Today is the feast of St. Blaise which traditionally is the time to get your throats blessed. It was a great tradition in New York City and many would participate in the blessings especially at the height of sore throat season.
Blaise was a doctor first and foremost and became a Bishop and Martyr in Armenia. The legend behind his association with throat ailments is renown. Blaise was a curer of many ailments and people came from far and wide to see him. Legend has it that even wild animals would come in herds to receive healing from him. In Armenia, the governor was ordered to kill all the Christians by the Emperor and on his way to prison a mother sent her only son who was choking on a fish bone to Blaise who cured him straight away. They don’t say how–only that he was cured. Many suspect that Blaise, who was a doctor, did something akin to the heimlich maneuver, much to the delight of the Armenian people.
It didn’t help Blaise, he was beheaded nonetheless and became a martyr rather than renounce his faith which is what he should be more honored for in my humble opinion.
Regardless, throats will be blessed abound and Blaise’s faith as a doctor who could cure illnesses of all kinds should be examined critically–not to merely espouse the man as an extraordinary healer, but perhaps an ordinary healer, like most doctors, who also had great faith in God and depended on centering his life in God for his spiritual well-being, so that he might be better able to care for others. It was that faith that was worth dying for, perhaps over and against his own natural arrogance.
Doctors often tell me that they get arrogant, thinking that they can control life and death in so many instances. Blaise teaches us to avoid that arrogance and to place faith in the one from whom all control over life, death and ultimately our freedom stems from.