Cathedral Of St. John The Divine hosts annual Blessing of the Animals, Sunday 10/7

Susan Richard
October 05, 2018 - 6:45 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) “Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth.”

So said St. Francis of Assisi, according to Christian teaching, and each October an array of beasts big and small, wild and domesticated, flock to Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood to take part in the annual festival that honors the patron saint of animals.

This year’s Blessing of The Animals at the famed Cathedral of St. John the Divine takes place Sunday, October 7th beginning at 10:30 a.m., but you should plan on getting there early if you’re bringing Fido.  Thousands turn out each year for this event, in which attendees are invited to bring their pets, albeit on a leash or in a carrier. But it’s not just cats and dogs. “We bring in giraffes and yaks and cows and pigs. Two thousand people, cats and dogs, two-legged critters and four-legged critters,” says the Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, Dean of the Cathedral.  “Everybody together. It’s like Noah’s Ark on a Sunday morning.”

The service also features Paul Winter and Paul Halley’s Missa Gaia (or Earth Mass) with music and dance performances, along with the main attraction, the procession of farm and exotic animals down the nave of the Cathedral to the “green pulpit.” Dean Daniel says it’s a truly sacred experience. “You come to appreciate creation in a whole different way; that we’re all in this together,” he told 1010 WINS. “We’re one big community. We’re all part of the same organism, the same reality.  It’s a gathering of the world.”

After the service, church clergy are available outside the Cathedral as part of a festival that includes individual blessings of people’s pets. Others choose to present a photo, often of a pet that’s passed.

If you don’t have a pet but are looking to bring one into your family, adoptable animals will be on hand from Animal Care Centers of NYC.

Dean Daniel concedes that the event does require a clean-up crew, joking that industrial strength wee-wee pads are needed. He noted that last year he had to get his vestments professionally cleaned after a camel sneezed on him!

He also notes that everybody is welcome.  “You don’t have to be a Christian,” he stressed to 1010 WINS, “You just come. You’re part of the creation too. We all are. Let’s enjoy this day together, as a community.”

The Feast of Saint Francis and Blessing of the Animals take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave, NYC, Sunday, October 7th, 2018. Doors opening at 9:45 a.m. (but get there earlier). For more info, click HERE.

(Photo credit: Helena Kubicka Bragança, courtesy the Cathedral of St. John the Divine)