In many Catholic churches throughout the world, today's mass will celebrate today's feast day of Saint Blaise with the Blessing of the Throat. This is an involved rite which takes a whole throat blessing kit, available here.
Saint Blaise was an Armenian physician who became a bishop and who, when persecutions of Christians became common, went to live in a cave. There he was besieged by ill humans and ailing wild animals alike. These were very considerate patients, however, and they never disturbed him when he was at prayer, which is how he was detected by evil hunters--his cave was surrounded by sick beasts, patiently waiting for him to finish praying. I can picture them on little cots, attended by little squirrel nurses, coughing and sneezing and holding their sweet little furry bellies. Quietly.
Anyway, on his way back to the town and his arrest, he was stopped by a farmer whose pig had been eaten by a wolf. This was a strange sort of wolf that didn't run off after its meal, but who stuck around, probably to gloat. Blaise convinced the wolf that he should restore the pig alive to the farmer, which he did.
Further on, a woman came to Blaise with a child who was choking on a fish bone. Blaise cured the child.
Upon arrival in town, Blaise was captured and torn with wool combs and finally beheaded.
The Blessing of the Throat is done by the priest holding two crossed candles against the throat of the supplicant and saying the blessing. Water blessed during the ceremony can be used to heal wild animals.
Saint Blaise is the patron of wool-combers, wild animals, and the wool industry in general and is to be invoked against maladies of the throat. It's interesting to me how many martyrs become the patrons of the professions that utilized the implements of the saint's torture. Saint Elmo comes to mind immediately.
Other saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Anatole, Saint Theodore, Saint Hadelin, and Saint Anschar or Anskar (patron saint of Denmark).
Birthdays: Shelley Berman (1926, Chicago), Blythe Danner (1943, Philadelphia), Nathan Lane (1956, Jersey City).