It was a blessing to be outside at a Salina church Sunday afternoon, literally. On what turned out to be a beautiful fall afternoon over twenty pets were blessed during a very special service at the Christ Cathedral Gazebo Garden.
The Very Rev. David B. Hodges and the Rev. Shay Craig presided over a “Blessing of the Animals” service. All pet owners and their animals were welcome at the event outside the Christ Cathedral, no matter what church they attend.
As sunshine began to breakthrough the clouds to provide warmth, 23 dogs and over 30 people gathered. Following a short service the clergy walked among the dogs, blessing each individually.
The blessing of animals event was in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi developed as a direct result of St. Francis’s own understanding of the kinship shared by humans with all other creatures by virtue of having the same creator, God. Francis, who founded the Franciscan Order, was a great lover of animals and is even said to have preached to the birds about their duty to praise God. Although the specific customs about blessing animals vary from place to place, one common feature is that prayers are offered not only for the animals themselves but also for the people who care for them.
As the service concluded Sunday afternoon each animal was offered a treat to eat, and also a St. Francis medallion as they departed.