Shortly after Pope Francis visited the United States in September, many churches invoked his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, in services of blessing animals. From the spectacular event at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan to small gatherings of pets and pet owners on church lawns, Americans around the country marked Francis’s feast day, October 4, by blessing the animals.
They may not have realized that blessing the animals is a recent and very American development.
Books on spirituality abound, and the publication of new ones seems not to abate. Writings in this genre often focus on experience and practical disciplines of spirituality. The books featured below are not practical in that way; rather, they provide historical and theological analysis that is foundational to spirituality.