For many dioceses there are two days to which the Office of the Precious Blood has been assigned, the office being in both cases the same. The reason is this: the office was at first granted to the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood only. Later, as one of the offices of the Fridays of Lent, it was assigned to the Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent. In many dioceses these offices were adopted also by the fourth Provincial Council of Baltimore (1840). When Pius IX went into exile at Gaeta (1849) he had as his companion the saintly Don Giovanni Merlini, third superior general of the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood . Arrived at Gaeta, Merlini suggested that His Holiness make a vow to extend the feast of the Precious Blood to the entire Church if he would again obtain possesion of the papal dominions. The pope took the matter under consideration, but a few days later sent his domestic prelate Jos. Stella to Merlini with the message: "The pope does not deem it expedient to bind himself by a vow ; instead His Holiness is pleased to extend the feast immediately to all Christendom ". This was 30 June, 1849, the day the French conquered Rome and the republicans capitulated. The thirtieth of June had been a Saturday before the first Sunday of July, wherefore the pope decreed (10 August, 1849) that henceforth every first Sunday of July should be dedicated to the Most Precious Blood.
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