Welcome back again to another festive article! We talked about some festivals around the world that celebrate animals, from the colorful Holi, the dragon dance in Chinese New Year, and even Cat Day! Almost all of them are correlated with religious beliefs, including the one that we are going to talk about, which is the Feast of St. Francis of Asisi!
The Feast of St. Francis Asisi is celebrated by many Catholics worldwide on every October 4. As you can tell from the name, this event commemorates St Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Mainly, people will come to the churches and bring their pets with them, since the Feast of St. Francis event is held with animal blessing and prayers. Yup, you read it right. Animal blessing. It is believed that every creature, not only human, has to be ‘blessed’. Any type of animal can be blessed, from the common pets, like dogs, cats, birds, rodents, and reptiles, to the horses, donkeys, or even working animals like military or police dogs!
The feast of St. Francis of Asisi, is actually an important day in Assisi, Italy. The event itself is to commemorate the transition of St. Francis into the afterlife. St. Francis is known for his great love for animals and the environment and associated with patronage of animals and the environment. That is why churches hold a ceremony of animals blessing on or near his feast day, which is October 4.
Nowadays, the feast of St. Francis is celebrated worldwide, from Europe, Asia, Australia, US, Canada, and more, as long as Saint Francis is honored in the Catholic Churches, for example in the Church of England, the Episcopal Church USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, and others churches or religious communities. Even though the feast of St Francis of Asisi is not a public holiday in many countries, it is still held festively.
So now, let’s take a look at how people around the world celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Asisi around the world, shall we?
5 countries that celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Asisi
1. United States
The feast of St. Francis of Asisi is also popular in the United States and usually held on or around October 4. It is popular in many states, including Alabama. California. Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington as well.
Many children will bring their loved pets to the church where the event takes place (it could be indoors or outdoors) to let their pets to be blessed. The event may include verbal blessing and holy water. People can also only bring their pet’s photos if it is difficult to bring them to attend the ceremony.
Some churches in Australia also celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Asisi on October 4. However, the animal blessing does not only occur in catholic churches, as some Anglican churches also have this service on the feast of St. Francis of Asisi. The churches that held the ceremony will post the announcement of the event in churches’ bulletins or other press releases to let pet owners or caregivers bring their pets to the churches for a blessing. The event itself is mainly a day to remember the patron saint of animals and the environment, and in addition, happen to be the day of World Animal Day too! So it is also popular for some animal societies to host fundraising and awareness events about animal rights, and combine both events on October 4.
Just like in Australia, animal blessing service on the day of the feast of St. Francis of Asisi is also not exclusively occurred in catholic churches. Some Anglican churches also open for pet blessing or thanksgiving on October 4 too. People will bring their pets to the churches on October 4 to attend the pet blessings. Some churches allow the pets and the owners to sit in the pews while waiting for their turn to be blessed, and also hold special celebrations to commemorate the feast of St. Francis of Asisi.
4. United Kingdom
The feast of St. Francis of Asisi also occurs in many churches in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Children will bring their pets to the churches on this special day for animal blessing service and also attend a special celebration of the Feast of St Francis of Asisi. Some radio stations may also broadcast some classical music that associated with the feast day.
Not only in Western countries but the feast of St. Francis of Asisi is also popular in Asia, including Manila, Philippine. On October 4, people gather on the outside of the Philippine mall to celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Asisi and World Animal Day. They bring their dressed and decorated pets for an animal blessing. On the menagerie, the pet owners will raise their pets and the priest will sprinkle them with holy water. The animal blessing ceremony in Phillippine is packed with a lot of people (and furry friends!).
That’s only a few countries that celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Asisi on October 4. As you can tell, people would gather and happily bring their loved furry friends for the animal blessing ceremony. They believed that it is right to bring their pets for blessings because they are one of God’s creatures too.
So, what do you think? Would you bring your pet to be blessed to? We all agree that every God’s creature, including animal, has the right to be loved and blessed with happiness in their lifes. After all, it is nice to gather in the same place with other pet owners and their furry friends (espesially when they are dressed in cute costumes), commemorate St. Francis who has a great love for animals, and also celebrate Animals World Day on the same time, isn’t it?