Throat a bit sore lately?

Hoarseness setting in?

No wonder, considering the wacky weather that has included snow and ice on two occasions since the calendar flipped to a new year.

Which makes the feast day of St. Blaise on Feb. 3, more commonly known as the blessing of the throats, perfect timing in an area where nary a family or workplace has escaped the ravages of the highly contagious strain of flu making the rounds this winter.

Not much is known about St. Blaise except what tradition has passed down. Historians are in agreement that he was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and martyred around 316. He was apparently born into a rich family and eventually became a physician before being consecrated as a bishop at a young age. During persecution in his area, St. Blaise relocated to a cave and became a hermit. Legend has it that he healed wild animals that were sick and wounded.

Hunters gathering wild beasts eventually found him and brought him to the governor of Cappadocia. There, St. Blaise encountered a woman whose pig was being seized by a wolf and commanded the wolf to release the pig, thus saving its life.

In prison he cured a small boy who was choking to death on a fishbone lodged in his throat. The woman whose pig was saved brought the future saint candles to his prison cell so he could read Scripture.

By the sixth century, St. Blaise was being called upon for intercession for diseases of the throat. During the Middle Ages his popularity soared, becoming one of the most popular saints during that era.

One reason for his popularity was born out of the fact that he was able to cure the sick, especially those with throat ailments, thus establishing the foundation for the custom of the blessing of throats. During that blessing, the priest touches the throats with two cross candles while invoking the prayer of St. Blaise and imparting God’s blessing.

The feast day of St. Blaise is one day after Candlemas Day, which is also known as the Presentation of the Lord. Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for the rites of purification and dedication as prescribed by the Torah.

Because Jesus is the light of the world who came to dispel sin and darkness, since at least the seventh century candles have been blessed at Mass on Feb. 2 to be used throughout the liturgical year, hence the day is known as “Candlemas.”

In many Eastern European countries, this day officially marks the end of the Christmas celebration. Noting that, St. John Paul II began the custom of keeping the Nativity up in St. Peter’s Square until Feb. 2.