Blaise (Armenian: Սուրբ Վլասի, Soorp Vlasi; Greek:
Άγιος Βλάσιος, Agios Vlasios; also known as Saint Blase),
was a physician, and bishop of Sebastea in historical
Sivas, Turkey). According to the Acta Sanctorum, he was martyred by
being beaten, attacked with iron combs, and beheaded. He is the patron
saint of wool combers. In the Latin Church his feast falls on 3
February, in the Eastern Churches on 11 February.
3 The Acts of St. Blaise
4 The blessing of St. Blaise
6 Cult of Saint Blaise
6.1 In Great Britain
6.2 In Croatia
6.3 Blaise and Blasius of Jersey
8 See also
10 External links
The first reference we have to him is in manuscripts of the medical
writings of Aëtius Amidenus, a court physician of the very end of the
5th or the beginning of the 6th century; there his aid is invoked in
treating objects stuck in the throat.
Marco Polo reported the place where "Messer
Saint Blaise obtained the
glorious crown of martyrdom", Sebastea; the shrine near the citadel
mount was mentioned by
William of Rubruck
William of Rubruck in 1253. However, it
appears to no longer exist.
From being a healer of bodily ailments,
Saint Blaise became a
physician of souls, then retired for a time to a cavern where he
remained in prayer. As bishop of Sebastea, Blaise instructed his
people as much by his example as by his words, and the great virtues
and sanctity of the servant of God were attested by many miracles.
From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily
and spiritual ills. He is said to have healed animals (who came to
the saint on their own for his assistance) and to have been assisted
In 316, the governor of
Cappadocia and Lesser
Armenia Agricolaus began
a persecution by order of the Emperor
Saint Blaise was
seized. After his interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried
off to prison, and subsequently beheaded.
The Acts of St. Blaise
Saint Blaise at Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc.
The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. The
Acts of St. Blaise, written in Greek, are medieval.
The legend as given in the
Grande Encyclopédie 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 Sebastia at the order of the emperor
Licinius to kill the
Christians, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to jail, 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.
The blessing of St. Blaise
Main article: Blessing of the Throats
According to the Acts, while Blaise was being taken into custody, a
distraught mother, whose only child was choking on a fishbone, threw
herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her
grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.
Saint Blaise is invoked for protection against injuries
and illnesses of the throat.
In many places on the day of his feast the blessing of St. Blaise is
given: two burning candles, blessed on the feast of the Presentation
of the Lord ("candlemas"), are held in a crossed position by a priest
over the heads of the faithful or the people are touched on the throat
with them. At the same time the following blessing is given: "May
Almighty God at the intercession of St. Blaise,
Bishop and Martyr,
preserve you from infections of the throat and from all other
afflictions". Then the priest makes the sign of the cross over the
As the governor's hunters led Blaise back to Sebastea, on the way, the
story goes, they met a poor woman whose pig had been seized by a wolf.
At the command of Blaise, the wolf restored the pig to its owner,
alive and unhurt. When he had reached the capital and was in prison
awaiting execution, the old woman whose pig he had saved came to see
him, bringing two fine wax candles to dispel the gloom of his dark
cell. In the West there was no cult honoring St. Blaise prior to the
Cult of Saint Blaise
The Fourteen Holy Helpers.
One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Blaise became one of the most
popular saints of the Middle Ages. His cult became widespread in
Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries and his legend is recounted in
the 14th-century Legenda Aurea.
Saint Blaise is the saint of the wild
He is the patron of the Armenian Order of Saint Blaise. In
Italy he is
known as San Biagio. In Spanish-speaking countries, he is known as San
Blas, and has lent his name to many places (see San Blas). Several
Brazil are also named after him, where he is
called São Brás (see São Brás).
In Italy, Saint Blaise's remains rest at the Basilica over the town of
Maratea, shipwrecked there during Leo III the Isaurian's iconoclastic
Many German churches, including the former Abbey of St. Blasius in the
Black Forest and the church of
Balve are dedicated to Saint
In Great Britain
Cornwall the village of
St Blazey derives from his name, where the
parish church is still dedicated to Saint Blaise. Indeed, the council
Oxford in 1222 forbade all work on his festival. 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 Oxfordshire), 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 vice admiral on board 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".
There is a
St. Blaise's Well
St. Blaise's Well In Bromley, Kent  where the water was
considered to have medicinal virtues. St Blaise is also associated
Stretford in Lancashire. A
Blessing of the Throats
Blessing of the Throats ceremony is
held on February 3 at
St Etheldreda's Church
St Etheldreda's Church in London and in Balve,
Bradford, West Yorkshire
Bradford, West Yorkshire a
Roman Catholic middle school named after
St Blaise was operated by the Diocese of Leeds from 1961 to 1995. The
name was chosen due to the connections of Bradford to the woollen
industry and the method that St Blaise was martyred, with the
woolcomb. Due to reorganisation the school closed down when Catholic
middle schools were phased out, and the building was sold to Bradford
Council to provide replacement accommodation for another local middle
school which had burned down. Within a few months, St Blaise school
was also severely damaged in a fire, and the remains of the building
were demolished. A new primary school was built on the land, and most
of the extensive grounds were sold off for housing.
14th Century wall painting of St Blaise in All Saints Church in
Kingston upon Thames, UK
There is a 14th-century wall painting in All Saints Church, Kingston
upon Thames, located by the market place, marking the significance of
the wool trade in the economic expansion of the market town in the
14th and 15th centuries.
Church of St. Blasius in Dubrovnik
Saint Blaise (Croatian: Sveti Vlaho or Sveti Blaž) is the patron
saint of the city of
Dubrovnik 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
Gruž 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
Blaise and Blasius of Jersey
England in the 18th and 19th 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
England by teaching the English to comb wool. According
to the tradition as recorded in printed broadsheets, Blaise came from
Jersey, Channel Islands.
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
Blasius of Caesarea (Caesarea being also the
Latin name of Jersey).
In iconography, Blaise is represented holding two crossed candles in
his hand (the Blessing of St. Blaise), or in a cave surrounded by wild
beasts, as he was found by the hunters of the governor. He is often
shown with the instruments of his martyrdom, steel 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 are used for the blessing of throats on his feast
day, which falls on 3 February, the day after
Candlemas on the General
Roman Calendar. Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases
of throat illnesses, especially for fish-bones stuck in the
Order of Saint Blaise
San Biagio (other)
Blessing of the Throats
^ A World History of Tax Rebellions: An Encyclopedia of Tax Rebels,
Revolts from Antiquity to Present By David F. Burg
^ a b Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Blaise." The Catholic Encyclopedia.
Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 3 Feb. 2013
^ Marco Polo, Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian (1260-1295), I, ch.
^ William Woodville Rockhill, ed., tr.The Journey of William of
Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55 1900:276.
^ a b "Life of St. Blaise,
Bishop and Martyr", Colegio de Santa
Catalina Alejandria Archived February 19, 2012, at the Wayback
^ a b Foley O.F.M., Leonard, "Saint Blaise", Saint of the Day, Lives,
Lessons, and Feasts, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan
Media ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
^ Vollet, E. H.,
Grande Encyclopédie s.v. Blaise (Saint); published
in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca "Auctarium", 1969, 278, col. 665b.
^ "St. Blaise, Martyr", Lives of Saints, John J. Crawley & Co.,
^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911: "Blaise".
^ Lysons, Daniel The Environs of London (Vol. 4), p307-323 (pub. 1796)
- "British history online" (website).
^ The formula for the blessing of throats is: "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 St. Blaise, bishop and
martyr, may God free you from illness of the throat and from any other
sort of ill. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Blaise.
Saint Blaise article from Catholic.org
Hieromartyr Blaise of Sebaste
St. Blaise's life in Voragine's Golden Legend: Latin original and
English (English from the Caxton translation)
Saint Blaise at the Christian
Iconography web site.
Novena in Honor of St. Blaise
The Fourteen Holy Helpers
Catherine of Alexandria
Margaret the Virgin