So many little customs in our world today came from the Catholic Church – and we just don’t know it!
It’s a common custom around the world that when a person near you sneezes, you respond by saying “God, bless you!”
When you think about it, that might seem like a bit of strange thing to do. Wishing God’s blessing on someone is a good thing, of course, but… why is it specifically linked with people sneezing?
The U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) website has the answer, and it takes us all the way back to a 6th century pope.
Until recently, major plagues were a regular problem, especially in Europe. According to one account, the bubonic plague was ravaging the city of Rome in the 6th century. Since coughing and sneezing were symptoms, Pope St. Gregory the Great encouraged Catholics to speak a blessing on people displaying those symptoms in hopes that God may have mercy on them and save their lives.
So next time you see a person sneezes, listen to Pope St. Gregory the Great and ask for God’s blessing on him – you might even be saving his life!