By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to certain devotions. July is devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus.
The early Fathers say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, and that the sacraments were brought forth through His Blood.
In the past, the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Christ was celebrated on the first Sunday of July as confirmed by past Popes and recalled recently by Pope Benedict XVI in His speech after praying the Angelus on July 5, 2009. He made special mention of Pope John XXIII’s apostolic letter “Inde a Primis” (dated June 30, 1960) which explained the devotion’s significance and approved its litanies.
The Devotion to the Precious Blood
This devotion is one of the most ancient of pious Church practices. It is said that the Blessed Virgin venerated the Most Precious Blood of her infant Son on the day of His circumcision as she collected the first relics of His Precious Blood on a piece of cloth. On that momentous occasion she united her tears with that of the Word Incarnate on account of not so much of the sensible pain but of His supernatural sorrow for the hard-heartedness of mortals.
It was the first of seven Blood-Sheddings of Our Divine Saviour, the rest being:
- The Agony in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Crowning with Thorns
- The Way of the Cross
- The Crucifixion
- The Piercing of His Heart
In his book, The Precious Blood, Father Frederick William Faber, D.D., calls St Paul the Doctor of the Precious Blood owing to his evident fondness to preach on it in his epistles (Romans 3:25; Ephesians 1:7). He recounts that the lives of saints are replete with devotion to the Precious Blood making special mention of St John Chrysostom, St Austin, S. Gertrude and St Catherine of Sienna whom he considered the Prophetess of the Precious Blood for putting emphasis on it as the solution to the ills of her times.
Father Faber also remarks that the Precious Blood makes us appreciate more Christ’s redemption of mankind, His sacrifice and Passion.
It also makes us comprehend the beautiful doctrine and the august realities of the Blessed Sacrament as we kneel in front of the tabernacle in humble adoration.
In the past, the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Christ was celebrated on the first Sunday of July as confirmed by past Popes.
Over time the Church gave Her blessing to the devotion by approving societies like the Missionaries of the Precious Blood; enriching confraternities like that of St. Nicholas in Carcere, in Rome, and that of the London Oratory; attaching indulgences to prayers and scapulars in honor of the Precious Blood; and instituting commemorative feasts of the Precious Blood, Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent and, since Pius IX, the first Sunday of July.
After Vatican II the feast was removed from the calendar, but a votive Mass in honour of the Precious Blood was established and can be celebrated in the month of July (as well as most other months of the year).
For these reasons the entire month of July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood, and Catholics are encouraged to meditate on the profound sacrifice of Jesus and the pouring out of his blood for humanity.