Under the Christian liturgical calendar, October 4 was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the eponymous order and patron saint of animals. To honor him (in a wonderfully pagan throwback), various churches hold Blessings of the Animals, where pets and/or their proxies can receive a blessing in his name. At some churches (such as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York), this is a huge deal.
Out here in the ‘burbs, it was a quieter but no less heartfelt affair. Various dogs, cats, and their attendant humans gathered in the garden at our local Presbyterian church, where the pastors had organized a sweet little service. Since none of the Abbey’s denizens wished to attend in person, the Coop Mistress was sent with collars (for the cats) and a hen saddle (for the chickens) to be blessed.
As should be no surprise, the attendees sorted themselves into dog people and cat people automatically, and not just those who had animals with them. Everyone was very friendly, but the immediate formation of dog and cat camps was amusing. Most cats, as is their wont, sent proxies for their blessings; I was honored, however, to have the privilege of meeting a 20-year-old cat named Maisie, who came with no carrier but lounged in her human’s arms, serenely watching the goings on and patiently waiting for the cat treats to be distributed. Just looking into her sweet green eyes was a blessing in and of itself.
When it was my turn for a blessing, I gave the names of the animals on whose behalf I was there. Apparently, not many chickens or their representatives attend this ceremony, so afterwards there was a Q&A. I love blowing people’s minds with how intelligent and kind chickens are. Perhaps next year Jenny will have to put in an appearance as spokeschicken. I know she would have a lot to say to St. Francis.
Back home, no one wanted to wear their newly-blessed items but were willing to pose with them. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Perhaps by the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot I’ll be able to wrestle the collars on these two.