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Dutch Priest Carries Forward Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi with Blessing of Animals

Thanks to the Associated Press for this article. Dutch Priest Blesses Fish, Cats and Dogs By TOBY STERLING AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) A canary, a goldfish,...

Joy  |  Oct 5th 2007


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Thanks to the Associated Press for this article.

Dutch Priest Blesses Fish, Cats and Dogs
By TOBY STERLING

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) A canary, a goldfish, a guinea pig, a handful of cats and more than two dozen dogs received blessings from a Catholic priest in church Thursday to mark World Animal Day.

In a ceremony that was sometimes touching and often comical, Rev. Pierre Valkering led his congregation in songs and prayers frequently interrupted by meowing and yapping from the pews before the blessing took place.

“Animals go through life with us, and that can be a great comfort,” he said. A dog barked loudly in seeming approval, to the delight of many children in attendance. “Sometimes they make us laugh, and that’s a blessing too.”

The goldfish went first and appeared very much in its element as Valkering sprinkled it with holy water.

Amadeus, a Cocker Spaniel, attempted to drink it. His owner, Luba Fedossova, an immigrant from Russia, said later, “They wouldn’t allow animals into churches back home.”

But in the Netherlands it is routine, at least in Valkering’s church, Our Dear Lady, Queen of Peace Church. He said some of his flock have brought pets to regular services, and “we’ve never had any trouble with that.”

St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals on whose feast day World Animal Day is held, was the inspiration for the Oct. 4 service a seven-year-old tradition in Amsterdam.

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