Juliana of Liege vs. Blaise

And suddenly it was Friday. Welcome to the last matchup of another full week of first round matchups. Today, it's Juliana of Liege vs. Blaise. Medieval nun and mystic vs. bishop and martyr of the early church.

Yesterday, Oscar (aka Ansgar) swept past Felix of Burgundy 53% to 47% to make it to the Saintly Sixteen.

We'll see everyone first thing Monday morning as we prepare for our final three matchups of the First Round. First up, it's Emma of Hawaii vs. Hugh of Lincoln Then, on Thursday, we continue our journey with the start of the Saintly Sixteen. Onward!

Juliana of Liege

Juliana of Liege was a nun and mystic in twelfth-century Belgium. Like many of her fellow female monastics in Liege, she deeply revered the eucharist.

At five years of age, she and her twin sister, Agnes, were orphaned and taken to be raised in an orphanage adjacent to the double monastery outside of Liege, a city east of Brussels. Eight years later, she entered the order and worked at their hospice, caring for lepers. At the age of sixteen, she began to experience visions of a full moon crossed over by a dark stripe. She understood that the moon represented the church, and it was divided by an absence because it did not celebrate a feast of Corpus Christi.

Only a lowly nun, she initially kept her visions to herself, then shared them with a small group of women she trusted within the monastery. As she gained seniority and respect, she was elected prioress in 1225. She began to confide her visions to her confessor, Canon John, who counted as friend many influential clerics of the church, men who went on to become bishops, archdeacons, and even a pope (Urban IV). He shared her visions with these men, who agreed the idea of the feast was theologically sound. From there, Juliana and her friend Canon John began to compose the initial version of the Latin Office of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Some 700 years later, a composite manuscript containing this original office was discovered in the National Library of the Netherlands in the Hague by Belgian Benedictine Cyrille Lambot.

Juliana’s later life was one of upheaval as her monastery and indeed the whole church was caught up in conflicts between religious and political groups fighting for control of power and resources. Juliana was forced out of the monastery at Liege by an unscrupulous secular administrator. From there, she lived a wandering life moving between Cistercian houses. She died isolated from her friends in 1258.

Juliana’s liturgical work paved the way for Pope Urban IV to establish the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast for the whole Latin Church. For this, she is counted not only as a saint but also one of the earliest female liturgists of medieval Europe.

Collect for Juliana of Liege

O God, by whose grace your servant Juliana of Liege, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Amber Belldene


At first glance, when encountering Blaise among the church’s saints, it can be quite easy to cough, clear one’s throat, and skip ahead. Plenty of saints have plenty of legends, and a lesser-known saint can be easy to pass over. Yet Blaise’s witness and the observation of his feast reveals a curious history.

Saint Blaise was believed to have been the bishop of Sebaste in historical Armenia (modern-day Turkey) in the early fourth century. He was martyred in the final stages of the Great Persecution under Emperor Licinius, making Blaise a victim of superbly unlucky timing—that same emperor, together with Constantine, would ultimately author the Edict of Milan in 313 CE granting toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire.

Blaise was born to noble parents, raised as a Christian, and, according to legend, was made a bishop at a young age. During the persecution, Blaise withdrew to a mountain cave under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, where he lived among and blessed sick and wounded animals. Blaise is best remembered for the occasion when a mother brought him her young boy, who was choking from a fishbone lodged in his throat and near death. At Blaise’s hands, the child was healed and restored to health. The same woman later brought Blaise food and candles when he was imprisoned for his faith. Ultimately, Blaise was ordered tortured with iron combs to the skin and beheaded.

The intercession and healing of the young boy would later place Blaise among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints and healers of the church to whom the faithful would pray with particular devotion during the bubonic plague of the fourteenth century. Given his manner of death, Blaise is also kept as the patron saint of wool combers and the patron for the cure of cattle diseases. Blaise’s feast is kept on February 3, and owing to his healing of the young boy, the blessing of throats is a practice kept on that day. Those with throat diseases (or those whose throats may be particularly subject to use, such as singers and choristers) are blessed by the placement of two candles crossed at the throat, with the prayer: “through the intercession of Saint Blaise, may God deliver you from maladies of the throat and from all other evil.”

Collect for Blaise

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Blaise: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

David Sibley


Juliana of Liege: Photo: Andreas Praefcke, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Blaise: Louvre Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


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67 comments on “Juliana of Liege vs. Blaise”

  1. Tempting as it was to vote for a saint who blessed sick and wounded animals, I had to vote for Julianna as a liturgist, and for all those forced from their homes by political conflict and war.

  2. I voted for Juliana because of how difficult it must have been for women to rise to any position of authority in the early church and share mystical visions.

  3. I had to vote for Juliana because I share her name, not to mention her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament!

  4. I'm voting for Blaise, as he suffered painful martyrdom, lived among and presumably cared for the sick and wounded animals (I'm a doctor and an animal lover), and, praise God, is the patron saint of singers. I finally have someone to turn to when my throat is clogged and the choir needs my alto voice! May Blaise come through this race in a blaze of glory!

  5. My best friend from college is named Blaise. One year, we had late classes, and ran to a church, found a priest, and got our throats blessed late one evening, because we had missed the evening service. He only did it because her name was Blaise.

  6. I remember having my throat blessed with two candles throughout Catholic School on St. Blaise Day!

    1. Me too, but on Feb 2 not Feb 3. We were sure that special blessing kept tonsilitis away. Love the Blessed Sacrament(Corpus Christi) but it is Blaise for me.

  7. Gotta go with Juliana, our female liturgist and visionary. Her story brought to mind the recent novel Matrix by Lauren Groff, about a medieval abbess who has visions that lead her to rebuild her convent.

    On the other hand, I could use the intervention of Blaise with my singing voice, which I have lost in recent years.

  8. Growing up a Catholic girl who often had tonsil trouble, I can't count the number of years I had those candles crossed under my throat! Had to vote for my friend Blaise.

  9. Well, I be blowed over. On board I and me crew are known to feast on fish, not only on Friday, and must say that fish bones be a trial, for sure. Along with sunburn, splinters and rope burns. Having a Saint like Blaise gives us a balm, as on calmer waters....

  10. My husband would always has his throat blessed the Sunday closest to St. Blaise day, so St. Blaise gets my vote. Ahem.

  11. I voted for Juliana understanding the determination from a young women to the Christian belief

  12. A tough one again, but Blaise had me at the bit about living in a cave and blessing sick and wounded animals. Besides, as a former actor, I've invoked Blaise more than once. Sorry, Juliana.

  13. As a twin who lived her young formative years in a Catholic children's home, I can relate to Juliana. She gets my vote.

  14. As music major, alto and long time choir member,I must sing" and praise Blaise - and he gets my vote.

  15. Juliana pointed out to her priest
    That Corpus Christi should have its own Feast.
    Her enemy Roger
    Contrived to dislodge her;
    Which did not change things in the least.

  16. I voted for Blaise as the saint of "superbly unlucky timing"; for those of us living in this preposterous timeline of global pandemic, petty authoritarians, and a madman trying to start WW III, he seems "uncanny." Plus "Blaise" rhymes with "malaise." Coincidence? You decide! Plus, WHAT to say about a thirteen-year-old orphan girl given the task of working with lepers! No wonder she had visions of an occulted moon. And a whole mob of men couldn't see that it had nothing to do with a feast of Corpus Christi, but was a cry: get this child some proper care and attention and an education! And feed her! and her sister, and all impoverished and abandoned children. And let the moon take care of itself.

  17. Juliana for me, as I share her deep love for the Eucharist. Though I may need to invoke Blaise on the day when I finally get to chant liturgy again after all of the sad liturgical privations of the past 2+ years.

  18. So, all Juliana did was institute the feast of Corpus Christi? Blaise gets my vote because he blessed sick and wounded animals. Also, as his feast day is February 3rd, which is my brother's birthday, and he heals throat diseases, which my brother has something called a Schatzky's ring in his esophagus, I think he's definitely more worthy of our votes than Juliana.

  19. As a singer and cantor for our church, I was tempted to vote for Blaise, but couldn't pass up the liturgical contributions offered by Juliana of Liege.
    This year's match-ups are really difficult!

  20. I well remember getting my throat blessed every year as a young Catholic girl. I never understood why candles under the throat was part of the blessing, or why throats needed a specific blessing, but I thought it was cool!

  21. I don't feel greatly moved by either of today's saints, but have a fond memory of the St. Blaise Day Pub Crawl during college chaplaincy days when some went from bar to bar for the liquid blessing of throats. 😉