A Foretaste of Heavenly Beauty
- From: Weedy <richarra@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2012 09:59:41 -0800 (PST)
A Foretaste of Heavenly Beauty
Envision the extraordinary brilliance and effects of the light in
sun and moon and stars, in the dark shades of a glade, in the colors
and scents of flowers. Then there is the grandeur of the spectacle of
the sea as it slips on and off its many colors like robes. All
these are mere consolations for us, not the rewards of the blessed.
What can such rewards be like, then, if such things here are so many,
so great, and of such quality?
--St. Augustine-- City of God 22, 24
February 3rd – St. Blaise of Sebaste, Martyr
(also known as Blase, Blasien, Blasius, Biagio)
Died c. 316.
Since the 16th century, the throats of the faithful are blessed on
this day using the sacramental of two crossed or intertwined candles.
I hope this is still customary in all Catholic churches. The reason
for Blaise's patronage of throats is that he reportedly revived a boy
who choked to death on a fishbone (in some versions he raised the
already dead boy). The candles used during the blessing are derived
from the candles brought to Blaise in prison by the grateful mother.
(I also wonder if there is some significance to the candles that were
blessed the day before at Candlemas--Feast of the Presentation--being
used to bless?)
In the acta of Saint Eustratius, who perished in 303 under Diocletian,
it is said that Blaise received his relics, deposited them with those
of Saint Orestes, and executed every article of his last will and
testament. This is all that can be confirmed of Saint Blaise with any
accuracy as there is no evidence of a cultus for Blaise prior to the
8th century. According to Blaise's legendary acta he was born into a
rich and noble family, received a Christian education, and was
consecrated a bishop of Sebaste, Cappadocia (now Armenia), while still
quite young. Blaise was a physician in Sebaste, as well as bishop. As
a doctor Blaise went into every home at all hours of the day and
night, knew both the rich and the poor, comforted, cured, and advised
them all. As a bishop, he did the same thing.
When the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, began
persecuting Christians, Bishop Blaise of Sebaste hid in a cave where
the wild beasts, including lions, tigers, and bears, tended him
because he cared for them whenever they were hurt. His hiding place
was discovered by hunters seeking animals for the amphitheatre, who
observed him curing sick and wounded animals. Because the wild animals
were so tame around him, they thought that Blaise was a wizard and
wanted to present him as such to the governor. As he was being brought
to Governor Agricolaus, a poor woman appealed for help because a wolf
had taken her pig and Blaise persuaded the wolf to release the pig
unharmed. Blaise was presented to the governor, who had him scourged
and decided to starve Blaise to death in prison. But his plans were
thwarted when the grateful woman secretly brought Blaise food and
candles to dispel the darkness of his gloomy prison. When it was
discovered that Blaise was still alive, the governor ordered soldiers
to rake away the saint's skin with a woolcomb, and then Blaise was
This is only one version of Blaise's story. In another he is
repeatedly tortured, but refuses to give in. He is thrown into a
nearby lake, but the waters remain frozen like ice, unwilling to be an
accomplice in the death of this holy man. So, he is finally killed by
the sword. Canterbury claimed his relics, and at least four miracles
were said to have occurred at his shrine, one dated 1451. Parson
Woodforde described a solemn procession in his honor at Norwich on
March 24, 1783 (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson,
Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Sheppard, Tabor, Walsh, White).
In art he is a bishop with a metal comb and a tall candle. Sometimes
he may be shown: (1) with crozier and two candles (no comb); (2)
martyred by being torn with iron combs; (3) in a cave with wild
animals; (4) discovered by hunters, a fawn near him (not to be
confused with the monk, Saint Giles); (5) blessing the birds in front
of a cave; (6) rescuing a poor woman's pig from a wolf; (6) saving the
life of a boy who swallowed a fishbone; or (7) with the city of
Dubrovnik in his hand or being carried over the city by angels
Patronage: against wild beasts, animals, builders, carvers,
construction workers, coughs, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, goiters, healthy
throats, stonecutters, throat diseases, veterinarians, whooping cough,
wool-combers, wool weavers; Guilds of Wool workers;
Because of the cure of a boy's throat when he was choking, throats
blessed at Mass. The priest holds two, unlit blessed candles crossed
petitioners' throats, intoning:
"Per intercessionem S. Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a
quovis alio malo" (May God at the intercession of St. Blasius preserve
you from throat troubles and every other evil).
As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Blaise was much venerated
throughout Central Europe.
Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, Illuminator of the mind, heart and soul, we invoke
You to bring forth Your light, making clear to all the purpose for
which we are called. Bring us the assurance and peace of knowing that
we belong to You, Spirit of the Triune God, and make us susceptible to
your promptings. Grant us the courage and love to act on Your behalf.
Most Divine Advocate Paraclete of Light, descend upon us now making us
mindful of Your most holy presence. Let Your gifts be manifested in
and through us for the edification of Christ's Body the Church, Come
Holy Spirit, Come.
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