Blessing of Animals

Woman holding her dog

In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, pets from around the country receive a blessing this month—as well as confirmation for their owners that all of God’s creatures are cherished and beloved.

This time of year, people in various places may notice something odd. A procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses, is led to churches for a special ceremony called the Blessing of Pets. This custom is conducted in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.

Francis, whose feast day is October 4th, loved the larks flying about his hilltop town. He and his early brothers, staying in a small hovel, allowed themselves to be displaced by a donkey. Francis wrote a Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things. “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.” And there was testimony in the cause for Saint Clare of Assisi’s canonization that referred to her little cat!

That there are today over 62 million cats in the U.S. attests to the continuing affection we have for our furry, feathered or finned friends. We’ve even had a cat called Socks in the White House. Other popular presidential pets range from Abraham Lincoln’s Fido to Lyndon Johnson’s beagles, named Him and Her.

For single householders, a pet can be a true companion. Many people arrive home from work to find a furry friend overjoyed at their return. Many a senior has a lap filled with a purring fellow creature.

The bond between person and pet is like no other relationship, because the communication between fellow creatures is at its most basic. Eye-to-eye, a man and his dog, or a woman and her cat, are two creatures of love.

At Franciscan churches, a friar with brown robe and white cord often welcomes each animal with a special prayer. The Blessing of Pets usually goes like this:

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired Saint Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

As the prayer is offered, the pet is gently sprinkled with holy water. Believe it or not, most pets receive this sacramental spritz with dignity, though I must admit I have seen some cats flatten their ears a bit as the drops of water lightly pelt them.

But the owner is happy, and who knows what spiritual benefits may result?

Usually the Blessing of Pets is held outdoors. But I remember it rained one year, and all were invited inside St. Stephen’s Church in Manhattan. It was quite a sight to see pairs of creatures—one human, one animal—sitting in the pews. The pastor joined right in with his beagle. Noah’s Ark was never like this!

Some people criticize the amount and cost of care given to pets. People are more important, they say. Care for poor people instead of poodles. And certainly our needy fellow humans should not be neglected.

However, I believe every creature is important. The love we give to a pet, and receive from a pet, can draw us more deeply into the larger circle of life, into the wonder of our common relationship to our Creator.

Learn more about pet blessings!


12 thoughts on “Blessing of Animals”

  1. please pray fo thecats whose owner is very sick, pets are in kill shelter. They very need a safe home,. or they will be euthanased. Pray for the pets to be rescued and get adopted very soon. Thanks

  2. Natalia Nissen

    Hi where do I find the source for the Franciscan Pet Blessing and his ‘Prayer for Animals’
    Thank you very much

  3. Please pray that the dogs in the apartment do not bark, Pray. to keep them safe and secure. Neighbors who don’t like animals have complained. Spread out

  4. Pingback: St Francis Prayer for Sick Pets - Christian Faith Guide

  5. Jobelle Collie

    G-d Bless and Keep my Service Dog, Pilot and his best friend Apple. Apple is a one-eyed, balding Siamese Cat. We make a happy trio.

  6. Bobby Dass Madan

    Please help the poor white cat I saw today n not able to do anything Heavenly father.
    I hope a miracle will happen to it. It looks starved n sick!
    Please father, amen

  7. I am the one who made the decision to do the surgery for my sister’s dog. The vet called that her heartbeat is a bit abnormal. I m so sorry that I didn’t pray as I lost all my hope throughout the years. Forgive me. Please rescue my sister’s dog. Give her a ray of hope and a chance to survive. God, I know you have many prayers to listen. Please help, can’t you? Amen

    1. Daryl Hackbart

      The Holy Spirit hears our groans and our sighs even when we do not know it. Your willingness to aid in your sister’s dog’s surgery tells me that God was listening. God is bigger than all of us humans combined and can hear every prayer that is offered, intentional or not. God heard your prayer, don’t ever doubt that.

  8. Please pray for my Peanut who has been missing since Thursday. She is white and fluffy and I miss her so much. Heavenly Father return her to me,

    1. Prayers for Peanut’s safe return to her loving home. Please guide Peanut back to Flo’s arms. Amen

  9. Prayers for Joony’s continuing good health and happiness. Thank you for bringing this funny, lovable dog into our lives.

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