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One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He was believed to be bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, and to have been put to death under the Emperor Licinius and the prefect Agricolaus in the early 4th century. There is no evidence of a cult in either East or West before the 8th century; there are Greek and Latin Lives of largely fictitious character. These make him the son of rich and noble Christians, very young when consecrated bishop. During persecution he hid in a cave and blessed sick or wounded animals; once a woman brought him her boy, who was at the point of death because a fishbone was stuck in his throat, and whom he healed. When he was imprisoned, the same woman brought him food and candles. Hence at the blessing of St Blaise (still practised) sufferers from throat diseases are blessed by the application of two candles to the throat. Water with the blessing of St Blaise is also given to sick cattle. He was believed to have been torn with wool-combs (his iconographical emblem) before being beheaded, and was for long by consequence the patron of wool-combers. Canterbury claimed relics of him, and at least four miracles were recorded at his shrine, one dated 1451. Parson Woodforde described a solemn procession in his honour at Norwich on 24 March 1783. Feast: 3 February.

AA.SS. Feb. 1 (1658), 331–5 (cf. Anal. Boll., lxxviii (1960), 443);J. Wickham Legg and W. H. St John Hope (edd.), Inventories of Christ Church, Canterbury (1902), pp. 29–30. J. Woodforde, The Diary of a Country Parson (ed. J. Beresford, 1956), pp. 198–200;B.L.S., ii. 34–5.

Subjects: Christianity.

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