LEBANON — St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Lebanon went to the dogs on Oct. 7, with several canine penitents lining up for a blessing on St. Francis Day.

Many churches, including those of the Catholic and Episcopal faith, celebrate Oct. 4 as the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis is the patron saint of animals.

St. Martin's welcomed about a dozen animals and 42 humans for its annual Blessing of the Animals service, with the Rev. Melodie Kimball giving each animal a blessing and a little sprinkle of holy water.

"May the power of this blessing from Christ fill you with life, bind you to your human partners and lead you to praise your Creator," she recited for each — including her own puppy, a Chihuhua-poodle mix named Mika. "Amen." 

Besides dogs, four-footed guests who turned out that day for a blessing included a cat, a stuffed pink bunny, and various other pets and livestock depicted in family photos.

Humans and pets alike were able to partake of treats, and the church provided free leashes, collars and dog bowls.

"The blessing of the animals is to remember St. Francis of Assisi and his love of all creatures, and God's love for all of us," Kimball said. "God created the animals, and they bring us joy and happiness."

The event raised $88 in donations for SafeHaven Humane Society.

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