If you see a collection of animals going to church on Sunday, there’s a good reason for it.

Pet and animal lovers have an opportunity for some divine intervention this weekend, as Trinity Episcopal Church will give their Blessing of the Animals this Sunday, Oct. 8, as part of the Feast of St. Francis, the church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.

According to Johanna MacPherson, longtime member of Trinity Episcopal Church, the Blessing has been a historic tradition with several denominations, and is an opportunity for the community and their pets to engage with the church.

“It’s a time when we invite the whole community to come in,” MacPherson said.  

During the Blessing, the Priest of Trinity Episcopal Church, Lindy Hardwicke, will visit each animal individually to grant them the blessing.

Some examples of blessings used in the church include “(Pet’s name), may you be blessed in the Name of God who created you, and may you and (Owner’s name) enjoy life together with our God,” and “(Pet’s name), may you be blessed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May you and (Owner’s name) enjoy life together and find joy with the God who created you.”

While not a public holiday, the Feast of St. Francis is an important day to many congregations as a way of spreading a message of humility and kindness. The word Feast, in terms of the church, means a major celebration, and the Feast of St. Francis is one that began in the Catholic church but has since spread to many other Christian faiths.

“It’s a little old fashioned but I see other churches occasionally doing the same thing,” said MacPherson.

According to MacPherson, St. Francis was an Italian priest who “founded a whole monestary of monks who lived in poverty.” He was known for being good to animals and eventually became their patron saint. The church has been celebrating him as the patron saint of animals for over 500 years, and can be seen depicted in artworks surrounded by animals, with birds on his shoulders and a kind disposition.

“When you invoke St. Francis, it’s about kindness,” said MacPherson. St. Francis’ traditional feast day is Oct. 4, but the church celebrates it the following Sunday to coincide with services.

Johanna MacPherson and the rest of Trinity Episcopal Church hope this message of kindness reaches the community, and they will see the church as a welcoming environment for them and their pets.

“Events like this help people understand we’re an active, living church,” said MacPherson.

The Blessing of the Animals will take place on the church’s front lawn at 1 p.m.. Prior to the event there will be a service from 10 a.m. to noon. All manner of pets and animals are welcome and it is a kid friendly event. The church is located on 120 E. Scioto Street, in St. James.