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Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise: that he was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and was martyred during the reign of Emperor Licinius in 316 AD. However, over the centuries, various liturgical traditions grew about him and by the sixth century St. Blaise’s intercession was invoked for diseases of the throat.

In accord with these traditions we learn that Blaise was born into a rich noble family and raised a Christian. He became a physician, and was of such virtuous conduct that the clergy and people of Sebaste nominated him to be ordained their bishop.

When the persecution of Christians broke out, the persecutors directed their fury principally against the bishops well knowing that when the shepherd is stricken the flock is dispersed. Listening to the entreaties of the faithful, Bishop Blaise fled to the hills.

One day, men hunting in the mountains discovered a cave surrounded by wild animals. Among them they found Blaise, tending to the sick and wounded animals. Recognizing him as a bishop, the hunters captured him to take him back for trial. On the way, they encountered a woman whose pig was being seized by a wolf. The woman appealed to the bishop and at his command the wolf released the pig, unhurt. Later, when the bishop was sentenced to be starved to death, the woman, in gratitude, sneaked into the prison with food and candles.

Blaise was tortured and imprisoned for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. While in prison, the jailer permitted the holy bishop to receive visitors, and many sick and suffering people came to be healed. One day a woman brought her son who had swallowed a fishbone and was choking. The bishop prayed over the boy and healed him.

Finally, after much torment and deprivation, the bishop was scourged with iron combs and beheaded.

The Church venerates St Blaise as the patron saint of wild animals, wool-combers, and those suffering from throat ailments.

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