Bless You, St. Francis

Written By: Tipsy Table - Oct• 13•14
SophieBlue with Reverend Dave

SophieBlue with Reverend Dave 2003.

Sunday, October 5th, we drove our Huskies to St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum for the annual “Blessing of the animals.” We have made a tradition to attend this event as we find it a beautiful witness for any church. More important, we find our pets love the attention, and the pomp and ceremony of the day. Our dear departed husky Sophie Blue Wolf decided this her favorite faith-based day. She loved the Episcopal Church in our Seattle neighborhood and settled in for a sermon that preceded the blessing. She enjoyed the church, perhaps the volume of the room, the parishioners, and always the music.Sun Valley is also a good place for this day of animal blessing. The Wood River Valley is pet-friendly, the home base for the introduction into this country of the popular Labrador retriever. It is a puppy paradise for playing and running the trails along the Big Wood River and its many streams. This is a place of happy humans and happy pets. The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley is a model for any in this country and it receives much support from the community. Shelter volunteers and pets were present at the blessing, and several of the pets were adopted at the ceremony.

Blessing Django and his knee surgery 2014.

Blessing Django and his knee surgery 2014.

It was a good day for our dear Django Skyy Blue to get out and to enjoy the human interaction so important for him. He was completing the first week of recovery from a TLPO surgery to repair an ACL tear on his left hind knee. Little sister Mascoutah Blue loves a gathering–always thinking it must be for her–and an intent man of God chased away her demons while she was sniffing his pockets for treats. The occasion was held outside on a beautiful day and the dogs, a few cats, two donkeys, and a turtle lined up for a serious and touching blessing.

Chasing away Mascoutah's demons

Chasing away Mascoutah’s demons 2014. Photo courtesy Leslee and Russ.

Enjoying the day, the community of humans and pets, the simple elegance of the blessing and good cheer, we were motivated to reflect upon this man, St. Francis, and wonder at his love of all animals in the grace of the God he worshipped. A 13th Century Italian Catholic, St. Francis left a secure, privileged family to follow his faith with a passionate concern for the poor that evolved over a number of years into his personal intense spirituality.

Perhaps it was this empathy for suffering around him that extended to animals and the natural environment. He was an original “talk to the animals” guy, including a gem of folklore that witnesses his sermon to a flock of birds, perhaps A Gathering of Starlings. Thus, we see artist portrayals of this saint so often with a bird in hand. Within the folklore surrounding his sainthood, there is the dramatic story of the marauding wolf of the village Gubbio that Francis confronted and converted, bringing the wild animal together with village residents in an affirmation of mutual consideration and understanding. This is such a grand story that we will revisit it in another posting.

St. Francis and his sermon to the birds.  Photo courtesy Lawrence OP.

St. Francis and his sermon to the birds. Photo courtesy Lawrence OP.

Francis of Assisi was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, often thereafter referred to as the patron saint of animals and the environment. We cannot think of a much better reason for any church to elevate a believer to sainthood. As we are sure our Huskies would howl, “Bless You St. Francis.”

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