Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

February 4, 2011

St. Blaise Day

Filed under: Austin,Spasmodic Dysphonia — Janice @ 12:46 am

For us non-Catholics, our list of identifiable Saint days on the calendar is probably limited to Saint Patrick and Saint Valentine. As for identifiable Saints that may or may not have days, we are all pretty clear on Saint Nicholas and we’ve heard a lot about Christopher, Jude, and Michael, though we might not be able to tell you much about them.

I’m doing my part to lift St. Blaise and his feast day, Feb. 3, up to the level of St. Patrick and St. Valentine. When Hallmark offers a Happy St. Blaise Day card, my job is done.

I only heard about St. Blaise when my throat difficulties first began in 2004 or 2005. I don’t know if my best friend Beth told me about it when I first started having troubles or later when I had the diagnosis of spasmodic dysphonia, but I do remember talking about my throat troubles and Beth casually either recommended I go to church on St. Blaise Day or mentioned that he was the saint that helps with throat issues. She grew up in a Catholic family and said that on St. Blaise Day the priest holds two candles to your throat and blesses it.

Even after the diagnosis, I still didn’t have a cure or good answer to my troubles, so when St. Blaise Day, Feb. 3, 2006, rolled around, I decided to check out St. Blaise. The weather was quite different that year from this year, because I walked from the radio station over to the church on the campus of St. Edward’s University, a Catholic school, and went to their noon mass. It was my first Catholic service outside of weddings and funerals. I liked the priest and the service and the message and he talked about St. Blaise and prayed for people with throat problems and colds and diseases, but there was no individual blessing with candles. I felt blessed, but I also felt cheated.

I chickened out in 2007 and thought about St. Blaise Day, but it was raining and it was a Saturday so I didn’t go.

In 2008 I was in Dallas for the weekend (maybe a Superbowl?) and it was a beautiful bright sunny day. I had decided to try the big Catholic church in Coppell, St. Ann’s, for St. Blaise Day. I thought maybe the blessing with the candles was something that got done more when the feast day was on a Sunday. My sister went with me and we sat with about 1000 others in a beautiful modern church through a lot of ceremony and sermonizing, but NO mention of St. Blaise (…that I heard, anyway. One of the priests was foreign and I might not have understood his accent if he mentioned him). We waited through all 1000 people taking communion, hoping for the blessing at the end of the service, but no luck.

Finally, in 2009, I had a good Catholic Austin friend in Denise. She regularly attends lots of the Catholic churches here and was very familiar with their services and told me that if I went to a St. Blaise Day service again and they didn’t bless the throats, I could ask a priest afterward and she was sure that they would do it for me individually. When St. Blaise Day arrived that year, we were working together downtown and she went with me to the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown, the old, historic church. Finally, she’d led me to a service and a priest with the candles and the true blessing. She also taught me that, as a non-Catholic, I didn’t have to stay back and not go to the front of the church for Communion. I could go without taking communion, but still get the blessing by putting my arms crossed across my chest. So I was doubly blessed.

Last year again we went to St. Mary’s downtown (I think anyway, I looked in old diaries and they are sketchy on some of these details).

With this week’s cold weather, I probably would have ditched on St. Blaise if Denise weren’t there to go with me. This time we met at St. Ignatius in South Austin because they have good parking. It is another beautiful church and I liked that their priest had a microphone so you could hear him clearly and he seemed aware that many of us were there on our lunch hour. I didn’t even have to wait in suspense to know if I would get my throat blessing. There were the crossed candles waiting at the front. And the priest early on said he would do the throat blessing first thing in case someone came for that. So I got my throat blessed and then stayed for the rest of the short mass.

What they do, for you non-St. Blaise blessees, is they have a couple of lines coming up to the priest and an assistant priest. You step up and they have two big white candles that are tied together in the middle, forming a cross. They place them to your throat and say a blessing. Before I had no idea what they were saying. This year, I had plenty of time to hear them each several times as the line moved forward. They said it slowly and clearly. Interestingly, they were saying slightly different things. I assumed it was a standard blessing that priests learned, but maybe there is some leeway. The older priest said something about “maladies” in his and the younger one (that blessed me) had diseases and illnesses in his, but no maladies. Either way, they asked for St. Blaise’s intercession to protect my throat. I also went down for the communion blessing (without taking communion). A woman was the Eucharist with the wafers and the wine, but when she saw my crossed arms she dropped the wafer and did a very sweet “Bless you my dear.” It was very comforting. And I like women having roles like that in a church, I must say.

My friend Beth (who started this whole thing) made a comment today about “cafeteria Catholics.” I’m not Catholic so I can’t be accused of that, right? But as I pick and choose the pieces of different religions I observe, I like St. Blaise Day and I like having a Saint watching over my throat.


  1. I’m glad you got your throat blessed and give thanks for the blessing of healing.

    Comment by Pat — February 4, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  2. You next project can be designing a card for St. Blaise Day!!

    Comment by denise — February 5, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  3. Hadn’t thought about St. Blaise in YEARS. It was an event growing up. The first time I was “allowed” to get the throat blessing, I remember worrying about having lit candles around my throat and was glad when I went up for the blessing to see they weren’t flaming!

    Comment by Paula — February 8, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

  4. […] wrote about St. Blaise Day last year and why I go to this Catholic service once a year. I had it in my intentions all this week to again […]

    Pingback by St. Blaise Day 2012 « Janice Williams Loves Austin — February 4, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  5. […] told her how I am the ultimate cafeteria Catholic, as my friend Beth calls me, and my attendance on St. Blaise Day, which is coming up this weekend, by the […]

    Pingback by Part I of my Super Saturday « Janice Williams Loves Austin — January 29, 2013 @ 8:53 am

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