Unconditional Love Honored at Blessing of Animals
The tradition honors St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
The relationship between man and pet is like no other. An animal’s love is unconditional. To those living alone, pets can be a companion or considered family. Some animals visit hospitals and care facilities where children and adults can pet and cuddle with them, giving hope and comfort during recovery.
“Animals are an important part of God’s creation,” said the Rev. Martha Boyer of Solomon’s UCC in Macungie. “They are great companions for us and we expect them to be in heaven with us.”
But in addition to being a great comfort, they give us insight into the divine.
“We give thanks to God for our animal companions and can see how He shows His love for us through animals,” said the Rev. Samantha Drennan of Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church.
Several churches recently conducted Blessing of the Animals services, held outdoors in a garden or on a lawn. Each animal was welcomed with a prayer and some were gently sprinkled with holy water or given treats.
“The day is coordinated with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals,” said the Rev. Martin Milne of Zion’s Lutheran Church. "He believed all creation deserves the blessings of God, including animals.”
St. Francis of Assisi's feast day is Oct. 4, so blessing ceremonies are traditionally observed in the first half of October.
According to some accounts, St. Francis preached to the birds. As they sat and listened, he told them to always praise God in all they do.
“St. Francis gave up his belongings and led a simple life while he took care of the animals,” said the Rev. Jerel Gade of St. Peter’s Union Church. “Honoring him shows that God is in every aspect of creation.”