NEW YORK (CBS 2) – It was a different flock that gathered for church services on Sunday morning, as congregants of the two- and four-legged varieties gathered in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
The Cathedral of St. John the Devine celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Parishioners – and their pets – jammed the church to receive special blessings, reports CBS 2′s Wendy Gillette.
From the biggest animals in the kingdom to the smallest creature, all were welcome in the church on Sunday.
“This is a day that allows us to celebrate God’s creation, and all the creatures that are in it,” Bishop Mark Sisk said.
There were cats, a guinea pig, a ferret, bunnies, birds, a miniature pony, sheep, goats, and all types of dogs making friends – and competing for best-dressed.
“He’s wearing a virgin of Guadalupe t-shirt, because we’re in church today,” dog owner Ronni Kolotkin said of her pooch. “It’s a Mexican saint and it’s a Chihuahua – that’s why.”
Dancers took over the center aisle, and soaring voices filled the church with joy. Pet owners mostly had simple and sweet reasons to get blessings.
“Because it’s good for him,” said one.
“I love him, so hopefully he will be with me a long, long, long time,” said another.
Some, however, had ulterior motives.
“Cymbi needs redemption, because the kitty is naughty,” Cheryl Burley said of her cat.
On this day, there was redemption for all. It was the 26th annual Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.