Blessing of the Animals taking place Saturday on Episcopal Church lawn

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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Each fall St. John’s Episcopal Church holds a Blessing of the Animals service on the church lawn on East Broughton Street. This year it will be held on Saturday, October 5 beginning at 10 a.m.

The stories of the origin of the practice vary. One version says it is usually held the first weekend of October in conjunction with World Animal Day, observed Oct. 4, as an international day of action that began in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy to highlight the plight of endangered species.

Many Anglican and Catholic churches observe the ritual in conjunction with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, acknowledging his love for all creatures great and small.

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It is believed that St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment, had a special relationship with animals, even with being able to communicate with them.

St. John’s Church has observed the tradition for many years and they invite the community to bring their pets for a special blessing that includes the owners. After a brief service of prayer, song and reading of the Gospel, the priest goes from one pet to another, laying a hand upon each head and calling each by name, as the blessing from God is delivered.

Locally, the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society often brings a dog or cat that is available for adoption to receive a special blessing.

The service is open to all people and their pets. The only condition being that all animals be secured on a leash or in a carrier for their safety as well as that of others.

People planning to attend are encouraged to bring dog and/or cat food to be donated to the Humane Society.