The eve of Saint Blaise

The eve of Saint Blaise

Today is Candlemas, when the Catholic Church blesses the candles to be used during its liturgy. Tomorrow is the feast-day of Saint Blaise, patron of ailments of the throat. Some churches still do the Blessing of the Throat, in which the priest uses the newly-blessed candles to bless the throats of congregants.



Saints become patrons in peculiar ways. Clare had a vision on the wall in front of her and became the patroness of television. Joseph of Cupertino levitated helplessly, yelping and crying, and became the patron of aviators. Blaise miraculously made a child cough up a fishbone, thus making him Mister Throat.




The Church asks and answers the question: Why doesn’t God always cure ailments of the throat, even if you pray for it? Why doesn’t he cure everything, while he’s at it? It’s a mystery.




Mystery schmystery. It’s still a pretty good question.




Disclosure: Partner gave a Saint Blaise medal last year, which I carry with me religiously, you should pardon the expression.




What could it hurt?



Catholics have an entire pantheon of saints to cover just about every contingency.  The attributions get pretty comical at times.   My name-saint, Lawrence, for example, was burnt to death on a gridiron; he is, therefore, usually shown holding what looks like a barbecue grill, and he is the patron saint of cooks and chefs.



Isn’t that lovely?



Then there’s Joseph of Cupertino, who may or may not have been mentally challenged, but who apparently levitated around the monastery, although he didn’t really enjoy it very much.  Of whom is he the patron?  Why, pilots and aviators, of course!



And Clare of Assisi, the onetime girlfriend of Saint Francis, who lay on her sickbed longing to see Francis perform the Mass, and who had a vision of it on the wall of her cell.  And of what is she the patroness?  Television.




What about Isidore of Seville (one of four siblings, all of whom were proclaimed saints)?  Why, he’s the patron of the Internet.  (He wrote a book called “The Etymologies,” a pre-Internet collection of information more or less like a database.)



For a long time I carried a medal of Saint Dymphya on my keychain.  Dymphna was an Irish maiden whose father lusted after her; she fled to Belgium, but her papa chased her and lopped her head off.  The church dedicated to her in Belgium cared for the mentally infirm, and the water from Dymphna’s well guaranteed peace of mind. 



She is the patroness of those with mental illness.



(Why do I care about all this?  I stopped being a card-carrying Catholic a while back.  But I am still fascinated by these things.)



(Do I still have my Saint Dymphna medal, I wonder?  It couldn’t hurt to carry it with me.  Because you never know.)



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