Students and family members brought their pets to St. James School in BIddeford on Wednesday morning to receive the Blessing of the Animals from the Rev. Robert Gaudreau of Good Shepherd Parish. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

Students and family members brought their pets to St. James School in BIddeford on Wednesday morning to receive the Blessing of the Animals from the Rev. Robert Gaudreau of Good Shepherd Parish. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — It wasn’t a typical start of the day on the playground at St. James School in Biddeford on Wednesday morning as students and teachers who gathered there for prayer before classes were joined by about two dozen dogs, several cats, a ferret, a parakeet and a group of pet-loving parents.

Wednesday was Oct. 4, which marked the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi for Catholics worldwide. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the Rev. Robert Gaudreau of Good Shepherd Parish was on hand at St. James School to provide a blessing for all of the furry and winged creatures in attendance and those who were at home, couldn’t attend or have passed away, but are fondly remembered.

The Blessing of the Animals ceremony dates to the 13th century in the Catholic faith and is “held in grateful recognition of the tremendous services given to the human race by the animal kingdom,” according to Gaudreau.

St. Francis of Assisi was born in Italy in 1182 and 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 was initiated.

Gaudeau told the crowd assembled for the event that in the Scriptures, the act of blessing means the imparting of power or life.

He said that the blessing of each animal, means that health, healing and life are being imparted from God for the benefit of the animal in its relationship with its human partners and that it solidifies the relationship between animals and humans.

And that connection between St. James students and teachers and their pets was evident on Wednesday.  

Olivia Keezer, a kindergarden student at St. James, brought her 3-year-old dog, Chance, to the event assisted by her mother.

“We didn’t want to him to miss this,” she said. “He’s a real good dog.”

Nearby on the playground, Brian Quanne and Adrienne Frederickson of Saco kept a 1-year-old Golden Doodle named Brady in line to receive a blessing.

“It’s all about the kids and Brady is part of the family,” Frederickson said. “We really wanted Brady to be blessed today.”

Robyn Mezminatti of Biddeford said although she doesn’t own a pet, she got up early and attended the event because her great-grandchildren who attend the school have a cat which they brought to the playground for the blessing.

She said she was surprised by how many pets were there with thweir owners for the event.  

“There were a lot more here than I expected, but I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Mezminatti said. “I had to go through everything we have stored in the garage last weekend to find the cat’s carrier. He’s pretty big and I don’t know how we could have gotten him here without it. But we’re Catholic and this special blessing means a lot to us. We love our cat Freddy and want him around for many more years. Hopefully this helps.”

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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