Duke in Pictures: Dogs, Cats and Priests at the Blessing of the Animals


Father Mike Martin, the director of the Duke Catholic Center, gives a blessing to a pet dog during the Blessing of Animals service at the Chapel Quad on Sunday. The outdoor worship service is held annually on the Sunday in October closest to the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. More than 200 worshipers brought dozens of pets from guinea pigs to beetles to be blessed during the service. 

The ceremony, which has been held at Duke since 1989, was made popular at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and is inspired by St. Francis' love for all creatures and his belief that humans should cherish their relationships with animals.  Several worshipers told stories about their pets at the ceremony and how the animals had affected their lives.

Below, Rick Clanton, left, of Rick's Reptile Rescue, holds Whiplash (white), an albino corn snake; Tang (orange), a corn snake; and Pumpkin (multi-colored), a Columbian red tail boa, while Rev. Bruce Puckett and Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer perform a blessing.

Photos by Megan Morr/Duke University Photography