The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is observed on Oct. 4. St. Francis was an Italian friar who took a vow of poverty and cared for the poor. He also believed nature – including its creatures – was the mirror of God. He preached that it is our duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves. In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis to be the Patron of Ecology.

Many ELCA congregations celebrate the wonders of God’s creation and the legacy of St. Francis by holding pet-blessing services and activities for the community around this time of the year. It is a time to remember how God’s creatures – of all sizes, shapes and species – bless our lives and are essential to the environment that sustains all living things, including humankind. We commit ourselves to caring for their wellbeing in the world whether they be service animals, pets, domesticated animals, wild animals, pets in shelters, bugs or creatures that fly, crawl, run or swim.

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