In the footsteps of Francis of Assisi

St. Stephen's Parish holds annual 'Blessing of Animals' in honor of the saint known for his love of nature


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  • Photos by Roger Gavan On Saturday, Oct. 7, a variety of pets including dogs, a snake, a chicken, a rabbit and even a horse along with their owners enjoyed summer like weather for the annual “Blessing of Animals,” outside Warwick’s Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr.




  • St. Stephen’s Pastor, the Rev. Jack Arlotta, began the ceremony with a prayer and a reading from the Book of Genesis and then blessed each animal individually. He also brought treats for the animals and handing them to the owners usually cautioned the children that they were meant to be eaten only by their pets.




  • First to arrive were Helen and Victor Turselli with their Pug, "Tiffany."




  • Kerry Baird and her children Robert, 11, Kathleen, 9, and Sean, 6, brought their pet rabbit "Freckle."




  • Grace Margiewicz, 11, brought her pet chicken, "Fade," to be blessed.




  • This year Pete Morris and his daughte,r Jordan, 16, brought their Warmblood horse, Sir Charleston, to be blessed.



WARWICK — On Saturday, Oct. 7, a variety of pets including dogs, a snake, a chicken, a rabbit and even a horse along with their owners enjoyed summer like weather for the annual "Blessing of Animals," outside Warwick's Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr.

The ceremony is held each year in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century patron saint of animals and the environment, who is remembered for his love of all creatures.

A host of stories that surround the life of St. Francis deal with his love for animals.

The Feast Day of St. Francis is Oct. 4 and many Christian churches throughout the country, both Catholic and Protestant, conduct animal blessings on or about that day each year.

St. Stephen's pastor, the Rev. Jack Arlotta, began the ceremony with a prayer and a reading from the Book of Genesis and then blessed each animal individually.

He also brought treats for the animals and handing them to the owners usually cautioned the children that they were meant to be eaten only by their pets.

It is not uncommon, especially in good weather, for children and adults to bring all kinds of pets, large and small. And in the past that has included hamsters, fish and alpacas in addition to dogs and cats.

Arlotta sometimes mentions that a tarantella and a can of worms were among the most unusual pets brought to him in previous years.

- Roger Gavan





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