Owners and their pets attend a mass at the Saint Pierre D'Arene church to honor the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in Nice, France, on Oct. 6. Eric Gaillard / Reuters
The Rev. Gil Florini blesses a dog during a mass for animals at Saint-Pierre-d'Arene's church in the southeastern French city of Nice, on Oct. 6. Valery Hache / AFP - Getty Images
A Scarlet Macaw named Princess Tiffany is perched on a pew in St. Andrew's United Church in North Vancouver, British Columbia, on Oct. 6. The bird was one of several parishioners' pets attending services prior to an animal blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Andy Clark / Reuters
Furry creatures of all shapes and sizes were welcomed into churches on Sunday in celebration of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Each October, churches remember St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment, by offering a special blessing for pets.
St. Francis was known as a champion of the poor, and serves as the pope’s namesake. Pope Francis has embraced St. Francis’ mission of humility and simplicity.
On Friday, he visited the Umbrian hillside town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.
A Catholic priest blesses a pet turtle during the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, outside the Saint Francis church in Lima, Peru, on Oct. 6. Enrique Castro-mendivil / Reuters
Hector Hernandez has his snake Beatriz blessed by a Catholic priest during a mass in honor of Saint Francis of Assis, on Oct. 6 in Venezuela. Ariana Cubillos / AP
A dog sits in the aisle of Saint Pierre D'Arene church during a mass to honor the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi in Nice, France, on Oct. 6, 2013. Eric Gaillard / Reuters
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Pope visits birthplace of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi