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blessing the throats


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A service at some Roman Catholic churches and the occasional high Anglican church which takes place every year on St Blaise's Day (3 February) is known as ‘Blessing the throats’. The priest takes two candles, blesses them, ties them together with red ribbon to form a cross, and lights them. He then places the candles across the throats of anyone who wants the special blessing, reciting words which mention Blaise removing a fishbone from a child's throat. This process is certainly old, as Scot (1584: book 12, chapter 14) reports it as ‘a charm in the Popish church’. The best-known modern venue is the church of St Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn, London, where the ceremony has been performed since its introduction in 1876 (The Times (4 Feb. 1928), 9).


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