On October 4 and the days to follow, Catholics all over the world are invited to bring their pets to church for a blessing in a celebration of the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment. On that day, onlookers are presented with an unusual sight — a procession of dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, and the odd bird and goldfish, assemble along with their human caretakers to ask for God’s blessing.
Check out this adorable gallery of our 4 legged friends:
In some churches, the proceedings are conducted just outside the church, or perhaps in the rectory garden, and offer the Church a very public way to share with the world Francis of Assisi’s love for all creation, including the animals, which he called our brothers and sisters.
“My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.” — St. Francis of Assisi
In other churches (see the photo gallery below), four-legged friends are welcomed inside, and can be seen resting in the aisle, or seated in the pews with their humans as the priest reads from Scripture:
In the beginning,] God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.” And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” Evening came and morning followed-the fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.” And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. (Genesis 1:20-25)