Sure, your pet’s an angel in your eyes, but now you can get him some actual heavenly cred; you can have him blessed.
Thousands of animals will receive a blessing from Franciscan friars this weekend at the St. Francis Festival. The annual event, held at Scottsdale’s Franciscan Renewal Center, is a combination cookout, adopt-a-thon and blessing ceremony organized by the church and Phoenix Animal Care Coaltion (PACC911).
“People bring all sorts of animals — cats and dogs, of course, and small critters, like bunnies and guinea pigs. They’re blessed with holy water and a little prayer,” says Bari Mears, founder of PACC911, a nonprofit animal welfare group.
Friars will bless creatures, from Great Danes and ponies to ferrets and cockatiels, at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All pets are welcome, provided they are leashed or kenneled at all times.
But the blessings are only part of the festival, which also features a massive pet adoption event. More than 60 animal rescue groups will be there, with lots of animals up for adoption.
“PACC puts on 10 to 12 adoption events every year, and this is our biggest. The most rescue organizations participate — horse groups, bunny groups, a rat rescue. Last year we adopted out 280 animals over the two days. We’d love to surpass that this year, because the need is greater than ever,” says Mears.
The St. Francis Festival also includes a donation dog wash, a silent auction and raffle, and pet merchandise vendors. The Arizona Animal Welfare League’s Mobile Vaccine Clinic will provide low-cost microchipping and vaccinations for dogs and cats. Food and drink is also available for sale.
The festival is named for St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and author of the “Canticle of Creatures,” an ode to all of God’s living things. Catholic churches often hold animal-blessing ceremonies on or around the saint’s Oct. 4 feast day.
2010 marks the 17th year that friars have performed animal blessings at the Scottsdale center. It’s the ninth year that PACC911 has worked with the church to host the adopt-a-thon.
All proceeds from the dog wash, raffle and silent auction will go to PACC911’s Emergency Medical Fund, which helps local non-profit animal rescue groups cover veterinary costs.