St Mary’s Pet Blessing service provides an opportunity to show our gratitude for God’s gift of creation. Pets arrived at St Mary’s – from the smallest guinea pig to the largest dog, and everything in between – for this annual service in which the priest blesses each animal. The service includes activities for children and refreshments for people as well as pets.
This custom is conducted in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. Francis, whose feast day is October 4th, loved the larks flying about his hilltop town. He and his early brothers, staying in a small hovel, allowed themselves to be displaced by a donkey.
Francis wrote a Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things. “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.” And there was testimony in the cause for Saint Clare of Assisi’s canonization that referred to her little cat!
That there are today so many pet owners in England attests to the continuing affection we have for our furry, feathered or finned friends. We’ve even have Larry the cat at 10 Downing Street.
For single householders, a pet can be a true companion. Many people arrive home from work to find a furry friend overjoyed at their return. Many a senior has a lap filled with a purring fellow creature.
The bond between person and pet is like no other relationship, because the communication between fellow creatures is at its most basic. Eye-to-eye, a man and his dog, or a woman and her cat, are two creatures of love.