3 February is the Feast Day of a saint particularly dear to the city of Milan: St. Blaise. Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia and martyr in the 4th century, he is invoked against illnesses of the throat because, among the miracles he performed, he saved a boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat and almost died. On this day, also in Milan, there is the traditional blessing of the throats with blessed candles.
Blaise was already venerated in the ancient basilica of St. Thecla where, in 1116, the Decumani priests had obtained the consent of the Ordinari for the erection of an altar dedicated to him: the saint then became their patron. Following the demolition of the basilica, the title of the altar of St. Blaise was transported to the Duomo and attributed, together with that of the nativity of Mary, to the high altar. St. Blaise is still the patron of the minor canons of the Duomo, who are the successors of the Decumani following the reform of the clergy initiated by St. Charles in the sixteenth century. It is no accident that on the sepulchre of the minor canons in the south transept of the Duomo, a memorial tablet recalls the resting place of those who had been “psallentes in choro, sub tutela S. Blasii”.
In Milan, where the cult of St. Blaise is very much alive, families traditionally eat the remains of the Christmas panettone , purposely kept, as a propitiatory gesture against sore throats and colds, according to the Milanese saying "San Bias el benediss la gola e el nas".
One of the spires on the Cathedral facade is dedicated to St. Blaise, testifying to this cult which is very much alive and dear to the Milanese.