You Say “Tomato,” I Say “To-MAH-to”: St. Blase and the Holy Helpers

OK, so Father Longenecker—This week I wrote about St. Blase, and you followed up with a great post on St. Blaise.

Nonplussed, I went directly to Spell-Check, I did not pass Go, and I confirmed that We Are Both Right. The saint whose feast day we celebrated today answers us, whichever spelling we prefer.

I am not defensive or spiteful or OCD or anything like that, but I did happen to notice that the following websites all spell the name as I did: Blase.

• Holy Spirit Interactive
• St. Blase Catholic Church, Sterling Heights, Michigan
• Catholic On-Line
• Integrated Catholic Life
• Catholic Information Network
• Catholic News Agency

However, lest I grow smug, Blaise was the preferred spelling on these sites:

• Wikipedia
• American Catholic
• Catholic Encyclopedia


An Armenian bishop, he was martyred around the year 316 A.D., during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Licinius, for refusing to embrace the Roman state religion of Jupiter.

According to legend, St. Blase hid from the Roman authorities in a cave, where he tamed wild animals by blessing them. Local hunters came upon him, curing sick and wounded animals, and took him to the government. As he was being transported to prison, St. Blase encountered a mother whose young son was choking to death on a fishbone. Filled with compassion, Blase blessed the boy’s throat; the fishbone dissolved, and the boy’s life was saved.

Once in captivity, St. Blase was tortured, his skin shredded with wool-combs, and then he was beheaded.

Devotion to St. Blase began in the ninth century Armenia. In the 14th century, when the Black Death (bubonic plague) took the lives of many throughout Europe, the devotion to the “Fourteen Holy Helpers” grew up in Germany, Sweden and Hungary. St. Blase was one of these martyrs known for their intercession in case of sickness.

Still today in Bavaria, the Fourteen Holy Helpers are honored as the “vierzehn Heiligen,” and the Basilica of the Vierzehnheiligen is dedicated to these “Helper Saints.” A pilgrimage church named for the holy helpers, built in the rococo style in the rural hamlet of Bad Staffelstein, was erected between 1743 and 1772.






O God, deliver us
through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blase,
from all evil of soul and body,
especially from all ills of the throat;
and grant us the grace to make a good confession
in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon,
and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

  • Frank H

    And the entry for today in my Daily Roman Missal actually has BOTH spellings, Blaise in the heading, and Blase in the copy!

  • jkm

    My friends named their son Blase, and have found that all the holy cards, medals, and statues available use the Blaise form. Plus, people think they’ve named their child the French word for world-weary.

    [One of my sons friends took Blaise as his confirmation name, which I thought was charming. Then we discovered he wanted to spell it B-L-A-Z-E and use it to embark on a career in professional wrestling, as The Blaze. He was gently persuaded to spell it B-L-A-I-S-E, or rethink his choice; he stayed with the formal spelling, but I'm sure he tells everyone his confirmation name is Blaze. I kissed that one up to the Holy Spirit -- figured maybe someday the kid would come a-blaze in the faith. Also, in my son's class, someone took Athanasius because he genuinely liked what he knew of him and also because he thought it sounded cool. His mother, who had to make the thing with his name on it was unthrilled. My son, with his strong devotion to Michael the Archangel, happily chose Michael. I know, weird, right? -admin]

  • SWP

    I’d consider this resource definitive:
    One spelling is clearly preferred.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    It’s Blaise in the Missal, but Blaze is cool. Very Pentecostal…

  • Tom Roberts

    If you are ever in North Bavaria especially in the Romantischer Strasse area a visit to Viertzehnheilgen is worth the drive. I came upon it during Army maneuvers in the 1980s when I was a survey officer and it’s steeples was one of my base survey locations. I took lunch off to look through the (then) pristine church and grounds. It must have been quite a pilgrimage site in its day (before Napoleon). On a rainy winter day in the 1980s it was near deserted. This whole area has a fascinating history as it was at the nexus of the Protestant-Catholic/Bavarian-Saxon faultlines. Of course the US Army was there as the inter German border was just north of there in the 1980s, a faultline which has since disappeared.

  • Kathy Schiffer

    It is amazing, isn’t it? I have not been there but did visit the Wieskirche, the Church of the Scourged Savior– another mind-numbing example of rococo architecture, surrounded by farmers’ fields.