Dogs, horses and even stuffed animals were among the critters blessed at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Southlake bordering on Keller on Saturday.
The annual blessing and service pays respect to feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, known as an advocate for the poor and friend to animals, said The Rev. Scot McComas, rector.
Susan Kleinwechter, communications director of the church and school, said that “in addition to celebrating the lives of pets who are present and blessing the animals, we remembered pets who are no longer with us and the ways they made our lives special.”
“We counted 87 people and 59 dogs, two horses and at least five stuffed toys and several photos of pets who could not come,” Kleinwechter said. “One lady brought her pet’s remains in a small wooden box.”
Every animal received a St. Francis medal.
Children were asked to bring stuffed animals for a blessing.
Said Kleinwechter, “Stuffed animals provide real comfort for children, so we celebrated and gave thanks for that love.”
Dog and cat food were collected for the Humane Society of North Texas.
“Many people in our community are passionate about caring for animals,” Kleinwechter said.
The St. Francis Garden beside the memorial garden at the church was available for people to scatter the ashes of their pets.
For 30 minutes, a youth group at the church with children in third through fifth grade offered drive-thru pet blessings in the church parking lot.
“For pets too feisty around other animals or too shy for a crowd, this offered grace-n-go,” Kleinwechter said.
Linda and Richard Lantz of Southlake brought their two Tennessee walkers. Linda called Oreo a “dynamite” gelding and Dancer “a sweet old mare.” She said their menagerie included Dazzlin, “a top hunting dog,” and Berri, “who is very sweet to people and very obedient.”
Linda said they love the joy their horses bring, especially “enjoying nature in God’s presence on a frosty morning with them.”
“It’s so peaceful,” she said of the early morning rides. “It’s a feeling of communion.”
Angelina Jolie made an appearance at the blessing — in the form of a dog.
Kathy and Jim Bedell of Keller brought Angelina, nicknamed “Little Angie,” and Jade, both rescued English mastiffs.
Jim said they appreciate the church giving them the chance to honor their pets, saying, “They give life and dignity to the pets.”
St. Martin-in-the-Fields offers annual pet blessings around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis was born in Italy in the 1180s.
His feast day is Oct. 4.
“Because Francis expressed his devotion to God through his love for all of God’s creation, praising all creatures as sisters and brothers under God, the custom of offering blessings of animals around or on his feast day grew up,” Kleinwechter said.