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The Blessed Oil Of Sant Blai

The Església de Sant Joan de Malta in Palma’s Old Town had been closed for restoration for almost two years. The church dates from 1835 and was erected over an older oratory dating from the 13th century. The other day, I happened to pass by the church and saw that the doors were open. I could not resist and duly entered the temple, curious as to what embellishment might have been done to the temple.

I got talking with the Sacristán (sacristan or sexton) who explained to me that mass would be held about an hour later and that, as it was the day of Sant Blai that day (February 3rd), olive oil would be blessed during the service. Then, churchgoers would be blessed with the consecrated oil at their throats. An old tradition in Catholic churches stipulates that Saint Blaise, or San Blas as the saint is also known, has healing powers in particular relating to the throat. Sant Blai is also considered as the saint of the wild beast.

The land where the oratory and later the church were built was bestowed by Jaume I to the Cavallers de Sant Joan de Jerusalem in 1230, who in turn were part of the Knights Templar.

To make things slightly more confusing: Sant Blai is not the patron saint of the church of Sant Joan de Malta, but instead, Sant Gaietà is. Sant Gaietà or Saint Gajetan was the founder of the Clerics Regular, better known as the Teatins (Teatinos, Theatines). It is the Order of the Theatines who look after the Knights Templar churches here in Mallorca, ever since the Knights’ assets were seized when Pope Clement issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae in 1307.

The photos were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 3rd, 2011. The time was 19:07:17 and 18:41:19, respectively.

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February 2011


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