By Clara Hua ‘21
The Blessing of the Animals is a tradition that started almost 800 years ago. It is in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, who always called creatures “his brothers and sisters.” He sought to widen the fraternity to include humans and creatures in the same relationship with God. The feast day of St. Francis (the day that he died) is celebrated every year on October 4th, and blessing of the animal services are usually scheduled for the Sunday closest to that day.
Reverend Talcott started this tradition at St. Mark’s in 2009. She thinks that animals are vital parts of our world and our lives, and it’s important to bring our awareness to them. Every year, Belmont chapel welcomes pets from community members and this year we had more than 20 animals, including dogs, cats and even lizards at! Several faculty members and students shared their (or their pets’) experience with me.
“It's my favorite chapel of the year,” said Ms. Caron. “I love seeing my students with their pets. Finn has a great time. It's a little overwhelming for him, but he loves making new dog friends, and he loves seeing all of the students. He was so excited to look out of our apartment window and see the dogs arriving prior to chapel.”
“Blessing of the animals is my favorite chapel of the year!” exclaimed Sarah Lammert ’21. “ My family is made up of animal lovers. We have four dogs, three goats, six chickens, and a bunny. My first year at St. Mark’s was last year, when I only took one of my poodles. This year my brother joined the school, and we brought all four together. Personally, I love Blessing of the Animals because it allows day students or local boarders to show a little bit of their lives to the boarders who couldn’t bring their pets!”
“I brought one dog with me as Nettie is so afraid of people,” said Ms. Behnke.”Chloe loves “Blessing of the Animals” and it is one of my favorite days. Chloe gets to see lots of dogs she knows and she meets new ones. I also love seeing all the dogs on campus. I am so grateful to St. Mark’s for celebrating this day.”
Tommy Flathers ’21 commented that “[his] dog Claribelle is 11 and a grouchy old lady, so she did not really enjoy the blessing of the animals. She was nervous and hung around the edges. But she did make it all the way through and received her blessing.”
This was not the experience of Catherine Pellini ’20. “Both my puppy Callie and I had so much fun at the Blessing of the Animals last Tuesday. I loved seeing all of the animals and I’m sure she had fun meeting the other dogs! I’m so glad we were able to participate in this amazing St. Mark’s tradition.”
All of us are reminded of the importance of animals in our lives by this tradition. St. Markers (both people and pets) love this chapel a lot, and I bet many of us are already starting to look forward to next year’s Blessing of the Animals!