St. Mary’s celebrates Saint Francis with live animal blessing service

We’re taught that we’re all God’s creatures. Saint Francis of Assisi didn’t think that creatures should just be designated for humans, but should be inclusive to all living things. Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, could be seen as one of the eco-friendly papals and today catholics around the world celebrate his feast day.

Father Biju blesses two horses with holy water during the outdoor mass, featuring a live animal blessing to honor the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis. (Courtesy Photo)
Father Biju blesses two horses with holy water during the outdoor mass, featuring a live animal blessing to honor the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis. (Courtesy Photo)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

We’re taught that we’re all God’s creatures. Saint Francis of Assisi didn’t think that creatures should just be designated for humans, but should be inclusive to all living things. Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, could be seen as one of the eco-friendly papals and today catholics around the world celebrate his feast day.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is no different, in fact six years ago, they opened one Wednesday service (usually around the day of the feast of Saint Francis of October 4), to an outdoor mass with a live animal blessing.

According to HumaneSociety.org, 47 states and the District of Columbia currently offer similar services around October 4 to honor the patron saint.

The outdoor service, and animal blessing, took place on Wednesday, October 7 on the east side of St. Mary’s church, during religion release at 2 p.m.

“We celebrate the feast of Saint Francis every October,” Anne Wolf said. “We have an outdoor mass and and a live animal blessing.”

The children hold their animals during mass, then following the service the priest walks around and blesses the animals with holy water.

“The kids look forward to it all year, they really look forward to it,” Wolf said.

This year Wolf said there were around 25 animals including dogs, cats and horses. From year to year, the species have ranged from domesticated animals to farm livestock including chickens, goats, calves and even frogs.

The priest talks about St. Francis and how it is good to take care of your animals. The service usually takes the allotted 50 minutes that is designated for religion release.

This is the sixth year that St. Mary’s has held this type of service. Wolf said that the very first year they had a chicken get loose, and now letters are sent home that say animals need to be either leashed or held, as to keep control during the service.

In 1979 Pope John Paul II recognized St. Francis with another honor, saying that because of his love for all creatures he would be deemed the patron saint of ecology, adding to his recognition as the patron saint of animals. Pope John Paul II said that everyone should follow St. Francis’ love for all creatures and treat living things as  family members with dignity and care.

Saint Francis was a very peaceful person, and outside of his affinity for all living creatures he also tried to make peace between Muslims and Christians during the fifth crusade. He also was known for his tender care of lepers.

So every year, St. Mary’s takes one service a year and ventures outside to worship with God’s creation and God’s creatures, and the congregation learns about the patron saint that had a tender heart and care for everything under the sun.

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