‘The Calendar of this portion of the year abounds with Martyrs; and, at the very onset, we meet with one of the most celebrated of these glorious champions of Christ. The scene of his pastoral virtues and his martyrdom, was Sebaste, a city of Armenia, the same that will give us forty martyred soldiers on a single day. The devotion to St Blase is, even to this day, most fervently kept up in the East, especially in Armenia. The Western Churches soon began to love and honour his memory, and so universally, that we might call him one of the most popular of our Saints. His Feast, however, with us, is only a simple, and the Church of Rome has given a mere Lesson on his Life.
Blase, whose signal virtues made him dear to the people of Sebaste in Armenia, was chosen Bishop of that City. When the Emperor Dioclesian waged his cruel persecution against the Christians, the Saint hid himself in a cave on mount Argeus, and there he remained sometime concealed, but was at length discovered by some soldiers of the governor Agricolaus, whilst they were hunting. They led him to the governor, who gave orders that he should be put into prison. During his imprisonment, many sick people, attracted by the reputation of his sanctity, came to him, and he healed them. Among these was a boy, whose life was despaired of by the physicians, on account of his having swallowed a bone, which could not be extracted from his throat. The Saint was twice brought before the governor, but neither fair promises nor threats could induce him to offer sacrifice to the gods. Whereupon, he was first beaten with rods, and then his flesh was torn with iron hooks whilst he lay stretched on the rack. At length, he was beheaded, and nobly gave testimony to the faith of Christ our Lord, on the third of the Nones of February’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, who makest us glad with the yearly festival of blessed Blaise, thy Martyr and Bishop: mercifully grant that, as we now observe his heavenly birthday; so we may likewise rejoice in his protection; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon