Skip to main content

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," <> accessed 26 February 2021.


Popular posts from this blog

Closing Guantánamo: 2021 in Review

7306 days open--and what are we doing about it? It is a credit to a committed coalition of human rights defenders that we have seen bi-annual attention to the issue since Obama left office. A closer look will show some of the minor victories month by month. This year in review is  partial.  Since a year ago, former prisoners of Guantánamo organized their  open letter to President Biden specifying demands --our role has been to amplify that letter.  Jan 11, 2021 Amnesty International publishes " USA Right the Wrong: Guantánamo Decision Time " Jan. 22, 2021 Ahmed Rabbani, still prisoner at Guantánamo has published in UK Independent a letter to Biden :  When I was kidnapped from Karachi in 2002 and sold to the CIA for a bounty with a false story that I was a terrorist called Hassan Ghul, my wife and I had just had the happy news that she was pregnant. She gave birth to my son Jawad a few months later. I have never been allowed to meet my own child. President Biden is a man who s

The Dragon's Story

Once she raised two eggs on a cliff on the moor. Word spread the Dragon had not been seen. Was she gone? Had she taken ill? Who would protect them! Armed bandits were the first to plan their raid on the nearby villagers. First they sent out a search party. As they neared, they saw she was in her lair. "Why are you here? I should ask you," the Dragon said. "I am the dragon but I fly no more. I fly no more yet am the dragon still." They thought she said, "I cannot fly now." They reported she was roosting eggs. That she did not fly. "Were they golden?" "How do you know?" "Is it true they have magic power?" On they talked until they believed it must be worth the risk. Now the Captain was a pious pirate, the best of the lot. He had risen as chief of them having some schooling in him before he ran from home and lettered, he added arithmetic, and map reading, and had made himself useful until he knew several of the seven seas. He was

Crucified Victims and Desecrated Earth

Photo shared by Art Laffin of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker with banner outside the Pentagon Good Friday, April 2, 2021       Today we mourn to mobilize and disrupt modern day crucifixions. (Revised from original script prepared by Art Laffin for vigil at Pentagon).  Crucified Victim #1--Victim of Torture   Jesus was a torture victim who was condemned by religious authorities and executed by the Roman empire. We remember all torture victims, past and present, who have suffered and died from the effects of torture. We remember those prisoners who died at secret U.S. military black sites, as well as the nine men who died at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo.  Last year Djamel Ameziane, a former Guantánamo prisoner, was legally and morally vindicated as the first complaint related to the "war on terror" in which the US was found responsible to a victim of torture, according to  the long awaited decision May 27, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) .      Let us c