Saint Blaise

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Saint Blaise (or Blasius — died circa 316) was a physician and bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. He was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron combs, and beheaded.

St. Blaise is commonly represented with the instrument of his martyrdom, a metal comb. The similarity of this instrument of torture to a wool-carding comb appears to have led to his adoption as patron of those working in the wool trade.

Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses, and his association with the throat has made him the patron saint of interpreters.

Blaise is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik (where he is known as Sveti Vlaho). He is believed to have appeared in a vision in 971 to warn the inhabitants of an impending attack by the Venetians.

His cult became widespread in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. In Italy he is known as San Biagio, and in Cornwall as Saint Blazey.

In England in the 18th and 19th centuries Blaise was adopted as mascot of woolworkers' pageants, particularly in Essex, Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Norwich. The popular enthusiasm for the saint is explained by the belief that Blaise had brought prosperity (as symbolised by the Woolsack) to England by teaching the English to card wool. According to the tradition as recorded in broadsheets, Blaise came from Jersey. Jersey was certainly a centre of export of woollen goods (as witnessed by the name jersey for the woollen textile). However, this legend is probably the result of confusion with a different saint, Blasius of Caesarea (Caesarea being also the Latin name of Jersey).

According to Brand's Popular Antiquities (1813), in areas of the English countryside it was the custom to light bonfires on St. Blaise's feast day, February 3 — evidently inspired by the sound of the English word blaze. A similar sound association appears to have led to his being made the patron saint, in Germany though nowhere else, of wind instruments, bands and their players (German blasen = "to blow").

Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.


Some material in this article was taken from the copyleft article at Wikipedia.