December 12 2013 Latest news:
Dean Kilpatrick, Reporter
Sunday, September 9, 2012
A PRIEST is inviting people to have their pets blessed at a special ceremony – as long as your companion isn’t a snake.
St Nicholas Church in Thanet is holding a service to celebrate the work of animal loving Saint Francis of Assisi, but the parish priest has told those planning to go not to bring their serpent sidekick.
Canon James Rosenthal, who has held similar services in Chicago and London, said: “Because of the Biblical context, I don’t think I could bless a snake.
“I just couldn’t do it and indeed snakes get bad press in the Bible. I think they might react to the holy water.”
In the Bible a serpent tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
The religious leader is hoping for a diverse range of animals at the ceremony – including horses, dogs, pigs and “even the cockerel that wakes me up every morning”.
It is customary for Anglican and Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on St Francis’ feast day.
But when asked if someone brought a snake to the service, he said he would “probably break down”.
He added: “For a blessing, most people like to touch the animal or person, but I would probably refrain from doing so.
“I would probably give a special blessing to the owner because if you have a snake, you need all the help you can get.”
The event is being held to mark the work of the patron saint of animals and the environment Francis of Assisi and also to open up the church to younger generations.
Mr Rosenthal added: “It’s to show the young people that we really care about the creation like St Francis did.
“As we see the pollution and the destruction of the world, it doesn’t hurt to stop and thank God for animals which are such great companions.”
The priest added he had a fear of rodents, but said he didn’t class them as animals and also advised people not to bring wild animals such as alligators.
Mr Rosenthal has promised to be colourfully dressed for the occasion, and said it was important to appreciate animals for the “joy they bring their owners, which is sometimes more than humans”.
Having held services in the capital, he believes holding the ceremony in St Nicholas will provide an interesting range of animals.
He added: “This is a farming community, so there will be quite a few interesting animals who will come forward.
“With this particular setting in the countryside, I have a feeling it’ll be the most unique one.”
The service will be held in St Nicholas-at-Wade on Sunday, October 7 at 9am.
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