DENVER –– Redemptorists across the United States will conduct a “Blessing for Arthritics” Aug. 1 after all Masses at parishes and retreat centers staffed by the order.

The date was chosen because it is the feast day of the Redemptorists’ founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori, who is also the patron saint of those who suffer from arthritis.

St. Alphonsus himself suffered from arthritis the last 40 years of his life, which left him hunched forward and confined to a wheelchair.

“We hope this is the beginning of an annual tradition that brings people to our churches to ask for the blessing and intercession of our great saint on his feast day and to beseech our Father in heaven to grant these suffering souls deliverance from their pains,” said a July 30 statement from Redemptorist Fr. Thomas Picton, superior of the order’s Denver province.

Fr. Picton added it was the first time to his knowledge that such a nationwide blessing event had taken place.

The blessing is intended for people who suffer from arthritis, fibromyalgia and other serious physical conditions, and is open to all. Prayer cards will be distributed as part of the blessing ceremony.

A list of participating parishes and retreat centers is available on the Web site. The site also offers a prayer card and a “virtual blessing” for those unable to attend in person.