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Churches bless animals to honor Saint Francis

The feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi is celebrated each year on October 4, and churches around the world honored this patron saint of animals and the environment Sunday October 2 by bringing their animals to church to be blessed, the Huffington Post reports.

The annual animal blessings services are always scheduled for the Sunday nearest October 4, the day Saint Francis died. Saint Francis, the most popular Catholic saint in the world, started blessing animals nearly 800 years ago, introducing the idea that human beings are only one of many of God's creations, and all are blessed in God's "eyes," the news source reports.

The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, was one congregation that took part in this celebration, the Palm Beach Daily News reports. Reverend James Harlan blessed dogs, cats and other pets on Sunday. In the past, he has even blessed snakes and a baby elephant, the news source reports.

"Our animal companions are an important part of our life," Harlan told the news source. "They become part of our family. God blesses and cares for our whole life and animals are such an integral part, that it’s good that we take time once a year to celebrate this."
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