Last Saturday, island pets brought their human friends to St. John's Episcopal Church, in celebration of a day dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, regarded as the patron saint of animals. Clergy of the island recognized this day by celebrating the 13th annual St. Francis Feast Day with a Blessing of the Animals at 11 a.m.
About 100 chairs were set up under the massive oak tree outside St. John's as people started gathering as early as 10 a.m.
The Rev. Ryan Wright, vicar of St. John's, introduced Father Michael Hughes from Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Pastor Roger Lemke, from Fishers of Men Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Michael Hughes blessing animals at St. John’s.
Wright delivered the opening acclamation. Hughes delivered the Prayer of Thanksgiving and Lemke delivered the closing prayer.
Everything from dogs, cats and birds were led to the church for this special ceremony that brings together pet owners and animal lovers to "share in fellowship." Each pet received a personalized certificate indicating that it has received a blessing.
The certificate said: "Pets name received a blessing and was sprinkled in a manner likened unto the ancient blessing of animals by Francis of Assisi."
St. Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro Bernardone, was an Italian Catholic Friar and preacher. Though he was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, St. Francis is one of the most idolized people in Catholic history.
This event was open to everyone even if they didn't have a pet. A few people brought pictures of their pets to be blessed.
The ladies of St. John's sponsored a bake sale before and after the blessing. Hot dogs, chips, soft drinks and water were served.