The month of July is traditionally dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In some dioceses, a feast in honor of the Precious Blood was celebrated as early as the fifteenth century, on the Monday after Trinity Sunday. This feast was instituted for the Universal Church in 1849 by Blessed Pope Pius IX and set on the 1st day of July. During this time, the Pope had been forced to flee Rome due to the revolutionaries who saw the existence of the Papal States and temporal power of the Pope as a threat to the unification of Italy. While seeking refuge in Naples, Blessed Pius IX instituted the feast. In 1933, nineteen hundred years after the Passion of Our Lord, Pope Pius XI raised the feast to the rank of a double of the first class, which it remained until it was combined with the feast of Corpus Christi in the General Roman Calendar of 1969, following the Second Vatican Council. Pope St. John XXIII added the invocation, “Blessed be His Most Precious Blood” to the Divine Praises and approved the Litany of the Most Precious Blood in 1960.
The Blood of the Lamb
In the Old Testament, the blood of the Paschal Lamb saved the people of Israel from physical death during the final plague freeing them from slavery to both the Egyptians and their gods. the first words that are spoken to describe Our Lord in the Gospel according to St. John are St. John the Baptist saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29) This is so important that the Baptist repeats the description and it is clearly a theme that runs through the whole Gospel, as is clearly seen in St. John’s Passion Narrative.
St. John does not include an institution narrative in his record of the Last Supper. The Synoptic Gospels describe the Last Supper as a Paschal meal (although there is no mention of a lamb being eaten). For St. John, Our Lord is the Lamb of God, the new Paschal Lamb so he makes a point of stating that Our Lord was condemned around noon (the sixth hour), which was the time that the priests started sacrificing the Paschal lambs in the Temple during the Second Temple period. St. John is also the one who points out that, unlike the thieves with whom He was crucified, Our Lord did not have His bones broken. The prophecy that St. John claims to be fulfilled by this event is the instruction given by Moses concerning the Paschal Lamb: “Not a bone of it shall be broken.” (Exodus 12:26). Moreover, St. John is the only evangelist who records Our Lord saying “I thirst” from the Cross. The soldiers offer Jesus some vinegar (most likely posca, a fermented drink favored by Roman soldiers because it was cheap) in response with a sponge placed on a sprig of hyssop (19:29). This seems odd, until one recalls that on the night of Pesach (Passover) the Israelites spread the blood of the Paschal Lamb on the lintels and doorposts of their homes with a sprig of hyssop. (Exodus 12:21).
In the book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of St. John, Our Lord is almost always referred to as the Lamb. He is described as “standing, as though it had been slain” (5:6) and “Worthy…to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God” (5:9) St. John later describes the foundations of the Heavenly Jerusalem as inscribed with the “names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (21:14) The blood of the Christ is the price of our salvation and thus is very powerful against the forces of evil. Exorcists have recommended the recitation of the Auxilium Christianorum prayers for protection against diabolical influence. These devotions include the recitation of the Litany of the Precious Blood every day. Binding prayers also invoke the power of the Most Precious Blood against demons.
Adoration of and devotion to the Most Precious Blood generally focuses on seven times when the Precious Blood was shed. The first of these was at His circumcision, foreshadowing those that followed at His Agony in the Garden, when he sweat blood, His Scourging, Crowning with Thorns, and when carried His Cross, was nailed to it and finally when St. Longinus pierced His side with a spear. The scientific analysis that has been done of the Shroud of Turin, widely believed to be and venerated as the burial shroud of Our Lord, has determined that the type of the blood stains on the Shroud are AB, which is both extremely rare and a universal receptor. In various Eucharistic miracles where a Host has bled like at Orvieto or the accidents of wine disappeared when the substance was changed to blood at the consecration like at Lanciano, scientific analysis also found these samples to be the same blood type AB. Thus, the type of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is likely AB.