Welcome back again to another festive article! Still with the holiday spirit, in this article, we will talk more about the feast of St. Francis of Asisi. From the previous article, we knew that this festival is celebrated worldwide and it is held with animal blessings and prayers. But, what exactly happened during the feast of St. Francis of Asisi? Here’s a glimpse of the event so we can have a better picture of how festive and blissful it is!
How Is The Celebration of St. Francis Feast Day
Assisi town and oil lamps
You probably remember that the feast of St. Francis of Asisi is mainly held to commemorate the life of Saint Francis. Saint Francis is honored in many catholic churches as he is the patron saint of animals and the natural environment. Thus, it is a popular day for the animal blessing.
As you can tell, since Saint Francis came from Assisi, Italy, this event is not just a common holiday in Italy, but more than that, it is the most important day of the Franciscans calendar. October 4 is marked as the day to commemorate the transition of Saint Francis into the afterlife. Starting from October 3, Assisi town is decorated beautifully with oil lamps, where the consecrated oil is brought from different towns each year. The religious services are also held in the Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angeli and surely in the Basilica of St Francis.
Birds Portray and Symbols of the Ceremony
One of the most popular stories about Saint Francis is about his love for animals, especially birds. In Fioretti, a collection of legends and folklore, it is told that Saint Francis traveled with his companions to the Spoleto Valley. On his way, he found a sidewalk with trees that filled with many kinds of birds, such as crows, doves, and more. He approached them and talk to them. The birds, surprisingly, waited and listened to him. This story shows how strong the power of Saint Francis’ voice when he preached, even birds didn’t fly away from him.
From there, Saint Francis is usually portrayed with birds in hands and birds become a symbol that usually appears in the ceremony. Other symbol that associated with Saint Francis that usually appear during the feast of St. Francis of Asisi also include other animals such as deer and wolves, a lighted lamp, a bag of gold and the rich raiment at the feet of Saint Francis, a crown of thrones, and a winged crucifix with five rays.
How it celebrated worldwide
The feast of St. Francis may be an important date in Italy, but nowadays it is also held in many countries around the world, from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, until Philippine. Generally, during the feast of St. Francis of Asisi, catholic churches, Anglican churches, or other religious community that honored Saint Francis will open their doors for pet owners and caregivers to bring their furry friends to get blessed by the priest. The event can take place inside of the churches or even outdoors where different kinds of animals can gather in the same place. For example, in Manila, Philippine, the animal blessing occurs outside of the Philippine mall. It is also popular for the pet owners to dress up their pets for the blessing!
During the ceremony, the pet owners will raise their pets on the menagerie and the priest will sprinkle them with holy water and bless them verbally. Some churches also allow pet owners to only bring their pet’s photos if it is difficult to bring them to attend the ceremony. In some countries like the United Kingdom, some radio stations may also broadcast classical music that associated with the feast of Saint Francis of Asisi so the festive spirit can spread widely.
Animal Blessing Hotline
PETA’s Christian outreach divisions have also set up the first-ever animal blessing phone hotline. This phone line service provides a safe and easy way for the pet owners with a sick, elderly, or timid animals that cannot attend the ceremony, and prevent the animals from experiencing stressful travel due to unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment. It is also a good option for you, as the pet owners, if you cannot attend the ceremony. That’s pretty helpful, isn’t it?
The feast of St. Francis of Asisi featuring The World Animal Day
Besides animal blessing ceremony, prayers, and special celebration to commemorate Saint Francis, some churches and animal societies also host fundraising and awareness events about animal rights and animal welfares since October 4 is also known as World Animal Day too. Combining these two events is not a bad idea because both the feast of St Francis of Asisi and World Animal Day brings the same spirit which is to love and take care of the animal creatures. The feast of St. Francis of Asisi is to commemorate Saint Francis who is known for his great love to animals and natures and believe that animals also have the right to be blessed too because they are one of God’s creatures, while the World Animal Day’s mission is to raise the status of animals in order to improve animal’s welfare standards globally. They share the same goals, which is to make a better place for animals to live in.
From here we know that there are so many festivals around the world that celebrate animals in it and of them is the feast of St. Francis of Asisi with an animal blessing ceremony. We can also make our common holiday, like Christmas for example, to be pet-friendly too! After all, our furry friends are also a part of our family. They can enjoy the holiday as much as we do, right? So, happy holiday for all of you! Wish we all have a joyful holiday and hope that our pet will always be healthy and happy!