It’s Blessing of the Animals! Bring your four-legged friends to receive a blessing and forgiveness for all those shoes they’ve ruined. Pets of all varieties welcome to attend the service, or bring photos of those who can’t attend!

The Episcopal Church has long taken a pro-animal stance, reminding members that animals are gifts from God, and that people are responsible for being good stewards of the earth and all its inhabitants. In keeping with such beliefs, many Episcopal churches host an annual Blessing of the Animals service, when people have the rare opportunity to bring their pets to church to receive special blessings.

Feast of St. Francis

Episcopalians celebrate the Blessing of the Animals on a Sunday close to the Feast of St. Francis, which falls on Oct. 4. St. Francis of Assisi was well known for his love of animals. Stories tell of him preaching to flocks of birds, dissuading mosquitoes from biting him and even convincing a wolf to stop stalking humans and livestock in Gubbio, Italy, where he once lived. At the Blessing of the Animals, people remember and emulate Francis’ example of love for animals and appreciation of God’s creations.

Individual Blessing

Pets brought to church on the feast day receive individual blessings.  Following the individual blessing, the congregation prays together, thanking God for their pets and asking for God’s help in caring for them.

Participating Animals

 Dogs and cats account for the biggest turnout, but other creatures including gerbils, hamsters, rats, birds, lizards, snakes and goats also make appearances. Sometimes even horses!!   Some congregations take the blessings out of the church and to the animals.

Episcopalians and Animals

In the 76th General Convention, the Episcopal Church reaffirmed that animals are part of creation and that humans must be responsible stewards over them. The church has gone so far as to speak out against puppy mills, factory farms and any other animal husbandry methods that cause suffering to animals. These positions are not new. Even in 1840, The Rev. Thomas Fuller regretted that humans had exterminated some species and enslaved the rest, writing, “We have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the devil in human form.”