BISHOP, MARTYRIt is not known precisely when or where St. Blaise lived, but according to tradition he was a bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, in the early part of the fourth century, and suffered martyrdom under the Roman emperor Licinius, who had commanded the governor of the province, one Agricolaus, to prevent the spread of Christianity in his territory. After this edict had been promulgated, Blaise fled to the mountains and lived in a cave frequented by wild beasts. He used his skill to heal the animals that he found wounded or sick, and when the emperor's hunters, bent on collecting wild animals for the royal games, discovered him in this cave, they carried him off to Agricolaus as a special prize.
On the way, the story goes, they met a poor woman whose pig had been seized by a wolf. At the command of Blaise, the wolf restored the pig to its owner, alive and unhurt. During the course of this journey he also miraculously cured a child who was choking to death on a fishbone. For this reason St. Blaise is often invoked by persons suffering from throat trouble. When he had reached the capital and was in prison awaiting execution, the old woman whose pig he had saved came to see him, bringing two fine wax candles to dispel the gloom of his dark cell. When he was finally killed, he is supposed to have been tortured with an iron comb or rake, and afterwards beheaded. In the West there was no cult honoring St. Blaise prior to the eighth century.