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Ordinary Time: February 3rd

Optional Memorial of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr; St. Ansgar, bishop

Daily Readings for: February 03, 2014
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Hear, O Lord, the supplications your people make under the patronage of the Martyr Saint Blaise, and grant that they may rejoice in peace in this present life, and find help for life eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


O God, who willed to send the Bishop Saint Ansgar to enlighten many peoples, grant us, through is intercession, that we may always walk in the light of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: St. Blaise

St. Blaise enjoyed widespread veneration in the Eastern and Western Churches due to many cures attributed to him. According to tradition, he was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and was martyred under Licinius. On this day the Church gives a "Blessing of the Throats" in honor of St. Blaise. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat.


St. Ansgar became known as the "Apostle of the North" for his great evangelical work in Denmark and Sweden. He was Bishop of Hamburg and then of Bremen. Gregory IV appointed him as his delegate to Denmark and Sweden.


St. Blaise
St. Blaise was a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus and was a healer of men and animals. According to legend, sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him at prayer.

Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games, and found many waiting outside Blaise's cave. Discovered in prayer, Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day.

Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs (which led to his association with and patronage of those involved in the wool trade), and then beheading.

Blaise has been extremely popular for centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches and many cures were attributed to him, notably that of a child who was suffocating through a fish bone being caught in his throat. In 1222 the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labour in England on his feast. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is invoked for all throat afflictions, and on his feast two candles are blessed with a prayer that God will free from all such afflictions and every ill all those who receive this blessing.

— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch



It is customary in many places to bless the throats of the faithful with two candles tied together with a red ribbon to form a cross. The rite of the blessing of throats may take place before or after Mass.

The priest or deacon places the candles around the throat of whoever seeks the blessing, using the formula: "Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen."

— Excerpted from Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year

Patron: Against wild beasts; animals; builders; carvers; construction workers; coughs; Dalmatia; Dubrovnik; goiters; healthy throats; stonecutters; throat diseases; veterinarians; whooping cough; wool-combers; wool weavers.

Symbols: 2 candles; 2 crossed candles; candle; hermit tending wild animals; iron comb; man healing a choking boy; man with two candles; wax; wool comb.

Things to Do:


St. Ansgar
The "apostle of the north" (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a saint—and he did. He became a Benedictine at Corbie, France, where he had been educated. Three years later, when the king of Denmark became a convert, Ansgar went to that country for three years of missionary work, without noticeable success. Sweden asked for Christian missionaries, and he went there, suffering capture by pirates and other hardships on the way. Less than two years later he was recalled, to become abbot of New Corbie (Corvey) and bishop of Hamburg. The pope made him legate for the Scandinavian missions. Funds for the northern apostolate stopped with Emperor Louis's death. After thirteen years' work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen; Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.

He directed new apostolic activities in the North, traveling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another king. By the strange device of casting lots, the king of Sweden allowed the Christian missionaries to return.

Ansgar's biographers remark that he was an extraordinary preacher, a humble and ascetical priest. He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table. He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.

Sweden became pagan again after his death, and remained so until the coming of missionaries two centuries later.

— Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Patron: Denmark; Scandinavia; Sweden.

Symbols: Wearing a fur pelise; holding the Catheral of Hamburg.

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