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Zoo Gets Blessing During Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo received a special blessing during the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Father Larry Gosselin and Brother Martin, with buckets of holy water in hand, began their trek around the zoo Sunday afternoon.

“Peace be to this zoo, to all the animals and people that reside here,” said Gosselin to the crowd standing near him.

This was a first for the priest and the animals.

“We’re actually going to be going to all the different cages and blessing all the animals with holy water and just asking that peace be with them,” he said.

They visited every creature from the pink flamingos to the alligator.

“I knew we couldn’t bring the animals to the mission, so I approached Father Larry with him coming to the zoo,” said Claudia Chyla, the blessing organizer.

Gosselin blessed a 1-year-old armadillo, much to her surprise.

“We ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” said Gosselin as he reached out to touch her.

“Whoops!” he said as the the little animal flinched in the hands of the zoo keeper.

The two largest creatures at the zoo, elephants Suzi and Little Mac, seemed to pay close attention during their blessing.

“And so we ask Gods blessing upon you that you might be filled with peace and that you might know in the intimacy of your own elephant hearts the great love that God has for you,” said the priest.

All the animals got a sprinkle of holy water and a prayer, a traditional blessing by the Franciscans in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.

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