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Churches get ready for pet blessings

For two special days dogs, cats, toucans and even a salamander will be front and center as two churches in the county celebrate St. Francis’ Day at separate pet blessings.

On Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m. at St. Ann’s Church, 310 Third Ave., in the village of Chesapeake, the Rev. Charles Moran will hold a special Mass and blessing.

St. Ann’s has offered the blessing for the past four years. All animals and their owners are invited into the nave of the church for the blessing. Moran says he sees the animals as God’s creatures and belong in a sacred place.

Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Ironton will have its fourth pet blessing Saturday conducted by the Rev. Sallie Schisler, priest in charge at the church. That blessing will start at 2 p.m. in the garden next to the church on the corner of Fifth Street and Park Avenue.

A regular at the Christ Church blessing is Ella Lawless who always brings her 7-year-old toy poodle, Teagun O’Shea.

“Animals have a closeness to God and I think it is necessary,” Lawless said. “It is what St. Francis stood for, the animal life. It is a necessary thing to do.”

The actual feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, a Roman Catholic friar and founder of the Franciscan Order, is Oct. 4. He is known as the patron saints of animals and the environment.

One of the most famous stories of St. Francis is how he tamed a wolf that was ravaging the countryside by saying to the beast, ���Brother Wolf, I would like to make peace with you and the people.”

As he led the wolf into the village, the villagers made a pact with the wolf promising to feed him daily so he would no longer prey on their flocks.

Moran sees the pet blessing as one of the ways individuals can reconnect with their creator.

“One of the first sins of Adam and Eve brought about the separation from nature,” Moran said. “To heal that sin is to go back to respect all of God’s creation.”