Pretoria - Pets are God’s creation, and God’s creation needs to be blessed.
These were the words of Father Danny Adonis of the Saint Francis Anglican Church in Pretoria, who alongside Father Julian Kok, blessed pets as part of the commemoration of the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi on Saturday.
The owners, with their animals in tow, went to where the religious leaders were standing in front of the church.
The leaders then laid hands on the animals, prayed for them for a few seconds, and then let them go.
The blessing ceremony takes place every year during October as part of the celebration of the patron saint of animals. It started at 9am and lasted an hour.
To celebrate the day, people all over the world lead their animals to churches for the special ceremony.
“Saint Francis is the patron of the church and he was a person who blessed nature; so we are symbolically doing that. We are here blessing pets, dogs and everything people could bring.”
He said it was crucial that pets be blessed as they formed part of God’s creation.
“Look, they are God’s creation and God’s creation needs to be blessed, so we are continuing what Francis did,” said Adonis.
Parrots and cats were among the pets brought to be blessed.
Adonis said last year they had a horse, and the year before chickens, which ended up landing on the alter. This year the pets were not allowed inside the church, but were blessed outside.
Owen Hazel from Waterkloof brought two of his huge dogs, and he, too, was following in the footsteps of the patron.
“Our patron Saint Francis loved animals with all his life, and in his honour and on his beautiful day, we brought our pets to the church to get them blessed,” Hazel said.
Apart from his love of animals and nature, Saint Francis was also best known for having founded the religious order known as the Franciscans. He also became known for his love of simplicity, and practice of poverty.
The Italian Roman Catholic friar, deacon and preacher died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44 in Assisi, Italy.
He was canonised as a saint two years after his death.