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Feast of St Francis of Assisi in the United Kingdom

Many churches in the United Kingdom observe the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. It is a popular day for pets to be “blessed”.

Is Feast of St Francis of Assisi a Public Holiday?

Feast of St Francis of Assisi is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Stained glass portrait of St. Francis.
Stained glass portrait of St. Francis.
St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment.
©iStockphoto.com/Mark Strozier

What Do People Do?

The Feast of St Francis of Assisi is a day when special church services are held to bless pets in the United Kingdom. Pets of all kids, including dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and even a 100-year-old tortoise, have been blessed in churches in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the past.

Some churches hold special celebrations or events to coincide with the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Some radio stations that broadcast classical music may feature songs associated with the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on this day.

Public Life

The Feast of St Francis of Assisi is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom.

Background

St Francis, who founded the Catholic Church’s Franciscan order, lived in Italy during the late 12th and 13th centuries. He is remembered for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to minister to the lepers. He is remembered for his love for animals and nature.  St Francis died at Portiuncula, Italy on October 4, 1226.

Pope Gregory IX pronounced St Francis a saint in 1228. The pope also laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy. The church, also known as Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Symbols

Symbols associated with St Francis of Assisi are:

  • Birds and animals.
  • A bag of gold and rich raiment at St Francis’ (of Assisi) feet.
  • A winged crucifix with five rays.
  • Stigmata.
  • A crown of thorns.
  • A lighted lamp.
  • A fiery chariot.
  • Animals such as birds, deer, and a wolf.
  • Fire.
  • A skull.

Some of these symbols are seen around the time of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Some churches in the United Kingdom are also named after St Francis.

About Feast of St Francis of Assisi in other countries

Read more about Feast of St Francis of Assisi.

Feast of St Francis of Assisi Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2011TueOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2012ThuOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2013FriOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2014SatOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2015SunOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2016TueOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2017WedOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2018ThuOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2019FriOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 
2020SunOct 4Feast of St Francis of AssisiChristian 

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