Blaise of Sebaste, St.

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Bishop and martyr under the Emperor Licinius; b. Sebaste, Armenia; d. c. 316. According to legend, during persecution he withdrew from his bishopric of Sebaste to a cave, remaining until he was discovered in a hunt for beasts. Agricolaus, Governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, had him tortured and later beheaded for his faith. In prison he healed a boy with a fishbone stuck in his throat. Blaise had become the patron of throat diseases in the East by the 6th century, and in the West by the 9th century. He became one of the fourteen holy helpers. The blessing of throats with candles began in the 16th century, when his cult was at its peak. He is the patron of the city of Ragusa and also of many tradesmen, including woolcarders (the iron comb was an instrument of his tortures). He is invoked to protect animals against wolves and to bring fair weather. His feast day was observed in the West on February 15 until the 11th century; it is celebrated on February. 11 in the East, bringing winter to a close.

Feast: Feb. 3

Bibliography: r. janin, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillat et al. (Paris 1912) 9:69. p. wiertz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 2:525526. m. c. celletti, Biblioteca sanctorum (Rome 1961) 3:158165.

[m. j. costelloe]