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Five things you need to know about devotion to the Precious Blood

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precious blood of Jesus - The Catholic Weekly
Relic of the Holy Blood, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges, Belgium. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In the month of July the church asks us to foster our devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus.  

This devotion began at the foot of the cross with the Blessed Mother and continued throughout the early church into the current day.  

The devotion is actually quite ancient… 

The early fathers and saints of the church spoke often of the power of the blood of Our Lord.  

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St Peter refers to the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet 1:19) as our redemption from sin.  

In 96 AD, St Pope Clement advised everyone to “fix our thoughts on the blood of Christ; and reflect how precious that blood is in God’s eyes, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.” 

Medieval saints were also devoted to the Precious Blood, like St Catherine of Siena (+1380). She understood the power it possesses and would pray for the conversion of sinners and liberation of the poor souls in purgatory, just as Our Lord has asked of us many times. In fact, her last words were, “The blood! The blood! Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 

It’s related to the devotion to the five wounds of Christ  

Our Lord appeared to Sr Mary Martha Chambon in the 19th century and entrusted to her the devotion to the holy wounds.  

He asked her to “offer the merits of the Holy Wounds for persons who die in the night or during the day,” and showed her a cup full of his Precious Blood bestowing droplets on individual souls. 

According to Sr Mary Martha, Jesus also promised certain graces would be attached through this devotion, “each time you offer to my Father the merits of my divine wounds you gain an immense fortune.” 

precious blood of Christ - The Catholic Weekly
Erasmus Quellinus (II) – Saint Thomas Touching Christ’s Wounds. Photo: Picryl, Public Domain.

The devotion we have today has a more modern origin

It wasn’t until 1849, during the First Italian War for Independence, that the devotion was spread across Christendom.  

Pope Pius IX had been sent into exile to Gaeta with Venerable Don Giovanni Merlini—his friend and the third superior-general of the missionary Fathers of the Most Precious Blood—and was trying to figure out a way to bring an end to the war.  

Don Merlini suggested to the pope that he create a universal feast of the Precious Blood, if God aided them in bringing peace to Rome and ending the war.  

Pope Pius IX boldly stated on 30 June 1849 that he intended to create a feast in honour of the Precious Blood. The war then soon ended, and he returned to Rome shortly thereafter. 

On 10 August he proclaimed that the first Sunday in July be dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, which over time became a month-long celebration and reflection. 

It’s not a thing of the past—contemporary popes have also loved this devotion 

The Second Vatican Council downgraded the devotion from its status as a feast in 1969, because the Precious Blood was also venerated at the Passion, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Corpus Christi, and other feasts. 

Contemporary popes have continued to promote devotion to the Precious Blood.  

Pope John XXIII desired that “Christians meditate on it more fervently” and “savour its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion.” 

St Pope John Paull II encouraged us to “be witnesses of that communion which Christ brought about through the gift of his blood.” 

As recently as 2018 Pope Francis encouraged the devotion since the “blood of Christ is the fount of salvation for the world.” 

How to foster a devotion to the Precious Blood 

  • The Divine Mercy chaplet is a well-known prayer that has an immense focus on the blood of Christ. It is usually prayed for the conversion of sinners and mercy for the world. 
  • The Precious Blood chaplet, like the rosary, has five mysteries focused on the wounds of Jesus to reflect on while praying. 

So as we enter July, let us think about the profound love and sacrifice of Christ and consider taking up this devotion for ourselves and “for the sake of the whole world.” 

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