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February 9, 2011

Students Celebrate Feast of St. Blaise with Blaze

St. Blaise has nothing in his history about blazes but don’t tell that to generations of students at Saint Vincent College where the Feast of St. Blaise has been an opportunity for hundreds to enjoy a giant bonfire fueled with discarded Christmas trees – after getting their throats blessed by the Benedictine monk-priests of the Catholic, liberal arts College’s creative Campus Ministry.

“We have sponsored this unique event for decades in cooperation with our Student Government Association,” Fr. Vincent Zidek, O.S.B., director of campus ministry, explained. “This social and liturgical celebration is held in conjunction with the feast day of St. Blaise, a fourth century bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. Saint Blaise is said to have healed a boy who was choking. Since the 8th century, he has been venerated as the patron saint of those who suffer from diseases of the throat.”

The event is held on the Friday evening closest to the February 3 feast day.

Saint Vincent College’s St. Blaise Blaze starts with the traditional blessing of throats with two candles which are blessed and held against the throat for protection from afflictions of the throat and from other illnesses. The student-staffed Saint Vincent Fire Department builds the bonfire with discarded live Christmas trees contributed by faculty, staff and neighbors. The fire is located in an open field near the freshman residence hall, Saint Benedict Hall.

“In the lobby of the residence hall, we also have live music by student bands and fun foods such as hot dogs, hot chocolate, popcorn and snow cones,” Fr. Vincent said. “Despite frigid outdoor temperatures, hundreds of students enjoy this unusual celebration until well after midnight every year.”

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