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For nine years up till July 2010, I was parish priest at St Simon Stock Catholic Church, South Ashford, Kent, England. From July 2010 until June 2011 I was Associate Pastor at St Peter's Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan USA and then Pastor at St Anthony Parish, Gwinn, MI until October 2013. I then transferred to the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon to serve as Director of the Tribunal. And that's what I am currently doing. Since February 2015 I have also been serving as Pastor at St Stephen Parish, South East Portland. I miss "da UP" (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) but love being here in the Pacific North West.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

St Blaise


My homily had several themes today: St Blaise and the blessing of throats, the indulgences available on the occasion of the Lourdes Jubilee, and the forthcoming Lenten Liturgy.

St Blaise was an Armenian bishop and martyr who died around 316. Not much is known about his life the story of which, inevitably, has been embelished by legends. But who's to say they're not true!

When he was imprisoned, it is said that wild animals came to him to be cured. So there arose the tradition of bringing holy water to and invoking the blessing of St Blaise upon sick cattle.

Also, a mother brought her son who was choking from a fish bone stuck in his throat. Blaise cured the choking lad and restored him to his mother, who came back to the cell with food and candles for Blaise. And so St Blaise's intercession is invoked for relief from afflictions of the throat.

Before being beheaded, Blaise's skin was stetched using a wool-comb, which wasn't very civilised! So he is also the patron of wool-combers.
The tradition is to receive a blessing with candles blessed on Candlemas the previous day. So after Mass today, all who wished came forward to receive a blessing.

The priest (or other minister) holds the candles under the chin of the person being blessed and recites the following formula:

Through the intercession of St Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A priest or deacon makes the sign of the Cross over the person as he invokes the Name of the Trinity.

Given the large numbers, I enlisted the assitance of parish MC Guy Beresford and Reader/Extraodinary Minister of Communion John Barton, and made sure to get a blessing myself.
Some pics:

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4 Comments:

Blogger Victoria said...

What do people say if they have had their throats blessed and come down with a nasty throat problem?

11:35 pm  
Blogger Fr John Boyle said...

The very question I addressed in my homily. It's about putting ourselves under God's blessing. Whether or not we are spared these afflictions must be left up to God - rather as people who go to Lourdes leave it up to God to decide whether or not it's for their good and His glory that they be cured.

If there is any blessing going, I'm happy to take it. I need all the blessings I can get - and if I get a sore throat perhaps the Lord will bless me in some other way or even through the affliction.

11:55 pm  
Anonymous Gregor said...

Oh, Father, that's the top picture is the statue of St. Blaise from Vierzehnheiligen, isn't it? One of my all-time-favourite churches.
Also, at least here in Germany and Austria, the candles are lighted while giving the blessing.
I made a quick search for the reason for this difference, and found the following: "Depuis un demi-siècle, on utilise habituellement des cierges éteints pour cette cérémonie, pour éviter des inconvénients qui risqueraient de réduire la dévotion. Antérieurement, il semble qu'on utilisait des cierges allumés dont la longueur était suffisante pour ne pas ajouter aux maux de gorge des brûlures de chevelure." Apparently, here in central Europe, the older custom was maintained.

12:02 am  
Blogger Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Many years ago, I knew a priest who had a heavy cold, but carried on regardless with the ceremony of the blessing of throats.

The next day, he (briefly) lost his voice !

His reaction was merely to remark that, if anything, it showed the dear Lord has a sense of humour.

2:54 pm  

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