Paws in the pews for Bourne Abbey Church’s pet service

Rebecca Pickering and Liz Dacombe with their dogs Bella and Poppy EMN-160925-173632009
Rebecca Pickering and Liz Dacombe with their dogs Bella and Poppy EMN-160925-173632009
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The vicar wasn’t the only one wearing a dog collar at Bourne Abbey Church this weekend – as pets were invited along for a special service.

The church held its annual pet service on Sunday and parishioners took the opportunity to take their four-legged friends.

In previous years, the event has been attended by cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and even a snake – but this time the only animal guests were canine.

The service is held every year on the Sunday closest to the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi – the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Father Chris Atkinson, who led the service, said it was an enjoyable occasion.

He said: “The annual pet service has been going for more than 10 years now and is always popular with pet owners of all ages.

“We have had all sorts of animals brought along over the years, although this time it was just dogs.

“The service is shorter and more informal than usual to meet the needs of our congregation.

“At one point we thought numbers were tailing off a bit, but I was happy with attendance this year and we will holding the service again in 2017.”

Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, was an Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher.

Many of the stories that surround the life of St Francis – who lived between 1182 and 1226 – say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.

His feast day is observed every year on October 4.