St. Blaise

St. BlaiseThough there were few Christians in that pagan city, the bishop labored tirelessly for his flock, encouraging them to stand firm during the fierce persecutions then raging, and visiting the martyrs in prison. 

When the city was stripped of Christians, all of whom had fled or been killed, the bishop, already an old man, withdrew to a cave and devoted himself entirely to prayer.  The wild beasts sensed his sanctity, and gathered around the cave, waiting quietly for him to give his blessing or heal their injuries and ailments.

The persecutors, who had not stopped hunting for the bishop, eventually found his cave, and were amazed to find it like a second Eden, with lions, tigers, bears and wolves grazing peacefully around it. The Saint greeted them cheerfully and told them that he knew from a vision that they were coming for him.

As Blaise was taken back to Sebaste, the peace and gentleness that seemed to radiate from the Saint were enough in themselves to turn many pagan bystanders to faith in Christ. Diseases of men and animals were cured as he walked by. One mother brought him her child, who was choking on a fishbone. The Saint put his hand down the child's throat, took out the fishbone, and prayed to the Lord to restore him to full health. For this reason he is invoked for the cure of throat ailments. 

At his trial, the holy bishop fearlessly confessed Christ and scorned the idols, for which he was savagely beaten and thrown into a dungeon.  The governor condemned him to be drowned in a lake. The Saint made the sign of the Cross at the water's edge and began walking across the surface of the lake as the Savior had done on the Sea of Galilee. On reaching the middle, he invited the pagans to join him, if they believed they could trust themselves to their gods. Sixty-eight of them took up the challenge and drowned, while a bright angel appeared and invited the Saint to return to the shore in order to receive the crown of glory. Then Blaise was executed.

Saint Blaise is one of the most-venerated holy healers in both the East and the West. He is called upon for protection from wild beasts, and for the healing of every kind of ailment especially those of the throat. His relics are kept at a Monastery on Mount Athos.

 

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