It was literally a blessing to gather outside a Salina church Sunday afternoon for a special event. On a beautiful fall afternoon, pets were blessed during a very special service at the Christ Cathedral Gazebo Garden.
The Very 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.
Under a warm fall sun about 50 animals, including among others two professional service dogs, three professional therapy dogs, and their families gathered at the church gazebo garden. Following a short service the clergy walked among the dogs, blessing each individually. Each animal was blessed with a personal prayer and a light sprinkle of holy water.
The blessing of animals event was in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
The St. Francis Blessing of the Animals Service connects local pet and animal lovers with the Cathedral, as it “loves all” in the tradition of St. Francis, patron saint of the environment and animals.
A renowned friar from Assisi, Italy, St. Francis is said to have spoken to a wolf and to have preached to birds. Born of an affluent family, St. Francis received a call to dedicate his life to ministry to the most vulnerable of God’s creatures, including humans. He is the founder of the religious Order of St. Francis.
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 St. Francis medal for its collar, and a baggie of pet treats as they departed.
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