Science of the Saints, 24-II-2019 (11 Feb.), Hieromartyr Blaise

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The Hieromartyr Blaise (Blasius), Bishop of Sebasteia, was known for his righteous and pious life. He was unanimously chosen by the people and ordained bishop of Sebasteia. This occurred during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324), fierce persecutors of Christians. Saint Blaise had to encourage his flock, visit the imprisoned, and give support to the martyrs.

Many hid themselves away from the persecutors by going off into desolate and solitary places. Saint Blaise likewise took the opportunity to hide himself away on Mount Argeos, where he asceticised in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and gave them blessing; the saint likewise healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them. The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agricolaus, being in the area to snare wild beasts to use to tear apart the Christian martyrs. The servants reported to their master that Christians were hidden away on the mountain, and he gave orders to arrest them. But those sent out found there only the Sebasteia bishop. Glorifying God Who had summoned him to this exploit, Saint Blaise followed the soldiers.

Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. Thus, a destitute widow complained to him of her misfortune: a wolf had carried off her only possession – a small pig. The bishop smiled and said to her: “Weep not, thy piglet wilt be returned to thee,” and actually to the astonishment of everyone, the wolf came running back and returned the piglet unharmed.

Agricolaus, greeting the bishop with words of deceit, called him a companion of the gods. The saint answered the greeting, but the gods he called devils. Then they gave him a fierce beating and led him off to prison.

On the next day they again subjected the saint to tortures. When they led him back to the prison, seven women went along behind and gathered up the drops of blood. The authorities arrested the women and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women, in pretending to consent to this, said that they needed cleansing beforehand in the waters of a lake. They took along the idols and submerged them in a very deep portion of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The saints stoically endured the torments, strengthened by the grace of God, their bodies were transformed and became white like snow, and together with the blood there flowed what seemed like milk. One of the women had two young sons, who implored their mother that she help them attain the Kingdom of Heaven and she entrusted them into the care of Saint Blaise. The seven holy women were then beheaded.

Saint Blaise was again brought before Agricolaus, and again he unflinchingly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to throw the martyr into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he went about on it as though on dry land. Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him whilst calling on the help of their gods. To this, 68 men of the governor’s retinue made bold and entered the water, and all immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the Angel that had appeared to him, returned to shore.

Agricolaus was in a rage over having lost his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead Saint Blaise, and together with him the two boys entrusted to him, the sons of the martyress. Before death, the priestmartyr prayed for all the whole world, and especially for those honouring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316. The relics of the Hieromartyr Blaise were carried off to the West during the time of the Crusades, and portions of the relics are preserved in many of the lands of Europe.

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