The annual Blessing of the Animals was recently held to recognize St. Francis Day, hosted by clergy from Old North Church along with RUFF, the North End dog group.
Sunny, autumnal weather brought creatures big and small together for a short liturgy followed by the blessings. This annual event is typically held at the Prado, but was relocated this year to the North End Dog Park on Prince & Snow Hill Streets due to the Prado restoration.
The Blessing of the Animals service commemorates the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. 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.