It may look like a pet show, but during the next two weekends critters are gathering together to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. "Holy Cow" takes on a whole new meaning during events celebrating the annual Blessing of the Animals in conjunction with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.
Birds of a feather flock together. However, during this weekend and the next, congregates entering church and other spiritual centers will really be birds and animals as they enter spiritual centers around the nation with their guardians to honor the memory of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 AD).
Diana L. Guerrero, author of BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: A GUIDE TO PRAYERS & CEREMONIES CELEBRATING PETS AND OTHER CREATURES (ISBN 1402729677) said that, " Although contemporary critter celebrations appear novel, the tradition actually has a long past.”
“Anecdotal accounts surface frequently, going back to the 4th Century but actual documentation is scarce. Here in California, the Los Angeles Olvera Street blessing became popular around 1930. However, recent research indicates that the blessing may actually go as far back as 1781 and the founding of Lost Angeles."
St. Francis believed that all God’s creations reveal something about the nature of God and God’s love. Saint Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 16 July 1228, but not just Catholics celebrate the event.
Guerrero said, "All faith ceremonies and other gatherings celebrate this day."
St. Francis is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment (ecology). He was the founder of the Catholic Franciscan Order and today celebrations reach across the nation from San Francisco to New York.
During her work on BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS Guerrero interviewed many spiritual leaders about their animal blessings and discovered that animals catalyze people to cross religious lines to find common ground. One such interview was with Father Lotito.
In the tradition of Franciscans, Father Lotito of St. Boniface Catholic Church in San Francisco, California, celebrates creation during his blessing of animals. Guerrero wrote, “Father Lotito is joyful. His blessing reflects delight and may be the only one on record to blast Motown music instead of traditional hymns. ‘We are Family’ is his favorite song of choice--and his annual animal blessing literally has people dancing in the streets where it takes place.”
On the other side of the United States, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City attracts thousands of people and animals to their service making it one of the largest blessing of the animals in the United States. The Holy Eucharist & Procession of Animals takes place from late morning until early afternoon but participants arrive hours before services begin.
"Not every event is a peaceable kingdom." Guerrero continued, "Sometimes animals are restless, but most cooperate. Perhaps we need to give them a list of commandments: Thou shall come when called, Thou shall behave in public..."
# # #
Diana L Guerrero http://www.dianalguerrero.com
Blessing of the Animals (ISBN 1402729677) http://www.blessingoftheanimals.com
ABOUT: BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS is an animal lover’s collection of anecdotes, prayers, and ceremonies for pets and an exploration of animal blessing traditions. The book is a mix of historical fact, fun, quirky descriptions, heartfelt sentiments, and novel ceremonies. Readers will discover contemporary celebrations such as meow mixers, pet mitzvahs, and pet nuptials and learn about the pet party craze, beastly beauty pageants, and the real party animals who show up at yappy hours and seasonal galas.
Review copies of BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: A GUIDE TO PRAYERS & CEREMONIES CELEBRATING PETS AND OTHER CREATURES (ISBN 1402729677) are available to reviewers and journalists. Release Date: Spring 2007. Contact Leigh Ann Lambrosi at Sterling Publishing (212) 532-7160 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org