Many dogs and cats in Stamford may be getting a little extra attention this weekend. October 4 marks the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which means that on Sunday, many churches will host a Blessing of Animals.
“St. Francis of Assisi was a big lover of animals,” Rev. Kate Heichler of told Patch. “So it usually takes place around his feast Day — the first weekend in October.”
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals, ecology, so it’s fitting that many Christians mark his feast day by paying some special attention to the animals in their life.
“He was an individual who left everything and followed God, but he also had a connection to the larger creation — not just animals, but the environment too,” Rev. Mark Lingle of said.
While any animals are welcome to come along with their owner to be blessed, in our area, clergy are most likely to see the traditional house pets in tow on Sunday.
“It’s mostly dogs and cats, but we’ve had lizards, turtles, hamsters — sometimes someone will bring a stuffed animal if that’s what they have. I’ve also blessed pictures of a pet,” Heichler said. “It’s short and has such a sweet atmosphere. It’s a nice way to connect that family life and our pets with our church community.”
When Lingle blesses a pet, he always asks the owner for the animal’s name so he can personalize it to them, offering a prayer not only for the pet, but for their human family.
“I just pray that they be filled with joy and that they will be a blessing to their family,” Heichler said.
“Sometimes an owner will say they are dealing with cancer or with a bad hip — I’ll say an extra special prayer for healing or for a quick recovery,” Lingle said.
Stamford’s St. Francis Episcopal Church is one of the only churches in Connecticut that offers a monthly Communion service where owners may bring their pets to the church.
“We started it maybe six years ago, we had some members who were avid pet lovers and one in particular who brought her dog to the 8 am service. There was interest in bringing pets to the 10 am service too, but we were concerned people would be tripping on leashes or a child would get their hand bit if a dog wanted their cookie,” Lingle explained. “So we added a special service for pets and have an active little group.”
The “Service for Pets and Their People” take place on the third Sunday of every month at 4 pm at St. Francis Episcopal Church.
This weekend, Blessing of Animals will be taking place at the following times and locations in Stamford:
- St. Francis Church & the Church of Christ the Healer
Sunday at 4 pm at
A brief interfaith service will take place at the Arboretum. Donations of dog or cat food will be accepted for the Stamford Animal Shelter.
Sunday at 4 pm in the Courtyard
Sunday at 12:30 pm on the Prayer Deck