The time-honoured tradition of blessing animals returns to a Saanich church in early October.
St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service on Sunday, Oct. 6, starting at 2:30 p.m.
The church has geared the service of some 30 minutes towards towards children, families, and all pet lovers, who may bring their pets themselves, or pictures thereof, including deceased ones, so that the pet can be blessed or remembered.
In the past, parishioners have brought a range of animals to the service, from familiar household pets ones such as cats and dogs, to exotic one such as lizards, to farm animals, including a llama. Two years ago, a toddler brought his plush toy, Lammy.
St. Luke’s service will follow a service by Central Saanich United Church, which has scheduled a Blessing of the Animals for Aug. 25 at 10:15 a.m. Rev. Allan Saunders will be blessing pets and celebrating their contribution to owners’ well-being. Afterwards, owners will receive a certificate noting the endorsement.
Saint Francis of Assisi, one of Christendoms most important and influential figures thanks to his teachings around poverty and ecological conservation, is the inspiration behind the service.
Considered the patron saint of animals, stories accord St. Francis a special relationship with animals, which hold a special place in Christian teachings, as the Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb of God and several biblical stories use animals to make large points about the treatment of the natural environment and the vulnerable.
A medieval monk, St. Francis considered animals fellow Christians and his official biography bursts with stories that show him preaching to animals of various kinds including birds. According to one account, the founder of the Franciscan order among other religious orders even managed to tame a wolf.