In honor of St. Francis Day, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals this Sunday, Oct. 5, following the 10 a.m. service.
The blessing of the animals is a tradition that remembers St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. St. Francis was a great lover of animals and the outdoors and it is said he had a special kinship with both. According to legend, he was able to preach to animals command their attention. St. Francis preached the world was good and beautiful, but in great danger due to the sin of man.
Each year, on the first Sunday in October, Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s offers special blessings on animals brought to the church. These animals mostly consist of cats and dogs, but the menagerie also has included horses, lizards, hamsters, geckos, birds, goats, and others.
“The only thing I refuse to bless,” says Fr. Doug, “is snakes. I feel that since St. Patrick ran all the snakes out of Ireland, I have some ground to stand on here.”
Members of the community are invited to bring their animals to the church parking lot around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, following the 10 a.m. service to receive a blessing. It is always great fun, slightly chaotic, and filled with blessings.