Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia
In ancient Russia St. Blaise was considered a protector of domestic animals. People prayed to him when a horse suddenly fell ill or a calf lost its way. Why did peasants asked especially his help?
The thing is that in the 4th century when emperor Lycinius pursued Christians, citizens of Sebasta asked their diocesan St. Blaise to leave the city and disappear from prosecutions and torments. St. Blaise followed the advice of the people who were fond of him and lodged on mount Arheos surrounded with woods inhabited by numerous beasts.
Beasts frequently came to his cave. They waited long-sufferingly until he stopped praying. The elder would leave the cave and bless the beasts, and they began to run, creep, jump for joy, lick the saint’s hand and caressed him. Blaise cured sick beasts, assigning his hands upon them.
Once servants of the emperor hunted at mount Arheos and saw a lot of playing animals. And lions did not offend deer, and bears did not touch roe deer.
St. Blaise noticed hunters from far away. He blessed beasts and told them silently:
- Hurry up and run away, otherwise hunters will kill you!
When the hunters came closer, they saw that and beasts disappeared, and only a gray-haired elder was standing before them.
- You are a sorcerer! - The hunters told him. – How have you managed to fascinate beasts that they obey you?
- I am not a sorcerer; I am a Christian since childhood. Enemies of belief expelled me from my city. I’d better live with wild beasts, than with malicious people, enemies of the Christ...
St. Blaise lived in exile for many years. All these years he was praying for people - and for his offenders too. And all these years wild beasts came up to him as he gave them kindness, caress and love.
Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow. He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.