Today we commemorate the optional memorial of
St. Blase, a bishop in the early church tortured and martyred. Traditions about the bishop abound, especially that he was renowned for the efficacy of his healing prayer. His symbols include two candles which call to mind his intercession for a child choking on a fishbone, metal combs or rakes which were the instruments of his torture, and sometimes wild animals who even came to the saint for healing. Devotion to the saint is especially strong in Eastern Europe, especially where he is invoked as patron.
The tradition of blessing throats on this day survives in many places, either as a general blessing or an individual blessing often with a pair of crossed candles applied to the throat. As a child, I always thought yesterday's blessing of the candles was a preparation for using them today on the feast of St. Blase, but of course they are unrelated. The traditions surrounding the Presentation and Candlemass day are based on Scripture and the life of the Holy Family.
Today's blessing asks that through the intercession of Blase, bishop and martyr, we may be preserved from diseases of the throat and illness of every other kind in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is well to acknowledge our dependence on God for our very existence, including our physical health and to prayerfully ask God's help.