St Francis Day & Blessing of the Animals

by Christine Sine
Service dogs at St Albans - 06

Blessing Service Dogs – St Albans Episcopal – photo courtesy of Laurie Pruitt

St Francis Feast Day is only a few days away, October 4th, and many churches including ours, are getting ready for a blessing of the animals at Sunday’s service. We are about to take our dog, Goldie, to church and have her blessed and I know that this practice is growing in popularity. Even some zoos are getting into the act.

Our dog Bonnie blessing by Jonathan Myers St Andrews Episcopal

Our dog Bonnie blessing by Jonathan Myers St Andrews Episcopal

Each year, I post resources for both blessing the animals and for St Francis day so this year I thought I would combine them as many of us associate the two together.

Let me start with a disclaimer. The prayer above is often associated with St Francis, but like other prayers attributed to him it is not actually written by him. It is still my favourite “Franciscan prayer”, which I found out after posting was actually written by Benedictine Sister Ruth Fox of Sacred Heart Monastery in Richadton ND. (Thanks Paul Neely for your post that let me know this and for the link to Sister Ruth’s full blessing).  

And for something fresh – this contemporary hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette which I have only recently come across.

St Francis of Assisi – Prayers and Thoughts.

I am not an expert on St Francis so thought I would leave the descriptions and explanations to those that are, like my friend Jamie Arpin Ricci. I suggest that you read this helpful article The Gospel According to St Francis, he wrote a couple of years ago.

St Francis believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters”, and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf. In his “Canticle of the Creatures” (“Praises of Creatures” or “Canticle of the Sun”), he mentioned the “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, the wind and water, and “Sister Death”. This prayer (the real St Francis Prayer) was paraphrased by William Henry Draper in the beautiful English hymn All Creatures of Our God and King.

The prayer most commonly associated with St Francis was not actually written by him but is generally believed to be only about 100 years old, penned by an anonymous French writer as Daniel Horan explains in Living the Prayer of St Francis With All Creation but is still a good reminder of all he stood for.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Or you may prefer this form to meditate on

I particularly love this rendition written for international women’s day a couple of years ago:

A Franciscan Prayer for International Women’s Day.

Here is another prayer that is often attributed to St Francis. I love the prayer and it resonates with the spirit of St Francis, though it too, was not written by him:

God bless us with discomfort at easy answers

Paul Neeley at has posted some beautiful songs derived from St Francis Prayer:

The Brilliance – Open Up is a beautiful song.

A rock version of At Francis Prayer

A song from 2007 by Isaac Everett, based on the famed ‘Canticle of the Sun’ by St. Francis of Assisi.

I love this prayer which Micha Jazz posted on the Godspace Facebook page a couple of years ago.

Prayer for St Francis’ Feast

Francis, the destitute and lowly, enters heaven a rich man, acclaimed by the songs of angels!

Lord God, you made Saint Francis of Assisi
Christ-like in his poverty and humility.
Help us so to walk in his ways that,
with joy and love,
we may follow Christ your Son,
and be united to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Francis, the destitute and lowly, enters heaven a rich man, acclaimed by the songs of angels!

And finally a beautiful song/prayer/poem of praise from the Franciscan Friars.

The Praises of God

Lord God:
you alone are holy,
you who work wonders!
You are strong, you are great,
you are the Most High,
you are the almighty King,
you, holy Father, King of heaven and earth.

Lord God: you are Three and you are One,
you are goodness, all goodness,
you are the highest Good,
Lord God, living and true.

You are love and charity, you are wisdom,
you are humility, you are patience,
you are beauty, you are sweetness,
you are safety, you are rest, you are joy,
you are our hope
and our delight,
you are justice, you are moderation
you are all our wealth
and riches overflowing.

You are beauty, you are gentleness,
you are our shelter, our guard
and our defender,
you are strength, you are refreshment,
you are our hope.
you are our faith.
you are our love,
you are our complete consolation,
you are our life everlasting,
great and wonderful Lord,
all powerful God, merciful Savior!

Amen.

Blessing of The Animals 

StFrancisOfAssisi_3This began as a Catholic celebration associated with St Francis of Assisi, but has become extremely popular for people of many traditions in the last few years. We are discovering more and more the benefits of pets in our lives and society so blessing them at church, in the synagogue or even in our animal oriented institutions, is not just a fun thing to do, it is acknowledging their importance to both us and God.

Here are some other good resources I have found for litanies on blessing animals.

Letallcreationpraise.org lists several sermons and litany for blessing the animals

St Francis Blessing Liturgy by Rev. Robert Morrison and Rev. Richard J. Fairchild

Textweek.com as usual has links to some great resources on blessing of animals and pets.

Ritualwell.org has a beautiful Jewish animal blessing 

Even the humane society has published an animal blessing

Or if you are looking for a Creation Liturgy I recommend this excellent one by John Van de Laar in South Africa.

And for a little nostalgia, listen to “Bless the Beasts and the Children” by Karen Carpenter.

Godspace Posts – Blessing of the Animals and St Francis.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post: God bless the animals which reflects on that and highlights some of the organizations that work with animals.

In 2011, in my post A Blessing for the Animals I highlighted the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and their free resource from which the liturgy I posted was drawn.

And for those who might like to read more prayers and what I have written in previous years for St Francis day.

Let Us Desire Nothing But God – A Prayer by St Francis of Assisi

A Franciscan Prayer of Blessing

You may also like

2 comments

Linda September 29, 2015 - 10:14 am

It was so interesting to open up my email and see this. I am presently touring Italy and have just arrived back at my lodging after spending a day in Assisi. I have heard people describe spiritually thin places and AssIsi I would say is such a place. It was quite profound as i have recently become widowed. The last 4 years with my husband having become completely dependent from a severe brain infection, I can only describe as a beautiful journey with my Lord. In Assisi did I not only feel close to my husband but felt that the past 4 years had been sanctified. Even though I grieve the loss of my husband I am excited for the journey ahead as I have great peace and joy as He continues to walk with me.

Reply
Christine Sine September 29, 2015 - 10:27 am

Thanks Linda, for this. Assisi is indeed a thin place – may you be able to enjoy it in this way.

Reply

Leave a Reply

DON’T MISS A POST, PRAYER, OR FREE RESOURCE BY SUBSCRIBING BELOW.

All Done!

%d bloggers like this: