Patricia Appelbaum

Patricia Appelbaum, an independent historian of American Christianity, is the author of St. Francis of America: How a Thirteenth-Century Friar Became America’s Most Popular Saint.

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.
October 27, 2015