Sunday closest to October 4. In the Roman Catholic tradition, October 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis (1182-1226) was a monk who founded the contemporary order of Franciscans. He was known for his vow of poverty and his special connection to animals, among many other things. Many Unitarian Universalists have picked up on the Catholic tradition of blessing animals, particularly pets, on this day. St. Francis may receive little attention at this service, but a number of congregations will bless pets at the service. Some people bring their pets to church, others bring photographs of their pets; others have their pets blessed by naming them. Some congregations celebrate this service at other, variable times of the year.
Brenda Miller offers a compelling retelling of her first experience with such a service in her essay, Blessing of the Animals (PDF, 14 pages), which can be found in her Skinner House book, Listening Against the Stone: Selected Essays.
From Tapestry of Faith Curricula
Skinner House Publications
- Child's Book of Animal Blessings and Poems, edited by Eliza Blanchard
- In Praise of Animals: A Treasury of Poems, Quotations and Readings, edited by Edward Searl