At Camera-Critters many bloggers are showing their animal photos and stories today. All are invited to visit or to join in.
Today is the Catholic feast day of Francis of Assisi. He lived from 1181 until Oct. 4, 1226 and was the founder of the monastic order which bears his name. This painting of him is in the Franciscan monastery near my village.
St. Francis is the patron saint of animals. He spoke to animals as "brother wolf" and "sister bird," preached to the animals, saw all of creation as inherently good, and was exceptional in his emphasis on the obligation of all animal life toward praising the Creator.
In many countries pets are taken to church on this day to be blessed.
I have never heard of it being done in Israel, so permit me to take you to Australia instead for just this one post.
During the month that I lived as a volunteer at the Good Samaritan Donkey Sanctuary in New South Wales, a priest came to dedicate the new statue of St. Francis in the garden.
I found a Jewish website that says, "Even though we Jews do not have patron saints, we do have a similar concept to a saint’s feast day in the hillula. A hillula, though it originally referred to a celebration such as a wedding feast, was later adapted to annual rejoicing on the anniversary of the death of an important Rabbi."
They suggest making a hillula for Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Eretz Israel, who saw "a vital symbiosis, both ecologically and theologically, between human and non-human animals" that would include a yearly blessing of the pets as follows:Blessed are You, Holy Source,
Maker of all living creatures.
On the fifth and sixth days of creation,
You called forth fish in the sea,
birds in the air and animals on the land.
You inspired us to call all animals brothers and sisters.
We ask You to bless these animals
By the power of Your love,
enable them to live fully in praise to Your Name
May we always praise You
for all Your beauty in creation.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, in all your creatures!
. . . (adapted from Catholic prayer for Blessing Animals)