St. Blase died around 316 and was a bishop, physician and martyr who is the patron saint of throats.
He was the bishop of Sebaste, Turkey. When the persecutions started under Emperor Diocletian (284-305), Blase took refuge in a cave, where he cared for wild animals.
Years later, hunters found him and took him to Governor Agricolaus of Cappadocia and Lower Armenia during the persecution of Emperor Licinius Licinianus (308-324). Blase was tortured with iron rods and beheaded.
The custom of blessing throats on his feast day is taken from Blase’s healing of a young boy who had a fish bone stuck in his throat. The candles used in the ceremonies are commemoratives of the candles brought to Blase in prison by the boy’s mother.
Many other miraculous events are recorded as part of Blase’s legends. He is patron saint of doctors, builders, wind musicians, tailors, stone carvers, wool dealers, cattle, tanners, plasterers, pets, hat makers, shoemakers, hosier workers and weavers.
He is invoked against neck and throat complaints and his relics are in Brunswick, Mainz, Lubeck, Trier and Cologne, Germany; in Taranto, Milan and Rome, Italy; in Paray-le-Monial, France; and in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
His feast day is Feb. 3.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has one parish named in the saint’s honor. St. Blase Parish, located at the intersection of 61st Place and 75th Avenue in Argo, was founded as a Polish parish in 1924. It was separated from St. Joseph Parish in Summit.
Information on St. Blase came from the “Encyclopedia of Catholic Saints.”