St. Blaise’s Day: The Blessing of the Throats

The priest holds the crossed candles up against my throat as I kneel at the altar. They feel cool and waxy; I feel protected. I never realized until today that my mother must have taken me to church on St. Blaise’s Day.

Legend has it that St. Blaise, an Armenian bishop who was martyred in the fourth century, revived a boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. The candles probably were left over from Candlemas the day before.

I had a lot of sore throats. I think my mother may have really believed this might help. I know I did.

This morning I heard the old ’60s song “I’m a Believer”: “I’m a believer, not a trace, of doubt in my mind.” I miss that unquestioning belief of childhood, that they call faith.

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