The Other St Blaise
In Dubrovnik, the image of St Blaise is prevalent. But you would unlikely find the image above upon searching the internet. It's nondescript, and easily gets unnoticed. His face is almost washed out. He is carrying the city on his right hand. All the other statues depict him holding the city on his left hand. He doesn't wear a lofty bishop hat. He stands smaller than the statues that are widespread across the old city. It' why I like it.
According to legend, St. Blaise saved Dubrovnik from an attack by Venetian forces back in 971. Venetian warships had dropped anchor around the ancient city walls on the eve of the 3rd of February. It was a dark winter’s night. The Venetians freely entered the Old City under the guise of requiring supplies for their journey eastwards. The real plan was much more sinister, they planned to invade and claim Dubrovnik for their empire. Spies dressed as sailors carefully observed the Dubrovnik defences, counting the number of guards and making notes of the cannons and archers.
Unbeknown to the Venetians, they too were being watched. As darkness fell on the 3rd of February 971 a local priest walked through the cobbled streets of the Old City to his parish church, the Church of St. Steven. When he arrived, he was surprised to find the door open. With trepidation he entered. Before him stood an old man dressed as a bishop, mitre on his head and a staff in his hand.
“Address your city fathers the Venetians plan to attack,” whispered the old man from the darkness. “Please identify yourself to me,” asked the priest. To which the old man replied that his name was Blaise.
Realising the gravity of the situation and heeding the message from Blaise, the priest did indeed inform the city fathers. Immediately the guards on the stone walls of the city were doubled, the gates were closed. Measures were put in place to defend the city at all costs. The Venetians soon became aware that Dubrovnik was arming for an attack, their plan had been discovered and the element of surprise was lost. Just as quickly as they had arrived they loaded their ships and retreated into the night. Dubrovnik had been saved. The city was safe.