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Friday, July 26, 2013

San Francisco Church to Build City's First Pet Catacomb

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge RIP Snowball
  • RIP Snowball

Remember when you were 5 years old and your parents said that Snowball, your adorable, fluffy cat isn't home anymore because she went to "live on a farm" with many other Snowball's?

Well, we are here to tell you the truth: Snowball died.

We don't know what your parents did with Snowball's body, but whatever it is, it was probably harsher than you had hoped for her. To be fair, if you spent your childhood in San Francisco, then your parents probably didn't have a backyard to bury Snowball.

Lucky for you (and all the other soon-to-be-deceased Snowballs out there), the church leaders at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in North Beach are planning to build the city's first pet Columbarium -- a fancy name for a public storage of urns. This will become the final resting place for all our furry and scaly friends out there.

The pet-friendly catacomb is expected to be finished by next spring, and will nest in an 850-square-foot space underneath a staircase in the 164-year-old historic church. The space was discovered when crews were doing construction work at the church, says Father Harold Snider, rector at National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

The church say your pet doesn't have to be Catholic to rest there -- all animals whether they're Christians, gentiles, blasphemers, or any creed in between, will be welcomed in the Columbarium. However what is necessary is a fee (price has not yet been determined) to place your pet there.

The church has not yet put a price tag on the project, which will house cremated remains of up to 1,000 animals.

Snider told us that as a pet lover himself -- who grew up with cats, dogs, and rabbits -- he can empathize with grieving families who want to give their furry friends a proper, respectful place to rest.

He then talked about an elderly woman who had approached him a few weeks ago expressing concern that the ashes of her pets would be disposed of when she passes.

"A pet isn't just some animal, a pet becomes a valued member of the family," Snider says. "They give unconditional love, and they can touch human beings in the emotional areas that are often very difficult for other human beings to reach. As such, this Columbarium can be a final testament of that unconditional love."

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi is named after St. Francis of Assisi, known to all Catholics as the patron saint of animals. He lived in Italy during the late 12th and 13th centuries and was known for his generosity to animals, lepers, the poor, and the environment.

Snider says he has already received a couple of inquiries this morning. The church welcomes anyone else who is interested to contact him at

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Natalia Aldana

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