Here's a press release from the Redemptorists. I am usually skeptical about "first-ever" claims, but this one seems to be a good bet. Pass on the word.
To be held at Redemptorist parishes, retreat centers across the country
DENVER,Colo. -- On Sunday, August 1, the Redemptorists, an order of Catholic priests and brothers, will be offering the first-ever, national "Blessing for Arthritics" after each and every Mass at their parishes and retreat centers across the country.
The blessings will be held on this particular Sunday because August 1 is the feast day of their founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787), a doctor of the Church and also the patron saint of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. St. Alphonsus himself suffered from severe arthritis for the last forty years of his life. The disease left him permanently bent forward and confined to a wheelchair.
"This is the first blessing of its kind, as far as we know, on a national scale, for people who suffer the chronic and debilitating agonies of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other serious physical conditions," said the Very Reverend Thomas D. Picton, C.Ss.R., provincial superior of the Denver Province. "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."
The blessings are open to the public. Prayer cards to St. Alphonsus Liguori will also be distributed as part of the blessing ceremony.
For a complete list of participating parishes and retreat centers, please go to www.redemptoristsdenver.org and click on the "Blessing" banner. For those who cannot attend but would like to receive a virtual blessing online, delivered by Father Robert Halter, and a prayer card to St. Alphonsus, please go to the same website.