Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cool Catholic Traditions: Blessing of the Throats

Today is the feast of St. Blaise, a physician who became the bishop of a city called Sabastea in what is now Turkey. He died as a martyr for the faith in AD 316. One ancient story about this holy bishop was that, through him, God miraculously healed a young boy who had a fish bone stuck in his throat. For this reason, the prayers of St. Blaise have long been invoked for those threatened by or suffering from injuries and illnesses of the throat.

For centuries, Catholics have had a custom on St. Blaise's feast day called the "blessing of the throats". During the blessing, the priest holds two candles tied together with a red ribbon in the form of a cross at the throat of the person seeking a blessing and prays: "Through the intersession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

On this very cold day, a blessing of the throat would certainly not be a bad idea. Happy St. Blaise's Day!