Church of the Holy Cross will hold Blessing of the Animals

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The historic Church of the Holy Cross at Stateburg will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7. Father Michael Ridgill will bless pets brought to the churchyard at 335 N. King's Highway (S.C. 261), as he has done for several years.

Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on or about Oct. 4, his actual feast day, with prayers and a blessing of the animals.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, "St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and environment, could be viewed as the original Earth Day advocate. Francis' devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God's creation. St. Francis cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God."

In addition to being the patron saint of animals, St. Francis is also the patron saint of archaeologists, ecology, Italy, merchants, messengers and metal workers.

The Blessing of the Animals will go on rain or shine, Ridgill said.

"In the event of inclement weather," he said, "the blessing will be in the church for smaller animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, etc." Larger animals, such as horses, will be blessed in the churchyard.

In addition, he said, "The church will be open for visitors, and donations will be accepted to support our local (Sumter) SPCA."

For more information, call the Church of the Holy Cross at (803) 494-8101 or email frmichaelridgill@gmail.com.