Q. Who is St. Blaise, and why do we celebrate his feast with a blessing of throats?
A. St. Blaise (died c. A.D. 316; feast day, February 3) was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred during one of the Roman imperial persecutions of the Church. According to ancient legend, he was born to a wealthy family of the nobility, reared and educated as a Christian, and consecrated a bishop while still young. When the persecution began, God directed him to live in a cave in the mountains.
There, his only visitors were wild beasts, whom he healed when they were sick or wounded. Hunters who were attempting to secure animals for the games in the amphitheater found him there, seized him, and brought him to the local imperial governor. On the way, a woman brought to him a little boy at the point of death from choking on a fishbone. The bishop healed him.
When Blaise refused to deny Christ, the governor had him scourged, tortured, and eventually beheaded. He is known today as the patron saint of wild animals and of people with throat ailments.