St. Blaise icon
Orthodox icon of Saint Blaise, Blasius, Bishop of Sebaste.
Commemorated February 11.
This is the Orthodox icon of the Hieromartyr Blaise who was consecrated Bishop of Sebaste during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324), fierce persecutors of Christians. St Blaise encouraged his flock, visited the imprisoned, and gave support to the martyrs.Many hid themselves from the persecutors by going off to desolate and solitary places. St Blaise also hid himself away on Mount Argeos, where he lived in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and blessed them.
The saint also healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them. The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agrilaus who reported to their master that Christians were hiding on the mountain, and he sent soldiers to arrest them. St Blaise followed the soldiers. Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. They subjected the saint to tortures. When they led him back to the prison, seven women followed behind and gathered up the drops of blood.
They arrested them and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women pretended to consent to this and said that first they needed to wash the idols in the waters of a lake. They took the idols and threw them in a very deep part of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The seven holy women were beheaded. The governor ordered that the martyr be thrown into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he walked on it as though on dry land.
Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him while calling on the help of their gods. Sixty-eight men of the governor's retinue entered the water, and immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the angel who had appeared to him, returned to shore. Agrilaus was in a rage over losing his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead St Blaise, and the two boys entrusted to him, the sons of the martyr. Before his death, the martyr prayed for the whole world, and especially for those honoring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316. We pray to St Blaise for the health of domestic animals, and for protection from wild beasts.
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