On Friday morning, October 2, the regular St. Mark's chapel service featured a much-loved annual tradition: the Blessing of the Animals. This year, of course, the service had to be virtual, so instead of pets lining up and being led down the aisle of Belmont Chapel, students, faculty, and staff sent in photos of their beloved pets.
On Zoom, the service opened with a musical prelude featuring English composer John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth," followed by a welcome from Rev. Barbara Talcott, head chaplain at St. Mark's. After a reading from Bethany Batista '21, Rev. Katie Solter, the School's associate chaplain, spoke about St. Francis.
The Blessing of the Animals service at St. Mark's is always held annually at the scheduled chapel service closest to St. Francis Day, which this year is October 4. Rev. Solter spoke about St. Francis' love for animals, but also about his teachings on non-violence and radical hospitality. Following her talk, the images of 150 different animals—pets belong to St. Mark's students, faculty, staff, and their families—scrolled across the Zoom screen, while music played. Rev. Talcott then blessed all the animals in the St. Mark's community.
Peter Nelson '21 read the well-known "Prayer of St. Francis," followed by silent prayer and meditation. The service concluded with Head of School John C. Warren '74 leading everyone in the School Prayer.
In these challenging times, the very fact of this service continuing a long-standing St. Mark's tradition delighted chapelgoers and helped to lift spirits and demonstrate the resilience and the shared joy of the St. Mark's family.