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   Date: 10/2/08

Animals Invited to Annual Blessing

A glorious procession of furry creatures, from wide-eyed cats to sad-eyed pointers, professionally trained horses, a billy goat and even a donkey will make their way to the altar of Smith’s Helen Hills Hills Chapel on Sunday, Oct. 5, for a Celebration Mass for the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (Italy). The mass, which will take place at 4:30 p.m., invites members of the Smith community and the public to bring their animals to church.

The mass celebrates the love that St. Francis had for all God’s creatures, encompassing the sun, moon, stars and animals who share the earth with man. A 13th-century Roman Catholic friar who was founder of the Order of Friars Minor, St. Francis is considered the patron saint of the environment. Often annual ceremonious masses are held around his feast day to bless animals. 

For the past six years the Chapel has conducted a local service that encourages members of the Smith and larger Northampton Community to bring their pooches, felines and farm animals to share in the traditional blessing. 

In honor of St. Francis, some of the mass will be held in Italian. The Italian department will participate in the festivities with Professor Alfonso Procaccini speaking on the meaning of the famed Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon in our daily lives. Professors Giovanna Bellesia, who created delightful flyers for the service featuring her own dogs, and Giulia Benghi will do the scriptural readings while Sara Scott ’09 will sing the canticle, which will also be recited in Italian by students from the Junior Year Abroad program in Florence. Children in the congregation get involved by singing All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir. Father David Joyce of Springfield will serve as celebrant. 

A special Italian meal in Bodman Lounge following the mass will top off the community celebration. All are welcome. For more information, contact, or call the Chapel Office at (413)585-2753.

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