October 4th marks the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi and the “Blessing of the Animals” for Catholics.
St. Francis of Assisi was a saint who loved animals and the environment because he saw God glorified in all of creation. He would bless fish that were caught and release them back into the water. According to his legend, he created an agreement between a wolf and the citizens of a town who were scared of it. Francis also used real animals to depict a live Christmas nativity scene.
The saint, who is the current Pope’s namesake and one of the famous revered Catholic figures, is known for his simplicity. While he grew up as the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in an Italian society with an extreme wealth gap, he eventually took the Gospel teaching “sell your possession and give to the poor” to heart. He lived close to the earth, called birds and creatures his brothers and sisters, and founded multiple religious orders to share his way of living with others.
In light of his beliefs about having a detachment from material possessions, he said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis lived this so fully that after a thief stole his hood once, Francis made of one of the brothers in his Order of Friars Minor run after the thief to offer him Francis’ robe.
Francis died in 1226 at the age of 45. He is considered the patron saint of animals, the environment, Italy, merchants, stowaways, Cub Scouts, and San Francisco, Calif.
To celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Catholics have a tradition of bringing their pets to church in order to get them blessed. Whether you’re Catholic or not, you can still use the spirit of the day to celebrate your own pets and any other animals that you like.
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