They came with their dogs and their cats and other beloved family pets of all kinds.
The Blessing of the Animals is a long-standing tradition at the Franciscan Center, named for St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th century Italian friar and evangelist considered one of history’s most revered religious figures.
Such blessings are common at Christian churches and centers near St. Francis’s feast day, celebrated on Oct. 4. St. Francis is known for his love of animals and the environment, with many stories of how he befriended creatures such as birds and wolves.
Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1 billion Roman Catholics, specifically chose his papal name in honor of the venerated saint he admires. Sister Anne Dougherty, director of the Franciscan Center, says the new pope is following in the footsteps of his namesake.
“He’s doing just what Francis stood for,” Dougherty said. “He’s out there with the people, not isolating himself. He’s caring for the poor, speaking out against violence and promoting peace. It’s very cool to see this pope live up to what St. Francis is all about.”
A staff report