How close St Blaise is to the people of Dubrovnik is shown by the number of times he appears in reliefs and sculptures in the city, and by the celebrations on his feast day, February 3, when a grand procession through town takes place, followed by great merriment. It is thought he was adopted as the city’s saint protector in 971 after appearing in a vision warning of an attack by the Venetians. St Blaise came from Armenia, He was a healer, and legend has it that sick animals came to him but would never disturb his prayers. He was persecuted as a Christian, and in prison still practised medicine, saving a child from choking on a fishbone. That’s why he is the patron saint of ailments of the throat, and on his feast day peoples’ throats are still blessed with two entwined candles. He was thrown in a lake, and stood on the water waiting for his persecutors to come out to him – they drowned. When he came back to dry land, his flesh was torn with wool combs and he was beheaded.
Lokrum is connected with several legends. The least scary of them is about Richard the Lionheart, who was caught in violent storm on his return from the Crusades, and was so grateful to find shelter on the island that he pledged 100,000 ducats for the building of a church on the spot, but was persuaded by the Dubrovnik nobles to allow it to be built in the city instead. And thence came, the story goes, the money for building the Dubrovnik cathedral. More creepy is the curse of the Benedictine monks, who were so furious at being cast off the island by the occupying French in the early 19th century that they cursed any person who would look upon Lokrum as his own property. And indeed, every owner since then did meet a violent death, including Emperor Maximilian, who was executed by firing squad by Mexican republicans.