By Emily Drooby
Protection for your throat by a blessing performed between two candles is a tradition that can be traced back to the eighth century.
During the Feast of Saint Blaise, the practice was passed down to the younger generation.
On February 3 at Saint Francis of Assisi – Saint Blaise Church in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, hundreds of children from the parish school learned about and took part in the practice.
Why is honoring the saint important? “Because it’s a feast day and we have to do what is according to the Feast Day of St. Blaise,” explained Davon, a student at the school. “That was one of the miracles that he did, that healed a boy.”
The blessing of the throats is a tradition tied to an old story of St. Blaise saving the life of a young child.
“He had a fish bone stuck in his throat and apparently he was going to die and so Blaise apparently healed him,” explained Monsignor Paul Jervis of St. Francis of Assisi – St. Blaise.
Blaise, who was persecuted and killed for his Christian beliefs in the year 316, became known as the patron saint of throat illnesses among other things.
Now people like Valerie Kasden come every year on his feast day for healing.
“I came because I am having some throat issues and my sister said, ‘You really need to go and get that blessing.’ So here I am for it,” she said.
It was her first time receiving the blessing. Her whole family struggles with throat problems. “My sister who goes all the time and gets this blessing, she’s the only one in the family who has not had it,” Valerie explained.
Many younger patrons were also being introduced to St. Blaise for the first time while hearing the saint’s story during Msgr. Jervis’s homily and being blessed.