[DWJ] In which I satisfy the curious (I hope!)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Sep 20 14:54:54 EDT 2006

>Minnow <minnow at belfry.org.uk> wrote:
>  >The name-books can't agree what it means (stammerer, crippled one,
>light-bearer) nor the century in which St. Blaise (an Armenian, or possibly
>not) was around, whether 3rd or 4th. Also they disagree on what he is the
>patron saint of.

Charlie recalled:

>  The Bishop Blaise (or possibly Blaize) was a pub in my home town when I
>was small. Mind you, what wasn't? There were a lot of pubs: 'So drunk he
>must have been to Romsey' was a Hampshire saying. Anyway - just to judge
>from the inn sign, Blaize was intimately involved with sheep. More than
>that I cannot say.

<mode=raised eyebrows>

I don't wish to know that; kindly leave the stage!

You force me to apply to Hugh Farmer's *Oxford Book of Saints*...  I hope
that you appreciate that this involved going downstairs?

According to that, Blaise was

"one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (q.v.)  He was believed to be bishop of
Sebaste in Armenia, and to have been put to death under the Empereor
Lucinius and the prefect Agricolaus in the early 4th century.  There is no
evidence of a cult in either East or West before the 8th century; there are
Greek and Latin Lives of a purely fictitious character.  These make him the
son of rich and noble Christians, very young when consecrated bishop.
During persecution he hid in a cave and blessed sick or wounded animals;
once a woman brought him her boy, who was at the point of death because a
fishbone was stuck in his throat, and whom he healed.  When he was
imprisoned, the same woman brought him food and candles.  Hence at the
blessing of St. Blaise (still practised) sufferers from throat diseases are
blessed by the application of two candles to the throat. [1]  Water with
the blessing of St. Blaise is also given to sick cattle.  He was believed
to have been torn with wool-combs before being beheaded, and was for long
by consequence the patron of wool-combers.  His cult and iconography are
widespread: he is generally depicted with a wool-comb.  Canterbury claimed
relics of him, and at least four miracles were recorded at his shrine, one
dated 1451.  Parson Woodeford described a solemn procession in his honour
at Norwich on 24 March 1783.  Feast: 3 February."

[1] Farmer doesn't say whether these are lighted candles...

So I suppose sheep are a reasonable thing to find hanging about with him on
a pub-sign, even if his Lives are of a purely fictitious character.

Do you like me feel that Farmer is a bit unconvinced about Blaise?  Mind
you, he finds more to say about Blaise than he does about Elphin (date
unknown), the patron of the parish church of Warrington, Lancs, about whom
Farmer remarks only "He has been conjectured to have been Irish or British,
but nothing is known of him."

If Kylie were expecting a boy I would start muttering about it being high
time someone paid some attention to poor ol' Elphin and called a baby after

I am writing on St. Eustace' day -- according to Farmer "a martyr of
unknown date and quite probably no historical existence, patron of hunters
and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers", whose feast was suppressed by the
Holy See in 1969, bad cess to it.  Make that St Vincent Madelgarius' day
instead: Farmer doesn't mention him at all, so he doesn't have a chance say
he doesn't exist any more or never existed in the first place.


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