Why Are There Pet Blessing Ceremonies?

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

Francis of Assisi

st francis painting with birds

So who is this guy Francis?

Francis Bernadone (1182-1226) was an Italian Catholic who loved God, people, animals, and nature. He was a former soldier who gave up his fighting armor, to dedicate his life to helping the poor instead. Francis is also known for trying to negotiate peace between the Muslims and Christians who were fighting at the time. Over the years, Saint Francis gained many followers and the religious order of Franciscan Friars was established. Around the world, St Francis is known as the patron saint of animals.

St Francis loved all of God’s creation and was seen preaching to groups of birds and other animals. He would talk to the birds and urge them to thank and praise their Creator.  Legend tells that Francis tamed a dangerous wolf who was terrorizing a village. The saint made a pact with the wolf, that if he stopped killing the village animals and people, he would receive food. The wolf agreed to the peace pact and became a pet of the townspeople who all ensured the wolf was fed.  

Pet Blessing Ceremonies

In honor of his love for God’s creatures, a church tradition now exists of blessing animals.  These pet blessing ceremonies are usually held outdoors. At this event, you’ll see dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals. The priest will say a special prayer and sprinkle the pet with holy water. 

What day is the blessing of the animals?

This tradition occurs around the world on the feast day of St. Francis, which is October 4th. If you’re interested in participating or just watching the ceremony, just contact your local Churches to find out where it’s offered in your city. 

What do you think of this tradition?

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