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St. Blaise, a physician who was tortured

A children's book composes the image of Bishop Blaise seated before his hermit's cave wearing the gold, red and green of robe, tall Bishop's hat and shepherd's staff. Two crossed candles aflame recall his physician background, the patron of veterinarians is depicted surrounded with a wolf, warthog and even a bird on his knee.

For her birthday my daughter was delighted at the zoo. Thanks to pod friends who hosted us to Stone Zoo we ambled around lifting the girls to see even closer the sloth, the macaw parrot, into the miner's barrel where, in a scene made like a mountain mine, a jaguar stalked awaiting his next meal. The snow white owl had our attention when we heard the big cat's growl. 

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. 

Bart Tesoriero writes in Lives of the Saints that Saint Blaise, whose feast day was February 3, fled from persecution of Emperor Diocletian into the hills. A refugee from persecution, the bishop lived as a hermit and used his training as a doctor to tend animals who came to his cave. Discovered and brought to the Roman governor, "who tortured Blaise, but to no avail. Steadfast to the end, Blaise was finally beheaded around the year 316."

The Roman guards responsible for serving the Emperor, whom they worshiped as a god, would have inflicted Blaise, with what form of torture, evidently in hopes he would break down and worship the Emperor Constantine. Though a book for children, the 7th printing version I have of Tesoriero's Lives makes no context around the date of Blaise's beheading. Yet 316 is after the completion of the Arch of Constantine built 312-315 near the Colosseum in Rome to celebrate Constantine's victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge.

Blaise of Sebaste, Bishop and Martyr, died in a persecution under Licinius, the Emperor of the East at the time Constantine was Emperor of the West, who continued to persecute Christians for years after Constantine had stopped that practice in the West.

According to one story, when Blaise was led to the arena to be executed, he was led through bystanders lining the streets. A boy watching in the throng was eating, suddenly choked. Blaise shook off his guards, administered to the boy. His association to throat problems, I first learned when a conservative priest-principal conducted a school-wide assembly for Candlemas, processing with candles and giving blessings under the saint's protection during the cold season to the entire voluntary population.

I pray, humbly, in gratitude to know many peacemakers, if only beholding from afar. As Governments and Empires continue to inflict religious derangement as a form of persecution. Such evidence of religious torture is intolerable, the desecration of belief in the one God, an OUTRAGE. If I am not hoarse in my throat from shouting Basta! Enough!

O God, give strength to our throats. Saint Blaise in your intercession, may we who protest in defiance of torture be renewed in true faith and lasting conviction, true health of solidarity and receive during this pandemic the grace of fellowship that we might not suffer the isolation you endured in your hermitage. Amen.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Bart Tesoriero, Lives of the Saints. Phoenix, AZ: Aquinas Kids, 7th printing 2018 [2012].

James E. Kiefer, "Biographical Sketch of Blaise of Sebaste," <http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/96.html> accessed 26 February 2021.

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