Why do we bless pets on this day?
St. Francis of Assisi lived in Italy in the 12th century. Having grown up in a wealthy family, he renounced his wealth and worldly possessions and lived very simply.
When Francis spoke, everyone listened, including the animals. He told the animals that Jesus loved them too. There is a story of a wolf who lived in the town of Gubbio. The wolf came into the town each evening, frightening the inhabitants or eating them. Francis went to speak to “Brother Wolf” and found out that the wolf was hungry. Francis explained that that was not reason enough to eat people and their pets or to terrorize them. The wolf became very gentle, the people fed him and he gave the children in the town rides on his back.
Francis brought us the Christmas creche. In the town of Gubbio, he built a small outdoor stable and put people in the stable to portray Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels. Then he added the animals – cow, donkey, sheep, etc. When asked, Francis said, “Surely the animals praised the new Messiah just as the shepherds and angels did.”
And so in honor of this blessed saint of the church we gather today with our animals – our pets, our service animals, police dogs and horses, zoo animals and all God’s creatures and give thanks for what they do for us and for what they mean to us.