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St. Aidan Episcopal Church to host pet blessing Oct. 7

Legend has it St. Francis of Assisi preached to flocks of birds, tamed mosquitoes so they would no longer bite him and even got a wolf to change its hunting habits.

In the city of Gubbio, Italy, where Francis lived for some time, a wolf was stalking and devouring humans and animals. However, when Francis found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to hurt no one. The wolf laid down at the feet of Francis, signifying its human-hunting days were over. In exchange, the people of Gubbio were to feed the wolf for the rest of its life.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Father Scott Dolph, rector of St. Aidan Episcopal Church, blesses several animals each year during a service honoring St. Francis of Assisi. This year's ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.

Over the centuries, Francis, who also composed the famous poetic hymn to creation known as “The Canticle of the Sun,” has been hailed as the first saint of the environment and has long been portrayed holding animals in his arms. One church that keeps the memory of the animal-loving medieval preacher alive year after year is St. Aidan Episcopal Church, 17405 N.E. Glisan St., which will host its annual pet blessing at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 7. The ceremony honors St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4.

Last year about 80 folks showed up with cats, dogs and even a goat for the service, says Father Scott Dolph, St. Aidan’s rector.

“You know that quote that ‘Beer is proof that God loves us?’ “ Father Dolph says. “I think our pets are proof that God loves us.”

The blessing ceremony is popular because “our culture has a love affair with our pets and animals,” he says, adding, “for the kids I think it’s wonderful because we’re teaching them about our stewardship of the earth, of creation.”

Folks are invited to come forward and talk about what their pets mean to them during the service, he says, adding people also are invited to reflect on their pets that have died.

Over almost two decades of presiding at such services, Father Dolph says he’s seen plenty of cats, dogs, birds, gerbils and hamsters, but no fish yet.

“Maybe because it’s hard to get an aquarium in there,” he adds with a chuckle.

Volunteers and representatives from Canine Companions for Independence and other animal welfare organizations will be on hand with some of their creatures to be blessed during the service, as well as talk about their programs afterward during the coffee time.

The public is encouraged to attend with their pets, be they furry, feathered or scaly.



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