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Blessings of the animals

On Saturday afternoon, several local animal lovers and their canines gathered in the courtyard of St. Thomas Episcopal Church for a special service led by the church’s rector, the Reverend Linda Suzanne Borgen.

The occasion was the Blessing of the Animals, held each October in honor and memory of Saint Francis of Assisi, who loved “all creatures great and small.”

The Reverend Borgen led the service of readings and prayers, with those in attendance participating in the Canticle. The rector then moved around the courtyard to bless each animal individually. Each family present also received a special St. Francis medallion from the rector’s assistant for the service, St. Thomas parishioner Cemira Powell.

Following the blessings, the pet owners joined with Borgen to recite the Lord’s Prayer and a second prayer attributed to St. Francis:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

“This is always a special service for us. We are so thankful for these animals who are part of our families, and what they mean to all of us who love them and appreciate the companionship they give us,” said the Reverend Borgen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived in 12th century Italy, was known for his desire to live a simple life devoted to God and all his creatures, including the four-legged variety. He created the first known Christmas nativity scene, not one featuring figures made of wood or clay, but of living people representing Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and angels. And to that group he added a donkey, sheep, cattle and other creatures. When asked about this, Francis said, “Surely the animals praised the new Messiah just as the angels and shepherds did.”