Blessing of the Throats

“Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Blessing of St. Blaise).

Many Catholics today will attend Mass and participate in the traditional Blessing of the Throats, in honor of St. Blaise, a third century physician and bishop.

According to legend, Blaise was born in Armenia into a noble family and raised as a Christian. When a new round of persecution began, Blaise fled to the hills to escape. There, he befriended the wild animals — wolves, lions, and bears. One day a group of hunters recognized him and captured him, intending to turn him in to the governor for trial. On the way, a woman brought him her son, who had a fish bone caught in his throat. Blaise prayed over the boy, and the bone dislodged, saving him from certain death.

When the governor attempted to get Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols, Blaise refused. First he was beaten, then tortured, and finally beheaded.

The Feast of St. Blaise is celebrated around the world. Some Eastern Churches consider his feast a holy day; Germans and Slavs, in particular, hold him in special honor.

The Blessing of the Throats is a sacramental of the Church. Like Rosaries or genuflecting, sacramentals are Church-instituted objects or actions that work through the power and prayers of the Church to drive away the evil spirit.

Traditionally, the Blessing of the Throats will be performed at the conclusion of Mass.

The priest (often with several lay assistants) takes two blessed unlit candles, usually tied in a V-shape with a red ribbon, and lays them at the throat of each congregant, reciting the words of the blessing at the top of this post.

A simple and quick ceremony, but one that’s effective, particularly at this time of year when respiratory illnesses are rampant!

Blaise is the patron saint of wild animals and of those with throat maladies. When we seek his intercession, we should remember to ask for God’s protection not just against physical throat disorders (sore throats and colds, for example), but also for spiritual help (avoiding profanity, gossip, etc.) As St. James told us, “If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is self-deceived; his worship is pointless.” (1:26)

The Blessing of the Throats is one ritual I try not to miss. How about you?

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20 thoughts on “Blessing of the Throats

    • As time marches forward, we Catholics tend to let lapse some of our rituals (more’s the pity!), but some of us at least still cling to the old traditions. Thanks for wading through this one with me!

  1. I had never heard of this ceremony–Interesting that it falls the day after Candlemas which in Pagen tradition is “cleansing.” A healer that loves animals—what a wonderful ritual and so appropriate for this time of year!

    • Thanks for reading, Katybeth. I suspect the Church purposely chose the day after Candlemas for this ritual (they did that a lot!). I love that St. Blaise was so close with the animals, even living among them in a cave!

    • I’ve often wondered how health care workers stay healthy when they’re exposed to sick people all the time — I guess it’s just like it is with moms of small children, they just develop immunity. Glad you enjoyed reading about our tradition!

    • Thanks, Monica. I realize not everybody who reads my blog is Catholic and familiar with our rituals; therefore, every once in a while, I feel called to do a post on one or another. I’m glad you found it interesting.

    • Aw, Hipster is ailing? I’m sorry to hear that. Fell better soon, okay? It’s that time of year when so many colds and viruses are floating around — maybe that’s why the Church chose February as the month to celebrate this saint?!

  2. Debbie, Thank you for this lovely refresher about Saint Blaise and our Catholic rituals. So timely for me as I’m certain I contracted a cold from Mass last Sunday when everyone around me was coughing :-)

    • Kathy, I know just what you mean! In fact, the priest at our church dispenses with the Sign of Peace during cold and flu season annually, just for that reason! Of course, we still take Communion under the Blood, so I don’t know how shaking hands is different, but what do I know?! Feel better soon, my friend!

  3. Debbie, I’m with Kathleen. Thanks for the refresher regarding Saint Blaise. I miss attending mass for this type of ritual. Currently, I go to church and sit through mass in a language I don’t understand. Thank goodness I know enough about the ceremony to repeat prayers in English. The closest church that holds mass in English is three bus rides away, while the local church is just three blocks from my home. I will share your post with my mother, a devout Catholic, who I’m sure will say, “Debbie is doing what a responsible Catholic is expected to do.” Hint, hint for me! :)

    • Bella, I didn’t realize you, too, are Catholic! That just gives us one more thing in common, my sister! We here don’t realize the hoops people in other parts of the world must jump through, just to practice their religion. How brave of you to try to keep up with the traditions even when you don’t understand the wording! And tell your mom at least you’re trying, right?!

  4. I was raised in a very strict Catholic family. Our Catholic faith was present every day of our lives, or so it seemed. So I find it really strange that I’ve never heard of this blessing. Of course, it could be that my memory is really going, or that I just didn’t pay enough attention! :-)

    • Terri, I’m blown away that you’ve never heard of the Blessing of the Throats on St. Blaise Day! I grew up with this tradition. As little kids in Catholic school, we always got our throats blessed on this date. It’s not just our parish, either, for I did an Internet search and found lots of other parishes do it (though, sadly, some are opting out of it). It’s such a wonderful feeling, both physically and spiritually, to experience!

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