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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 Armenia
Armenia
(modern 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.[2]

Contents

1 Sources 2 Life 3 The Acts of St. Blaise 4 The blessing of St. Blaise 5 Legend 6 Cult of Saint Blaise

6.1 In Great Britain 6.2 In Croatia 6.3 Blaise and Blasius of Jersey

7 Iconography 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Sources[edit] 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
Marco Polo
reported the place where "Messer Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom", Sebastea;[3] the shrine near the citadel mount was mentioned by William of Rubruck
William of Rubruck
in 1253.[4] However, it appears to no longer exist. Life[edit] From being a healer of bodily ailments, Saint Blaise
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.[5] He is said to have healed animals (who came to the saint on their own for his assistance) and to have been assisted by animals. In 316, the governor of Cappadocia
Cappadocia
and Lesser Armenia
Armenia
Agricolaus began a persecution by order of the Emperor Licinius
Licinius
and Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
was seized. After his interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison,[5] and subsequently beheaded. The Acts of St. Blaise[edit]

Statue of Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
at Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc.

The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later.[6] 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
Cappadocia
and of Lesser Armenia, having arrived in Sebastia at the order of the emperor Licinius
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.[7]

The blessing of St. Blaise[edit] 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. Consequently, Saint Blaise
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
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 faithful. Legend[edit] 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 eighth century.[8] Cult of Saint Blaise[edit]

The Fourteen Holy Helpers.

One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Blaise became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages.[2] 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
Saint Blaise
is the saint of the wild beast. He is the patron of the Armenian Order of Saint Blaise. In Italy
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 places in Portugal
Portugal
and Brazil
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 persecutions. Many German churches, including the former Abbey of St. Blasius in the Black Forest
Black Forest
and the church of Balve
Balve
are dedicated to Saint Blaise/Blasius. In Great Britain[edit] In Cornwall
Cornwall
the village of St Blazey
St Blazey
derives from his name, where the parish church is still dedicated to Saint Blaise. Indeed, the council of Oxford
Oxford
in 1222 forbade all work on his festival.[9] There is a church dedicated to Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
in the Devon
Devon
hamlet of Haccombe, near Newton Abbot
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
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 [10] where the water was considered to have medicinal virtues. St Blaise is also associated with Stretford
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, Germany. In Bradford, West Yorkshire
Bradford, West Yorkshire
a Roman Catholic
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. In Croatia[edit]

Church of St. Blasius in Dubrovnik

Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
(Croatian: Sveti Vlaho or Sveti Blaž) is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik
and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa. At Dubrovnik
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
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
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 Napoleonic era. Blaise and Blasius of Jersey[edit] In England
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 Woolsack) to England
England
by teaching the English to comb wool. According to the tradition as recorded in printed broadsheets, Blaise came from Jersey, Channel Islands. 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
Blasius of Caesarea
(Caesarea being also the Latin name of Jersey). Iconography[edit] 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.[6] 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
Candlemas
on the General Roman Calendar. Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses, especially for fish-bones stuck in the throat.[11] See also[edit]

Order of Saint Blaise San Biagio (other) Blessing of the Throats

References[edit]

^ 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. 46. ^ 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
Bishop
and Martyr", Colegio de Santa Catalina Alejandria Archived February 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ 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., Inc. ^ 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 Ghost. Amen.)

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Blaise.

Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
article from Catholic.org Hieromartyr
Hieromartyr
Blaise of Sebaste St. Blaise's life in Voragine's Golden Legend: Latin original and English (English from the Caxton translation) Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
at the Christian Iconography
Iconography
web site. Novena in Honor of St. Blaise

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Acacius Barbara Blaise Catherine of Alexandria Christopher Cyriacus Denis Elmo Eustace George Giles Margaret the Virgin Pantaleon Vitus

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 88762504 LCCN: n86062

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