Creatures great and small will join their human owners Sunday as a Saanich church continues a time-honoured tradition of blessing animals.
St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service on Sunday, Sept. 30, starting at 2:30 p.m.
The service scheduled to last 30 minutes recognizes the contributions of animals to the emotional and spiritual well-being of humans.
“Pets, in a way, remind us of God,” said Reverend Daniel Fournier during his sermon last year. “Why do they remind us of God? Because pretty much no matter what, they are so loving, and they continue to love.”
Saint Francis of Assisi, one of Christendoms most important and influential figures thanks to his teachings around poverty and ecological conservation, is the inspiration behind the service.
Considered the patron saint of animals, stories accord St. Francis a special relationship with animals, which hold a special place in Christian teachings, as the Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb of God and several biblical stories use animals to make large points about the treatment of the natural environment and the vulnerable.
As for St. Francis, the medieval monk considered animals fellow Christians and his official biography bursts with stories that show him preaching to animals of various kinds including birds. According to one account, the founder of the Franciscan order among other religious orders even managed to tame a wolf, who had been terrorizing the residents of Gubbio and their livestock.
While it would be highly unusual for an example of a canis lupus to walk the pews Sunday, the event usually draws a wide variety of animals, from reptiles (which do not exactly enjoy the best reputation in the Bible) to mammals, mainly cats and dogs. Last year, a toddler brought his plush toy, Lammy.
Other Saanich churches, whether they be Anglican or Catholic, have also offered similar services. Three years ago, Edmund, a llama from Rose-N-Sun Farm in Saanich, made its way into St. George’s Anglican Church during its Blessing of the Animals service.
While these services have an undeniable public relations effect, it is hard to deny that they create a unique sense of fellowship.