Saint Blaise

South Germany (Black Forest?), dated 1596
Fruitwood, original polychromy, h. 25.5.cm
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Physician and bishop

Sebaste in Armenia

Emperor Licinus

Blaise lived in the second half of the 3rd century. He worked as a physician and became the bishop of Sebastea (now Sivas, Turkey) in the Roman province of Armenia. According to tradition, Blaise died a martyr’s death under the emperor Licinius; however, it is more likely that this martyrdom was at the time of the emperor Diocletian. The saint is called upon to help cure afflictions of the throat. Blessings given in the Catholic Church include, among others: “Through the intercession of St Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil”.

Animals friend

Cruel martydom

Suffering of innocents

According to the Legenda aurea (the Golden Legend) Blaise fled from the emperor Diocletian and hid in a cave. The animals of the forest gathered around to protect and feed him. In return, he healed sick animals and blessed them. When Saint Blaise was summoned by the prince to return to the city, he refused to renounce his faith and acknowledge the prince’s gods. As a result he suffered a extremely brutal martyrdom. Seven pious women and two small children were also killed at the same time.

The Legenda Aurea

Jacobus de Voragine

An early bestseller

The Legenda aurea was compiled around 1264 by the Dominican Jacobus de Voragine. It originally included 182 tractates, primarily biographies of saints. With this work, Jacobus, who was Archbishop of Genoa from 1292 until his death in 1298, created the best known and most widely read book of traditional lore on saints in the Middle Ages. It soon became extremely popular and documentary evidence shows that one manuscript had reached Germany by 1282. The first printed editions were published around 1470. The attributes of saints to be found in art (painting and sculpture), which assist the interpretation of religious scenes, largely originate from the Legenda aurea.