Animal lovers have their pets blessed on Saint Francis of Assisi Day

Pet owners in Peru go to unusual lengths to ensure their loved ones prosper for the rest of their days.

Every year, the Saint Francis of Assisi church in Lima conducts a blessing ceremony in honour of a patron saint that is thought to protect animals.

"Saint Francisco has been identified as the patron saint of ecology,” says Franciscan priest Michael Flores, who led this year’s ritual on Sunday. “He spoke to us, many centuries ago, about the meaning of pets, the meaning that nature has for each of us."

To receive the blessing, the Catholic faithful raise their pets above their heads so the priest can sprinkle them with holy water, which is meant to signal good health.

"Today is a very special day for pets where they receive blessings of Saint Francis,” said Freddy Fernandez, who took his much-loved rooster along to the ceremony.

“I have brought my pet here, so they could also receive Saint Francis' holy blessing."