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Feast day of St. Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik

Blaise was one of the most popular saints during the Middle Ages, a key member of the Fourteen Holy Helpers who were great at medical interventions; Blaise's specialty was throat ailments,
and on 03 February there is a special blessing performed where you take two of the candles that were used in the previous day's Candlemas observance (or Le Chandeleur for you crepes connoisseurs) and hold them crossed over the throat of the patient/penitent, while saying a special blessing/incantation.

He is the patron of the city of Dubrovnik going way back to when Ragusa was another rival trading port to Venice, and bits of his corpse are paraded on this day. An avatar of Blaise in the form of a bearded elderly wizard appeared on the city's seal and coinage up until the Napoleonic re-arrangements.

Because Blaise was tortured with metal combs before being beheaded, in addition to being important to Dubrovnik and people with throat problems, he is also the patron of woolworkers, including those in milltowns in England like Jersey. This also means that inventories of his relics spread throughout many churches show that he had at least eight arms, four heads, several jaws, and while they were at it, multiple whole bodies.

Posted by
24834 posts

I see that wikipedia has fallen into the trap of thinking that Jersey is part of England.

Posted by
1853 posts

Thanks Avi for the information. We actually celebrate St. Blaise every year. We get together with others from the Dubrovnik Club here in NY and have dinner at a restaurant called Dubrovnik. We are meeting this Saturday in New Rochelle where restaurants can have 25% capacity. When in Dubrovnik, you can spot statues of St. Blaise all around the city, even on the outside of the wall. We have a painting of him in our home.

Posted by
260 posts

Here in Logroño we also celebrate San Blas. There is a typical food for SB, called the Rosquillos de San Blas. It is similar to a frosted doughnut.

When I was primary schools with the nuns, on the day of San Blas they would take us to the church to get our throats blessed, with candles, as you mentioned. Well fast forward a few decades, and I now had small children, so I thought it would be good to go to the mass for San Blas and have them get their throats blessed, like I did. Well we went down to the evening mass, and it was full of old ladies with plastic shopping bags. They had the mass, and then came time for the blessing. But instead of candles like I remembered, they pulled out a reliquary with one of (many I supposed) fingers of Blas. The old ladies made a line, kissed the reliquary, and then had their shopping bags blessed. Later I found out that they had packages of salt in the bags, and they have it blessed and used it through out the year.

Posted by
2076 posts

We get together with others from the Dubrovnik Club here in NY and have dinner at a restaurant called Dubrovnik.

Although I am not fond of NYC, things like this are only possible in a big city. How fun!

Posted by
5637 posts

The blessing of the throats using the two candles is still done in Catholic churches around here.

Posted by
1853 posts

I’m pretty sure there are more Croats in Chicago and Cleveland then around here. My sister-in-law is from a small island, Olib, in the 80’s almost all the Croats in Astoria, Queens were from this island. If you went to an Italian restaurant in queens, most likely it was owned by Croats. In those days, Yugoslavians.

Posted by
1533 posts

thanks to everyone who shared Blaise-related stories - it's great to see how traditions spread and evolve, how they connect with others and adapt while still providing some continuity with other times and places.
This thread reminds me that there are a few other saints who were popular in parts of Europe that I want to learn more about -- more to come in forum posts!

I'm also reminded of how much I enjoy the various fried dough treats that are associated with different holidays and places in Spain - I hope it's not too controversial for me to say that bunuelos and rosquillos and churros, etc. usually beat out crepes and pancakes!