The Blessing of the Animals is held on or around Oct. 4 by Catholics and others wishing to pay homage to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Pet owners bring their dogs, cats, birds and other animals for prayers and blessings.
The Blessing of the Animals event marks the anniversary of St. Francis' death, which is recorded on Oct. 4, 1226, in Italy. The date also coincides with the Feast of St. Francis on Catholic calendars. St. Francis is well known for composing the "Canticle of Creatures," a religious song about animals and the earth, written in 1224 while he was recovering from an illness. In the song, St. Francis refers to animals as his brothers and sisters.
The annual Blessing of the Animals events generally feature prayers for the pets and sprinklings of holy water on their fur, feathers or scales. The messages presented are typically about how animals share in the lives of human beings while inhabiting the sky, earth and seas, according to CatholicCulture.org. Each pet is typically blessed individually by name and presented with encouraging words about health, healing and its relationship with human companions. Some Franciscan churches, according to Let All Creation Praise, recite a prayer that says in part: “We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”