By Charly SHELTON
Tuesday is the feast of Saint Francis, celebrating the 12th century founder of the First Order, or the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscan monks. Francis is also the Christian patron saint of the environment and animals. To commemorate the feast day, many churches hold a blessing of the animals service to bring parishioners’ fuzzy friends closer to God. In the Crescenta Valley, many churches will be taking part in the celebration this weekend as it is the closest Sunday to the feast.
“We’re planning on having a big service, depending on the weather, either outside on the patio or in Sadler Hall, which is the community room,” said Rev. Kirby Smith of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church in La Crescenta. “It will be a bilingual service starting Sunday at 11 a.m. and we’re asking people to bring any kind of pet that they might have. We’ll be having a shortened service and inside of that service will be the prayers in the blessing of the animals.”
St. Luke’s has held a blessing of the animals service each year since their return to the Episcopal diocese in 2009. This marks their seventh blessing of the animals service and Rev. Smith said they are now very familiar with how to run a church service for animals.
“Expect that it will be informal and we know that pets are going to be pets, so there shouldn’t be any kind of embarrassment over what your pet might do,” Rev. Smith said. “It’s fun, we’re going to have a big potluck afterwards with goodies for the pets. It’s just a really great day to celebrate God’s creatures and the bond that we have with our pets.”
St Luke’s is located at 2563 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta.
Across the Crescenta Valley, another church will be welcoming furry parishioners for a blessing. St. Bede’s Catholic Church in La Cañada will hold its service on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the courtyard of the church.
“We do this every year around the feast day of Saint Francis,” said Jerri Nicol, communications coordinator for St. Bede’s. “Our pastor, Monsignor Antonio Cacciapuoti, will be blessing them and we will have a little service that includes singing and Scripture. Then he will go around individually to each of the animals and bless them. It’s very traditional in our church because Saint Francis was someone who loved animals so much that we now carry that on.”
Not only are the pets invited to the church service, they get souvenirs of their visit to show off
to their pet friends at home.
“We always make sure that we give each of the pets a little bag that has a vial of holy water that’s been used to bless them as well as a medal that reads ‘Bless My Pet’ and a holy card with a prayer of Saint Francis on the back,” Nicol said.
Nicol added that the church would like to invite all animals, they don’t have to be Catholic, and that they can bring their owners if they promise to keep them leashed.
St. Bede the Venerable is located at 215 Foothill Blvd. in La Cañada.
St. George’s Episcopal Church in La Cañada will also hold a blessing of the animals service at 10 a.m. on Sunday. They are located at 808 Foothill Blvd.