Hebrews 13.1-8; Psalm 26; Mark 6.14-29
Blaise (who died around the year 316) was born in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey) of noble, well-to-do parents. He became Bishop of Sebastia (now called Sivas, Turkey) during the persecution of Christians carried out by the Roman Emperor Licinius. Blaise was arrested and imprisoned and during his imprisonment he was visited by a mother and her son, who was choking on a fishbone. At Blaise’s blessing the bone dissolved and the boy was rescued. After being tortured with wool-combers’ irons Blaise was beheaded.
Apocryphal legends have it that Blaise had been renowned as a surgeon before his ordination and numerous stories were told of miraculous cures he effected on wild beasts. He is venerated as the patron of sufferers from throat disease and is accounted one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers whose intercession was particularly invoked during the 14th-Century ravages of the black death pandemic. It is customary in many places to bless throats on this feast, using candles blessed the previous day at the Candlemas celebration.