The annual Blessing of the Animals was held on Sunday afternoon, hosted by clergy from Old North Church and joined by RUFF, the North End dog group. Perfect Autumn weather brought dozens of dogs and humans to the Prado, Paul Revere Mall, in Boston’s North End.

The Blessing of the Animals service commemorates the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Rev. Steve Ayers and Rev. Ellie Terry of the Old North Church, gave readings from scripture and prayers followed by individual blessings.

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St. Francis of Assisi was said to be able to communicate with animals. There are legends of Francis preaching to doves and crows. One story recounts his rescuing a wild rabbit caught in a trap, ending with the rabbit following him for days and constantly hopping on his lap in appreciation. Perhaps the most famous story speaks of Francis taming a wolf that terrorized a village in Italy.