Servite Father Jack Topper, executive director at The Grotto, blesses a dog during the annual Blessing of the Animals July 18.
St. Francis of Assisi was there in spirit at the Blessing of the Animals at Portland's Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, better known as the Grotto. From cats to birds, all of man’s many best friends were welcomed July 18, as Servite Father Jack Topper, executive director of the sanctuary on 85th and Sandy in Northeast Portland, used a fauna frond to sprinkle the beasts with holy water. There were readings and prayers, and all of the animals were paraded across the altar to be blessed by Father Topper. Gifts of thanks from the Grotto were given to the creatures in the form of small "doggie" bags filled with treats. Animal blessing is a custom that honors St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.