DURHAM, N.C. -- Taking inspiration from a medieval monk, Duke University Chapel ministers will pray over cats, dogs, hamsters -- and maybe an iguana -- during the annual Blessing of the Animals service at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15.
Pet owners are welcome to bring their animals to the lawn in front of the chapel to receive a blessing as part of the worship service. Those bringing pets are responsible for their animals and are asked to bring only pets that will be safe around children and other animals.
Free parking will be available in the Bryan Center parking garage. The rain date for the event is 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22.
“It is a blessing to give thanks to God while touching or holding animals large and small,” said the Rev. Bruce Puckett, worship and community minister at Duke Chapel. “Our vision of the community of God’s good creation expands during this service as we recognize the joy and delight animals bring to our lives.”
The service will last about 30 minutes and feature performances by the Durham Children's Choir, Scripture readings and a reflection by the Rev. Meghan Benson, chaplain at Duke Divinity School. Individual animal blessings will take place immediately after the service.
The Blessing of the Animals service is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century Italian Catholic friar who lived a life of voluntary poverty and is known for his love of animals. He believed the natural world could give glory to God, writing in his song, “Canticle of the Sun,” “Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures.”
Two chapel events, both free and open to the public, will immediately follow the service on Oct. 15. At 4 p.m. in the Divinity School’s Goodson Chapel, there is a Choral Evensong worship service, and at 5 p.m. in Duke Chapel is an organ recital by Kola Owolabi, an associate professor of organ at the University of Michigan.