STEUBENVILLE, OH— In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscan University of Steubenville will hold its annual blessing of animals during Homecoming Weekend, October 4-6, 2013. (Full Homecoming details | Schedule of Events)
The blessing will take place near the Portiuncula Chapel on Saturday, October 5, at 2:45 p.m. University Chaplain Father Dominic Scotto, TOR, will bless the animals in a rite that includes a hymn, sprinkling with holy water, and a prayer that the pets continue to reveal God’s love and presence to the world.
All are invited to bring their pets to receive the blessing. In past years, Father Scotto has blessed a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats, parakeets, lizards, rabbits, and goldfish.
"We call down God's blessing on all his creatures, like St. Francis did, because they're all part of God's creation," Father Scotto says. "Francis was not a pantheist—he saw the imprint of God's image in the animals. Everything is a reflection of God's grace and love."
The widespread tradition of blessing pets on or near St. Francis’ feast day, October 4, imitates the example of St. Francis, who was named the patron saint of animals by Pope John Paul II in 1979.