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Patron of Dogs? Not St. Francis!

I finally got a chance to look at the diocesan newspaper and it had wonderful pictures of pet blessings from around the diocese, including an adorable girl and her guinea pig. The occasion had been the Feast of St. Francis earlier this month. Pets are as welcome at our house as people and we have lots of both: 6 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 12 indoor/outdoor fish.

When I was in high school I found and brought home stray dogs, three separate times. Looking back, I can now appreciate how my parents may not have been as excited about my finding these shaggy creatures! Everyone I know immediately thinks of St. Francis of Assisi as the patron saint of animals. I have been known to send up a prayer to him when we are adopting a shelter pet to share our lives.

NotFrancis+I have always thought St. Francis of Assisi was the patron of dogs. Imagine my surprise when I found out that St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs, not St. Francis!

St. Roch is known to be a French noble who lived in the 1300s. He cared for plague victims in Italy and was known for miraculous cures. When he contracted the plague himself he went to the woods to die. We are told he was found there by hunting dogs who brought him food and licked his wounds, which began to heal. It is said that he returned to Rome with a dog, where they worked to care for and heal the sick and dying.

It is a lovely example of working side by side with one of God’s creatures. Pets become  (furry) members of our family. The next time I need a prayer for our dog, Rika, I will ask for St. Roch’s intercession.

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