Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Feast of St. Blase

Today is one of my favorite saints days - the Feast of St. Blase. Yes, this is the saint where we have the Blessing of Throats. We will bless throats tomorrow, Sunday, after the 8am and 10am Mass in the Chapel. Below is the Teaching Note for Sunday to let you know about him, and about the custom of blessing throats. Why is he a favorite? Perhaps it is the fond memories of being bundled up as a kid and brought to Church for a special weekday service in February to have my throat blessed - it made a deep impression on me!
St. Blase is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers; which same are certain Saints reputed to have a special power of intercession in heaven on behalf of those in peril or suffering on earth. According to the common tradition, they were all martyrs, except St. Giles. The Seven Holy Helpers are Acaius (against False Accusations), Barbara (Fire and Lightning), Blase (Ailments of the Throat), Catherine of Alexandria (learned peoples), Christopher (travelers), Cyriacus (for Clergy), Denys (mental illness), Erasmus (intestinal problems), Eustace (hunters and those with dangerous jobs), George (soldiers), Giles (good workmen, beggars and cripples), Margaret (the fearful), Pantaleon (those who care for the sick), and Vitus (limb infirmaties).

Devotion to the Holy Helpers is an evidence of belief in the spiritual commonwealth of those on earth with the Saints in Heaven.

The following of St. Blase is widespread because of the blessing of throats on his Feast Day. The legend is that on the eve of his martyrdom, Blasé healed a young man who was dying from having a thorn lodged in his throat. Blasé died in the 316.
From The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Press, 1965 p. 1102.

The Blessing of Throats is a request for God’s healing power through the gift of healing intercession given to St. Blase. Just as many people here on earth exhibit special graces given to them by God the Holy Ghost (healing, teaching, speaking in tongues), so too the Church teaches that some Saints continue that gift in heaven by God’s mercy.