Animal rites: The Feast of St. Francis is Oct. 4

Oct. 4 is the annual feast day of Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved saints in Christian history and a saint whose appeal crosses religious boundaries. One reason for that broad popularity is that St. Francis loved animals, and people today seem to love animals more than ever.

Background

That helps to explain the growing number of services for the “Blessing of the Animals” in which people of all faiths, or even no faith, bring their pets to churches on Oct. 4 for a blessing.

Beyond the walls of houses of worship, however, issues of animal spirituality, animal rights, and an increasing religious concern for the environment and “creation care” are coalescing into a social and political movement with religious and ethical underpinnings.

National sources

  • Laurel Kearns

    Laurel Kearns is an associate professor of the sociology of religion and environmental studies at Drew University in Madison, N.J. She has written about Spiritualism and women. She is co-editor, with Catherine Keller, of Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth (2007) and is an expert on eco-theology.

  • Kimberley Christine Patton

    Kimberley Christine Patton is a professor of the comparative and historical study of religion at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where she has taught a course in animals and religion. She is co-editor of A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science & Ethics (2006).

  • Lisa Portmess

    Lisa Portmess is a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. With Kerry Walters, she co-authored two books, one about the history of religious vegetarianism and the other on the history of ethical vegetarianism.

  • Tom Regan

    Tom Regan is a professor emeritus of philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. His book The Case for Animal Rights (University of California, 2004) is considered a classic in the area.

  • Bron Raymond Taylor

    Bron Raymond Taylor is a religion professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he helped to launch a graduate program in religion and nature. Taylor was also instrumental in the formation of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture and served as its first president from 2006-2009. He is considered a leading scholar on religion and nature, and his books include (as editor) the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and (as author) Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future.

     

  • Paul F. Waldau

    Paul F. Waldau works at the intersection of animal studies, ethics, religion, law and cultural studies. He is an associate professor and lead faculty member for the anthrozoology graduate program at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as the president of the Religion and Animals Institute.

  • Kerry Walters

    Kerry Walters is a philosophy professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. With Lisa Portmess, she co-authored two books, one about the history of religious vegetarianism and the other on the history of ethical vegetarianism.

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