WASHINGTON — It was the pets’ turn to be blessed at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in Northeast D.C. Saturday morning.
It’s an annual event that takes place at the friary ahead of the celebration of Saint Francis of Assisi.
“People love their animals,” Priest Jim Gardiner told WTOP. “Look how affectionate [the pets] are, how forgiving they are.”
Gardiner says throughout history, pets have been an important part of civilization because of their unconditional affection.
“Let’s put animals in charge of Metro — all public transportation,” Gardiner said half-seriously, noting that the affection animals give would make everyone kinder.
After a prayer, owners lined up to have their pets be individually blessed with holy water.
Most people at this year’s event came with their dog on a leash.
One man, with a group of friends, arrived with a dog donned in a white dress.
“It’s a shower curtain and a tutu,” Josh Cruz said while laughing. “It’s all white, with a bow tie and some flowers on there.”
Cruz called it a baptism dress for his 6-month-old puppy, designed by his roommate.
While the absurdity of a dog all dressed in white was good for a laugh, Cruz said this event is important to him.
“I’m Catholic and it’s a big event for dog owners,” said Cruz.
It was his first time taking part in the event, noting this is the first time he’s had a dog while living in the District.
Aviana Symon was also at the monastery with her pet, Luna.
“She’s about 7-years-old and she’s a Mini Rex rabbit,” shared Symon.
Luna was the only rabbit to be blessed.
Symon admitted that Luna was a bit uncomfortable being around the loud dogs barking.
“But it’s still good for her to socialize. It’s just a lot of noise and she’s not used to that.”
It’s the third year Symon and Luna came out to the monastery for a blessing.
“I think that it’ll maybe help her health in the future,” Symon said.
The number of pet owners at the event demonstrated the meaning pets have in society and what they do for people individually.
“I know Luna’s a big part of my life,” Symon stated. ” She’s definitely a de-stressor for me. I know that rabbits aren’t the most common type of animals, but especially after a hard day at work, it’s nice to come home just to pet her super soft fur. She has fur like velvet. To that end, she’s really part of the family.”
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