On Saturday, October 5, as part of a three-day observance of the Feast of St. Francis, the friars of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., blessed animals brought to the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.
Franciscan Father Jim Gardiner led the blessing, and the friars greeted the people who brought a variety of their pets—mostly dogs and cats—to the gardens in front of the Monastery church. He read first from the creation story from the Book of Genesis, and then the story of St. Francis asking the birds to be silent when he was about to preach to the people.
“That reading from Genesis,” Fr. Jim noted, “is so easy to misinterpret. We think that God created the animals, and then thought, “not only was it good, but I’ve got a better idea, I think I‘ll create humans.” No, he said, “We can learn a lesson from those animals, how giving they are, how affectionate they are. And this is something we need….”
A large crowd was on hand to receive the blessing, and to introduce their pets to the friars of the Monastery, who extended individual blessings, and offered a special medal and bookmark as a remembrance of the day.