Chaplain (Maj.) Ray Kopec poses with Madison Grimes and her dog Daisy during the Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 3.

Bicentennial Chapel celebrated its annual Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 3. The Blessing of the Animals has been celebrated at the chapel for more than 20 years.

This year, Chaplain (Maj.) Ray Kopec was in charge of the blessing of the medals of St. Francis and a picture was given to each animal owner. The weather was great and the turnout included five cats and 20 dogs. Rad Reavis and Mary and Sarah McNeely helped with the setup, photography and the distribution of food for the animals.

Oct. 4 is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Founder of the Franciscans, and Patron Saint of Animals, St. Francis lived in Italy from 1181 to 1226. Francis came from a wealthy Italian family. After a traumatic war experience, Francis began giving food and money to any beggar he encountered. This displeased his father greatly. Francis visited hospitals and ministered to the sick, giving away money freely. His father disinherited Francis.
Francis then gathered a group of men of like mind. They agreed to take a vow of poverty and preach penance. Francis referred to all creatures as brothers, and legend has it that he preached to the animals.

In his honor a life-affirming ceremony called the Blessing of the Animals is celebrated at many Christian churches.

"The Blessing of the Animals reminds us of the sacredness of all life, and provides an opportunity to celebrate the animals who share our lives," Debra K. Brazzel of Duke University said.

Following individual blessings, each animal was treated to packaged animal food while their owners were treated to cake and punch.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16