The annual Blessing of the Animals will return to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Sunday, October 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The celebration — in honor of Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment — welcomes all pet owners to bring their furry friends.
Following a fire in the Cathedral in 2019 and pandemic-era changes to many large gatherings, the service’s Procession of Animals was removed from the liturgy while the Cathedral leadership weighed how best to safeguard animals and people indoors. Now, for 2023, the beloved procession returns, and attendees will once more find themselves awestruck at the sight of creatures including tortoises, camels, crowned cranes, sloths, and more, proceeding down the length of the Cathedral’s nave.
“The years without the procession gave us an opportunity to consider the ethics of bringing those great animals into the Cathedral and surrounding them with literally thousands of people and domestic pets,” The Very Reverend Patrick Malloy, Dean, said in a message to the Cathedral community. “We have concluded that it is indeed possible to bring animals into the Cathedral in a way that does not harm them. We have also concluded that, while the animals do bring us great pleasure, the real purpose of the procession is to recognize and give glory to God, the source of all life, for the wonders of animals great and small and in the spirit of Saint Francis, to let our hearts be moved by their grandeur.”
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Following the service, attendees are invited to stay for an afternoon fair on the Cathedral grounds, including info about community environmental programs and resources. Those with pets are also welcome to receive a special prayer for their four-legged friends from Cathedral and Diocesan clergy and immortalize their day out with pet portrait photography.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street. To learn more about this event, please click here.