Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The feast commemorates the life of St. Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the patron saint of animals and the environment.
Many churches offer special animal blessing services on or near October 4. The services may include a verbal blessing and are usually held at a place where different animals can gather. Blessings may occur indoors or outdoors. Pets may include dogs, cats, fish and birds. Some people choose to bring photos of their pets if it is difficult for their pets to attend the blessing.
Some churches ask people to bring animal food or blankets to be donated to a local animal shelter around this time of the year. The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi gives many educators, caregivers and animal rights organizations the opportunity to teach children about endangered or abused animals and what can be done to help save these animals.
World Animal Day is also celebrated on October 4. It started in Florence, Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists. Animal life in all its forms is celebrated, and special events are planned in locations all over the globe.
World Animal Day, however, has now gone beyond being the celebration of a Christian saint and is today observed by animal-lovers of all beliefs, nationalities and backgrounds. Animal rescue shelters hold fundraising events and open days, wildlife groups organize information displays, schools undertake animal-related project work, and individuals and groups of friends or co-workers donate to animal charities or pledge to sponsor a shelter animal.
October has also been designated World Animal Month.
Image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette