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"Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." — Prayer from the Blessing of the Throats
Normally, during this Mass throats are blessed through the intercession of St. Blaise. Two blessed candles are tied together with a red ribbon in the form of a cross and pressed against the throat for a blessing. The red ribbon represents the blood of martyrs, and the candles held in the shape of an “X” represent the martyrdom of St. Andrew, who, according to tradition, was crucified on an X-shaped cross.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor addressed the blessing of throats in a letter to priests, deacons and seminarians Jan. 13, 2021. He wrote: “current circumstances offer sufficient pastoral reason to avoid administration of the blessing to individuals in the usual manner.” The Book of Blessings states, “If, for pastoral reason, each individual cannot be blessed … a priest or deacon may give the blessing to all assembled by extending hands, without the crossed candles, over the people while saying the prayer of blessing.”
St. Blaise was the fourth-century bishop of Sebastea, Armenia. He was martyred for the faith in 316 A.D. He is the patron saint of throat ailments. Legend holds that he saved the life of a boy who was choking on a fish bone. As early as the ninth century in the Western Church, he was invoked for throat ailments, and by the 15th century, the blessing of the throat ritual had begun. To learn more, see a Novena to St. Blaise or Catholic Culture to find a prayer of blessing for the throat.