The St. Monica Parish Community in Santa Monica celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, during the third annual Blessing of Animals Sunday, October 5th.

The event was held in the park across from the St. Monica Parish church, 725 California Ave., Santa Monica.

The traditional event commemorates the “deep and abiding love for all of creation that defined the 13th century life of Francis,” according to the parish. The saint is often pictured with animals because he held what was considered a radical belief for the time — that animals, as part of God’s creation, are worthy of respect, according to the parish.

Music, stories of the saint’s life, blessings and a complementary memento of St. Francis highlighted the event.

The Blessing was offered by Fr. Michael Tang, chair of the Fine Arts Department at Loyola Marymount University. An award-winning artist, Tang’s work is exhibited widely, and can be found in permanent collections, says a church spokesman.

For nine years, his watercolor art has been featured on posters of the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Maryland. Tang is a member of the American Academy of Equine Art.

St. Monica pastor Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson welcomed all animal lovers to the Blessing.

“St. Francis saw the presence of God in all living creatures,” said Torgerson, “and it’s fitting that we can extend a blessing to animals in that saint’s name.”