This year’s Blessing of Throats: without crossed candles

BRIDGEPORT—Given the pandemic, the blessing of throats, usually administered on the Memorial of St. Blaise (February 3) will look a little different this year.

In order to ensure public safety the blessing of the throats will not be offered to individuals using candles, wrote Msgr. Thomas Powers, vicar general in a recent directive.

Instead, he said, a priest or deacon may give the blessing to all by extending his hands, without crossed candles, over the people while saying this prayer of blessing, “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, 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.”

The blessing will follow the homily and universal prayer during Mass, or, for pastoral reasons, it may take the place of the final blessing of the Mass.

“The blessing of throats is one of those great rituals in the Church that invites us to connect our rich history of the saints with everyday life,” said Dr. Patrick Donovan, director of the Leadership Institute. “Like Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday, it’s also one of those days when people who struggle to practice their faith on a weekly basis seem to come forward for the blessing.”

Dr. Donovan shared a personal story of why this particular feast day means a lot to him: “This year will be different and I, for one, will miss the feel of the wax candles against my throat,” he said. “My grandfather, father, and brother all died from esophageal cancer and I’ve already had two surgeries to keep it at bay.”

“While we are a people of faith, we also understand that science is not anathema to our beliefs,” explained Dr. Donovan. “This year, there is a greater risk of passing the coronavirus from person to person and the candles themselves could be a contagion. The blessing will still be a blessing and I pray that St. Blaise will intercede on behalf of all of us, but it’s also an important reminder that we must pray—and work together—to end the pandemic.”