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Four-legged companions get blessing at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Feast of St. Francis: Photo gallery

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Deacon Gianni Chicco blessed the gathered pets at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Oct. 9. The ceremony coincides with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

PRICES CORNER — A few dozen pets and their owners made their way to St. Catherine of Siena Church on Oct. 9 for the annual blessing of the animals, which is celebrated on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Standing in the bright sunshine, those in attendance listened as Deacon Gianni Chicco, who presided at the service, talked about the importance of pets in our lives. At the end of the 15-minute service, he sprinkled the animals — mostly dogs but also a cat and a guinea pig — with holy water.

St. Francis of Assisi was said to have called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” preaching to the birds and persuading a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they fed the animal. He is the patron saint of the environment and animals, and his feast day is Oct. 4.

All photos by Mike Lang.