All Creatures Welcome, Six Doggies Apart
I first learned of the Blessing of the Animals when we lived in Spain. My daughter, Kim, came home one day and said, “We need to take Alegria (her horse) to the Blessing of the Animals.” Really? Okay! And that was the beginning of St. Francis in my life. Even though I heard he began as a rich playboy who partied too much or at the very least he had an exuberant love of life and a spirit of worldliness, which made him a recognized leader of young men in his town.
Saint Francis of Assisi was born in Italy in 1181 or 82 and died in 1226. He founded several religious orders and had great evangelical zeal and personal charisma drawing thousands of followers. Saint Francis loved all animals and is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He is remembered for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to minister to the lepers.
Since Spain I have been to several blessings with my Shih Tzus, Mika and Mandy, at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, and Casa de Maria before the mudslide. It is celebrated on or around October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis. Any kind of animal is welcome, but Father O’Mahony isn’t too keen on snakes! This year we were outdoors by the church, six doggies apart, because of the pandemic.
You don’t have to be religious – you can bless your animals at home. A priest would say to the animal, “May you (animal’s name) and (your owner’s name) enjoy life together and find joy with the God who created you.” I keep a statue of St. Francis on my piano, not to be religious, but because he was a good guy. Everyone is welcome to an animal blessing.