Published: Oct 10, 2011 11:22 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 11, 2011 12:05 AM EDT

FT. MYERS, Fla -- Some people are asking blessings for other members of their family: their pets. The tradition dates back hundreds of years.

A few unusual visitors are crowding the courtyard of Father Anglim Academy in Ft. Myers. They're all keeping Father Jim Simko very busy as he goes around blessing each and every one of them.

"They're bringing them here for a very special blessing, in honor of St Francis Day, which was about six days ago," he said.

The blessing of the animals is in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

"St. Francis was a very important person who lived in Italy, about 750 years ago, and he had an affinity for all of God's creation, and saw God's love and light reflected in everything that God created," said Father Jim.

The blessing is for protection and long life. For some like Golden Retriever Luigi it's much needed. "He's been bit by a snake, that happened recently and his face swelled up," said Luigi's owner Marcello Musca.

Principal Matt Loge, who brought his own dog in for a blessing, notified parents about this event a few weeks ago.

"As you can see we had an excellent turnout, and we're really excited about the celebration today," said Loge. 

"I think it gives them a reaffirmation on spirituality, what God can do for the animals, too," said parent Charlene Snyder. 

"When your animal gets blessed, it's getting protection from God," said student Lisa Michaud.

No matter how big or small, it's a blessing for them all.