Today is the feast day of St Blaise. I really love this feast day because it's when the priests perform "the blessing of the throats" at mass.
Why is St Blaise the patron of throat problems? It all goes back to an 8th century legend about the saint which describes how a mother brought her little son to St Blaise because he had a fish bone stuck in his throat and was about to die. St Blaise blessed the boy's throat, the bone dislodged, and he was cured!
I relate to this story because I hate having a fish bone stuck in my throat. It used to happen when I was little and my grandfather brought fish home for us to eat, but the last time it happened was in Brazil. I was on a mission trip and on anight out I was chowing down on some Piranha soup. (Yes the man-eating scary type of Piranha.) You might think it's not easy to choke on soup, but I did it - a fish bone from the Piranha lodged in my throat! Did I pray to St Blaise? I wish I could say that I did, but my first thought was - I need a piece of bread! It finally dislodged and dinner went on, but I was done with the soup.
The way throats are blessed on the Feast of St Blaise works like this: The priest might hold two candles in an open "X" formation (like a cross), or he might have a cool St Blaise candle made especially for this purpose. (No, they are not lit, but that would inject an exciting element of danger to the whole proceeding.)
He puts the candles on either side of your neck and says
"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, 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."