San Francisco church plans pet columbarium to hold ashes of 1,000 animals


A father-daughter sailing duo came to the rescue of a man who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on May 20, 2013.


Justin Sullivan

PETALUMA, Calif. — Do all animals go to heaven? The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi wants them well-positioned for the possibility by creating San Francisco's first pet columbarium, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Church leaders are currently raising funds for the 850-square-foot pet memorial space, the city's first "final resting place for the furry and feathered," as the Chronicle cutely put it

The new columbarium, which organizers hope will be up and running by spring, will be able to hold the ashes of up to 1,000 animals, according to the Associated Press.

Cremation costs have not yet been decided, but SFGate said everything will go on display in a space reminiscent of the Roman catacombs. 

Sound ambitious? That isn't the half of it. There will even be a "Hall of Honor" for service animals, said the AP. Police dogs and horses will reportedly get their own separate area.

Plans also include individual display cases for pet urns equipped with a video loop of photos, all of which is to be illuminated by a new stained-glass rendering of St. Francis, the Catholic patron saint of animals.

And if St. Francis doesn't mean much to you, that's OK too. Even non-Catholic pets (and their owners) will be welcomed at the shrine because, as the church's Reverend Harold Snider told the AP: "You don't have to be Christian or Catholic to love your pets and respect their memories."

Major donations are currently being sought — the idea being, as SF Gate put it: "if one lifetime isn’t enough for animal owners to pamper their pets, one North Beach church is planning to offer them a way to express their love for all eternity." Amen.