parishes in the diocese. He has conducted healing services in the spring and fall especially for those 65 and older and those living with an illness. “It focuses on praying for them and their health,” he said.
He also noted priests provide the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Priests anoint with blessed oils and accompanying prayers. This is reserved for those sick and dying.
Monsignor Polando said St. Blaise also is the patron of wild animals. That distinction came about because St. Blaise, who was persecuted, hid in caves inhabited by wild animals. He blessed them and healed their wounds; they did not attack him. St. Blaise was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the fourth century during a persecution of Christians.
Blessing of throats will take place at the cathedral, 159 W. Rayen Ave., at the 12:10 Mass on Monday; 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8 and 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Feb. 9.