Feast of San Biagio: traditions and blessings for the throat

Do you have a sore throat? So San Biagio (known in English as Saint Blaise) is your saint and over the years he has healed so many people that it has given rise to special festivals and ceremonies. He is the patron of many towns such as Anguillara Sabazia. The feast of San Biagio is 3 February.

Little is known about the life of San Biagio. He is a saint known and venerated both in the West and in the East, and in fact his worship is widespread both in the Catholic and in the Orthodox Church.

He was probably born in Sebaste, in Armenia, and spent his youth in his studies, devoting himself especially to medicine. A lover of religious life, at the death of the Bishop of Sebaste he was elected as his successor.

From that moment his life was entirely spent for the good of his faithful. At that time the persecution unleashed by Diocletian was raging in Armenia by the leaders, Lisia and Agricola.

The latter, immediately began a feverish activity in search of Biagio, the bishop of about whom he constantly heard praise. Having learned of the persecution, in order not to leave the faithful without guidance, Biagio took refuge in a cave of Mount Argeo.

For a long time he remained hidden in that solitude, living in constant prayer and continuing to rule the church with secret messages. One day, however, a group of soldiers managed to get to his cave, arrested him and took him to the principal. The journey from the mountain to the city was a real triumph, because the people came to hail him in crowds so much was the veneration.

Among many people came a poor woman in tears who, holding her dying child in her arms, implored the saint to ask God for the healing of her son. A thorn of fish had lodged in his throat and seemed about to choke him at any moment.

Biagio, moved by compassion, raised his eyes to heaven and made the sign of the cross on the sufferer. The child was miraculously healed.

When he arrived in Sebaste, he was led to the judge Agricola who wanted to convince him to renounce religious worship. After refusing, he was beaten with sticks and thrown into prison.

After some time he was again called to court. Increasingly steadfast in the decision not to renounce God, his flesh was torn with iron combs and he was suspended from a tree trunk. He was finally sentenced to be drowned in a lake.

The executioners threw him into the water and while everyone expected to see him drown, Biagio quietly began to walk on the water until he reached the opposite bank. The judge, seeing that he could not otherwise extinguish that prodigious life, had him beheaded. San Biagio is remembered by the church on 3 February.

He is the patron saint of Anguillara Sabazia and of Maratea, where his relics are kept. These arrived at Maratea in 732, when a ship ran aground due to a storm. The inhabitants of the place reached the boat to save the people and found there, as well as the crew, the relics preserved in a marble urn, which was brought to the top of the mountain where it remained guarded.

It is tradition to introduce, in the middle of the liturgical celebration, a special blessing for the “throats” of the faithful, imparted by the parish priest by crossing two candles (in ancient times blessed oil was used). Someone prepares traditional sweets with particular shapes reminiscent of the saint that are blessed by the parish priest and then distributed to the faithful.

Very interesting is the popular tradition of Milan where the family used to celebrate by eating the remains of panettoni left over specially from Christmas.

Guide of Anguillara Sabazia

Anguillara is located on a cliff on the banks of Lake Bracciano and its history is very ancient. During the […]