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Furry, slithering friends blessed for St. Francis of Assisi

ERICA RODRIGUEZ

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Oct. 4, 2010 at 5:04 a.m.

Alex Angerstein, 7, holds his dog, Duke, as he waits for him to be blessed by priests of Our Lady of Victory Cathedral on the school's football field. People brought animals of all kinds including dogs, cats, rabbits, a horse and a sheep to be blessed Monday in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

Alex Angerstein, 7, holds his dog, Duke, as he waits for him to be blessed by priests of Our Lady of Victory Cathedral on the school's football field. People brought animals of all kinds including dogs, cats, rabbits, a horse and a sheep to be blessed Monday in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

About a year ago, Sarah the Snake, a calm and slippery ball python, was found on a Victoria driveway circled by cats.

"She was being surrounded by cats about to get eaten," said William Porr, a sixth-grader at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School who rescued the reptile.

Monday afternoon, William took her to be blessed by local clergy at his school because he never wants the same thing to happen again.

"I want her to have a good life," he said, cradling the reptile.

School children and parents brought cats, dogs, fish, livestock, rodents and guinea pigs in a laundry basket to receive a blessing in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

"It's to remember that we are, in a sense, put on this earth with these creatures ..." said the Rev. Michael Rother, associate pastor at the church. "As we bless, them we remind the students that these animals are creatures of God and to be revered."

Animal yelps were silenced and children bowed their heads as Rother said a short prayer over the crowd.

"By doing this, we share in your own love for all creation," he said.

Rother and clergy walked around the children splashing holy water onto cages, poodles and children's heads.

Madeleine Jones, a 13-year-old, pranced around bareback on her America Quarter Horse, Ellie May, before the blessing. The young barrel-racer wanted prayer for future competitions.

"This is her first time to be blessed and I feel like she really needs it," Madeleine said, slapping the horse's neck. "Maybe God will give us a good winning year this year."

Elsewhere, Taylor Janak, held a squirming dachshund mix named Sadie.

"I've always felt that dogs are like my brothers and my sisters," she said. "...They love me unconditionally and they're just a gift."

After the blessing, William reflected on why his pet Sarah came into his life.

"We are stewards of creation," he said, clutching the python to his chest. "That's why he created humanity."

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