Earlier this month, many churches here in the U.S. celebrated the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with services that included the blessing of animals. St. Francis, born in the 12th century, was a lover of nature, looked on all creatures as his brothers and sisters, and is the patron saint of animals and the environment. His feast day is October 4.
My parish used to have the animal blessing service outside, but for the past couple of years the animals have been invited into the building, not just to be blessed, but for the entire Eucharist. At the service we attend, all the animals inside the church were dogs, and all behaved very well. The horse behaved as well but stayed outside.
From my vantage point in the pew, I captured a few shots…
“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)