Bless the beasts and the children

Emma, Maty, and Sami Taggart hug Jasmine, their rescue Great Dane, at St. Joseph School during the annual Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.
Photo by Stephanie Richer

The beasts and children were indeed blessed Oct. 4 on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the beloved Catholic saint
long associated with animals, as St. Joseph School celebrated its annual Blessing of the Animals.

Led by Father John Orr, the school children listened to scripture, sang hymns, and proudly showed off their pets, as parents smiled and struggled to rein in the excited animals.

At the conclusion of the readings and prayers, Father Orr walked among the gathered animals and sprinkled Holy Water on fur, feather, and fin.

“You talk about the domestication of animals,” said Father Orr, “what about the domestication of St. Francis?” He noted that while many may not know St. Francis’ story completely or celebrate his feast day, the patron saint of animals and the environment occupies a prominent place in people’s gardens and backyards. A statue of the founder of the Franciscan order is a popular fixture in the landscaping around homes.

Father Orr noted that a quote of St. Francis can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  “Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him . . .”  The associate pastor at Holy Ghost Church and St. Joseph joked that many people prefer not hearing a lesson like that, which is why St. Francis preached to the animals, because they were the only ones who would listen to him.

The good saint certainly would have been pleased by the devotion shown by the children of St. Joseph School, leaving no doubt that St. Francis of Assisi intercedes for them and their pets.

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