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St. Nicaise, Scrofula and the King's Evil

St. Nicaise, martyr
Also known as Nicasio or Nicasius
Died 1187, captured and beheaded at the siege of Acre in Palestine
Commemorated July 1

Patronage, invoked against scrofula, a form of tuberculosis, affecting the lymph nodes of the neck. In the Middle Ages it was believed that "royal touch", the touch of the sovereign of England or France, could cure the disease. Scrofula was therefore also known as "the King's Evil."

Saint Nicaise / Nicasio / Nicasius, Martyr of the Order of Malta
http://www.smom- za.org/saints/ nicasius_ text.htm

All that is known of Saint Nicaise, a martyr Knight, is that he lived shortly after the Blessed Gerland. His picture, painted in several churches (in Saint Dominic of Palermo, Saint Catherine dell'Olivella - not far from the altar of the Madonna of Itria - Saint Mary of Miracles, in Palermo, as well as in Saint John Decapitated, in Valletta, Malta) goes to show that we are not speaking of a myth but of a martyr of our Order.

Under the effigy of Saint Nicaise, drawn on a column of Saint Dominic of Palermo, can be read this inscription, bearing witness to a popular belief:

" S. Nicasius Martyr et Miles Domini nostri Jesu Christi, multas in collo habuit glandulas et imperavit a Domino nostro Jesu Christo ut quicumque nomen suum supra se portaverit, glandulae ei nocere non poterint. Amen".

Therefore, our Knight was either scrofulous or suffered from scrofula as a consequence of his tortures. He will guard us from scrofula from his high place in heaven, on one simple condition: if our "glands" worry us or trouble our children, let us write with confidence the name of Saint Nicaise and let us wear it on us or put it in the clothing of the patient; the holy martyr will indeed know how to cure the disease he knew. (From: Ducaud-Bourget, Msgr. François: The Spiritual Heritage of The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Vatican 1958)


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