Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bless the Beasts . . . Church Marks Feast of St. Francis with Special Friends

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bless the Beasts . . . Church Marks Feast of St. Francis with Special Friends

Article excerpt

Several churches in the area recently marked the feast of St. Francis Assisi by blessing the furry friends of congregation members and others.

Among the churches was Trinity Episcopal in St. Charles, which on a recent Wednesday night stocked its pews with more than the average crowd. This time, the congregation differed in that it included seven dogs, two cats and two ferrets.

Church rector Tamsen Whistler said St. Francis was a medieval environmentalist who took his stewardship seriously and believed all creatures - people and animals - make up the whole. "We celebrate his day by bringing our animal friends and companions to be blessed," she said. Blessing of the animals has become a tradition in the Episcopal church in the last 15 years, Whistler said. She came to Trinity in May 1995 and held the first blessing of the animals there last fall. It was well-received, with more than 30 dogs, cats and gerbils in attendance. The most recent service was held outdoors, with a portable altar and sacraments set up in front of the church. Cloudy weather adversely affected attendance some. Megan, a 10-year-old fluffy gray keeshond, and Susie, a wobbly 15-year-old mixed breed, huddled together on leashes, panting warily during the service. The dogs' owners, Jane and Robert Horning of St. Charles, members of Trinity, said they were planning to leave on vacation soon, but only after their dogs were blessed. Susie sported a pink bandage around one front leg. She had been to the vet earlier in the day for shots, "which we get every year now because of her age - another reason why the blessing is important," Jane Horning said. Nancy and Maurice Hart of St. Peters, also church members, brought their roly-poly pug Dusty to the service because it was a "nice idea," they said. "She's our baby," said Nancy Hart. "We want her to be blessed like we are every Sunday. …

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