Blessing honors four-legged friends

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, October 1, 2014

So far a soft shell crab is the most unusual pet the Rev. Charles Moran has blessed at St. Ann’s celebration of the Feast of St. Francis. It came in its own aquarium.

Moran is still waiting for something more than the garden variety of cat and dog. A horse, perhaps. Or even a python.

But all are welcome each year as the Chesapeake church opens its doors to all creatures great and small.

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This year St. Ann’s will offer its pet blessing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8.

“We always need to recognize we have a relationship with the four parts of creation,” Moran said. “With ourselves, with God, with others and with nature.”

This year Christ Episcopal Church will hold its pet blessing following the regular Sunday service. Usually the service is in the garden on a Saturday, but diocesan-scheduling conflicts changed that.

So parishioners can come to church at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, with their furry or feathery favorite and join the blessing service scheduled for noon.

“If they are indoor pets, they can come in and hang out indoors,” the Rev. Sallie Schisler said. “If they are outside dogs, we can always put them in the garden.”

According to the church calendar, St. Francis Feast Day, which is Oct. 4, honors the priest and founder of the Franciscan Order. He is known in the church as the patron saint of animals because of his Canticle of Creatures, also known as the Canticle of Brother Sun. It is made up of three sections — praising God for the sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire and earth; praising those who forgive for the love of God and praising bodily death.

“He had an incredibly gentle spirit,” Schisler said. “He felt a great oneness with all of creation. It is important to honor all creation. This is one way we do that. Animals bring us incredible joy and comfort. It seems only proper to bless their creation and preservation.”