It was a particular celebration that was hosted in the Basilica of Gethsemane on Monday 1st July: the Solemnity of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, which St Paul VI associated with the celebration of Corpus Christi.
It is a celebration rich in symbols, starting from its very first gesture: scattering red rose petals on the stone which, according to tradition, was soaked with the blood of Jesus during his agony and which is remembered – with the same gesture – on the Thursday before Easter. In the Bible, blood always refers to the concept of sacrifice and the offering of life: starting from the pages of Genesis and Exodus. Blood represents a link in the story of a man with that of God. In the New Testament, it plays an even more significant role: with the Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, the most perfect revelation of the love of God the Father, from which the Church was born and around which we are united in every celebration and man obtains salvation from his sins.
This solemnity continues to be celebrated in the exact place where Jesus shed his blood. The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, who celebrated the Eucharist, underlined the Franciscan aspect of this solemnity. "St Francis mentions the Blood of Christ on numerous occasions,” he said during his comment on the Gospel, “as though to remind us that the whole life of Jesus is given for love.”The Custos, following in the steps of St Francis, underlined the close bond between the place of the celebration and two other places in Jerusalem: the Cenacle, where Jesus gave the sacrament of his body and his blood and Calvary where blood was shed for our salvation.
"Celebrating this feast, we remember everything that this day recalls,” commented Patton "the mystery of the life of Jesus, given wholly for love; the mystery of his humanity which is in tune with the will of his Father, but also the mystery of our call, thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit which allows us to receive the sacrament and follow in the steps of Jesus, being able, like him, to make of our lives a gift of love as Jesus did for his.”
As tradition has it, at the end of the celebration, many faithful stopped to pray at Gethsemane, on the stone placed under the altar, in memory of the work of the Blood of Jesus which redeemed us. Leaving, they took the rose petals with them: a symbol of the memory of Christ’s sacrifice.