Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saint Blaise

Saint Blaise (or Blasius)

Blaise was an Armenian Bishop who was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron carding combs, and beheaded. He is often depicted showing the implements of his torture, the iron carding combs. These have been misinterpreted, predictably enough, and he has become the patron saint of the wool trade(!). The similarity of the torture devices and the wool carding tool are pretty obvious- have a look here. In the book Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs there is mention of a similar device, an iron currycomb which was used to tear the flesh.

The Jewish encyclopedia also mentions this method in the tale of the Ten Martyrs: "The third victim was Akiba, whose flesh was torn off with a carding-implement."

I imagine these implements would have a similar effecton the flesh as Freddy Krueger's custom made gardening gloves, hence my dishevelled interpetation of Blaise here.

The legends attributed to Blaise are many, he was said to live in the woods curing wild animals, and he is regarded as a patron saint of wild animals by some. He was also said to have walked on water among other miracles.

Blaise, according to legend, saved a boy from choking on a fish bone and he has subsequently become associated with a cure for throat ailments. Crossed candles are used for the blessing of throats on the feast day of St. Blaise, which falls on February 3, the day after Candlemas on the Catholic calendar of saints.

"Per intercessionem Sancti Blasii liberet te Deus a malo gutteris et a quovis alio malo." (May God at the intercession of Saint Blaise preserve you from throat troubles and every other evil)