Over 500 owners, and their beloved pets, gathered at the Basilica of Saint Mary Oct. 5 for the annual Blessing of the Animals service.
The event is in its 25th year at the Basilica of Saint Mary and is held annually near the Feast of St. Francis, to recognize him as a patron saint of animals, nature and peace. This year's feast day was Oct. 4.
Each year, Basilica staff choose a "featured creature" that they choose to highlight during the event. The creature is typically endanged or threatened and in need of prayer and awareness of its issue. This year's featured creature was the honeybee.
Actors from "In the Heart of the Beast" theater in Minneapolis, Minn., were dressed in life-size honeybee costumes to add an increased presence for the small creature. Members of the Bees Kneez honeybee advocacy organization were also availabe to discuss the current bee population and how we can all protect our pollinators.
In earlier times, people took their animals and food to monasteries for a special blessing around harvest time. They depended on these gifts for survival. Now, the blessing invokes a connection between people and their animals, as well as a connection with all of nature.