St. Patrick’s Cathedral Adds Something New To Nativity Scene

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Behind the Blessed Virgin Mary and between the donkey and cow is a new addition to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral crèche: man’s best friend.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

St. Patrick’s rector Monsignor Robert Ritchie sets up the nativity each year at St. Patrick’s. This year, he decided to create a new tradition to reflect the dogs’ presence.

It’s a dog in the likeness of Ritchie’s own Lexington, a yellow lab he got 15-years-ago, just two days before Christmas.

“It turned out that the dog they showed me looked very much like my own dog,” Ritchie told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “Lexington, when he saw him for the first time came over, smelled him and licked him on the nose and I figured that was his blessing for the dog.”

“I see something there that’s not usually there,” tourist Heather Adams said.

“Yep, I’m wondering why there’s a dog in a nativity,” said tourist Collette Altmann.

Although there is no specific mention of a dog in the nativity story in the Gospels, the Monsignor says, “I’ve seen it in Rome. I’ve seen it in Assisi. I think in the Metropolitan Museum [of Art], they have one in the Neapolitan crèche.”

“Well if there were shephards, they probably brought their dogs, so I think there was a dog there,” Ritchie said. “So, it’s not unprecedented at all. And if you think of it, shepherds always had dogs, and when they came to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus, they must have brought a dog with them anyway.”

It’s as if the new addition is keeping watch over the manger.

“After when Jesus is born, the dog must lick him,” joked visitor Ario Diaz.

“The whole concept of having a manger, which came from St. Francis of Assisi, was to emphasize the humanity of Jesus and the fact that he was a very poor baby when he was born. His circumstances were very, very poor. Having a dog there is just making it even more normal,” said Ritchie.

Friday is Lexington the Second’s first full day in the nativity and judging by the reaction from crowds, he’s here to stay.

Do you like the idea of adding a dog to the nativity scene? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • Sue Sylvestro

    I also have my mom’s very old nativity set , and it does have the dog , and sheep , a camel , and the 3 wisemen , its my treasure : ) we have 5 dogs , and 2 are labs , a dobie , and a boston terrier !! and we just recently rescued a beautiful german shepherd , he stays right by my hubbys side : ) dog & god are connected i believe !

  • Deoacveritati

    I love the idea of a dog added to the Nativity scene. Dogs are kind and gentle creatures and I for one enjoy the thought of a dog being around keeping watch when Our Lord Jesus Christ was born.

    God loves humans and loves animals I am sure He won’t mind the idea.

    May all of us have a Blessed Christmas!!!

  • Peter

    If there aren’t dogs in heaven, I don’t want to go there! Hooray for the dog in the manger scene.

  • Sharon

    I love the idea of the dog, but I also agree that it should have been a Canaan dog, which is a very old breed from the Holy Land. The shephards would have had a Canaan dog and not a labrador or golden retriever.

  • arcy

    Mine has a dog, mice, doves..who decided what animals were/ were not there? This is a NON STORY!!

  • Meg Lauer

    I’m wondering why the nativity scene is even up yet–isn’t it still Advent? I thought the Christmas items didn’t go out until after the last Sunday of Advent.
    Love the idea of a dog though.

  • susan

    Shepherds tended sheep – they of course needed dogs! Absolutely dogs visited the Manger! I have dogs in my Manger every year. Having Lex in the Manger at St. Pat”s makes this a perfect Christmas!!!

  • Carolyn

    I joyfully agree with the presence of the dog in the manger…will be adding one this year and in the future. Maddie thanks for the reminder.

  • Anita

    I think its great. My own Nativity scene that I put up for Christmas was purchased by my mother about 50 years ago and the shepherd has a dog with him, as he stands before the Christ Child.

  • Maureen

    I have a nativity from the Depression era (it was my Dad’s as a child), ane there is a dog with the shepherd :-)

  • Barbara

    The dog is the BEST addition to the nativity. Dog is Mans best friend and if you spell GOD backwards—what do you get? You got it–DOG


    • Ellen


  • Kim

    Funny, I was in St. Patrick’s yesterday and the first thing I said was “there’s a dog in the nativity” It’s cute. For those “grinches” out there, that are making snide comments, give the church a break. I’m sure it didn’t cost that much and it’s in the spirit of the holidays.

  • Ellen

    St Frances was also a man that loved and honored all God”s creation. I love the fact that man’s best friend is in the nativity scene, and why not because as we know All Dogs Go To Heaven. Love It.

  • Jimmy D'Lox

    And this is what people have money for? My, my, my, such priorities.

  • Mike Baldwin

    Too bad Labradors didn’t exist back then lol

    But you should all listen to the audio above, it makes Monsignor Ritchie sound very…umm….smart? HAHA At least he found a way to preserve his own personal dog’s likeness on the church’s budget instead of using a service dog, or a war dog, or a 9/11 survivor dog or the countless other dog’s that might deserve recognition……………..

    • Perelandra

      Spoken like a true exemplar of the PC police state…

  • Daniel R. Marra, Sr.


    It is an Exellent Idea to have a dog in the Nativity Scene. Should have been done years ago, but there is no time like now to begin this new addition. God Bless All, and Merry Christmas.

  • helloo

    I think they should include cat too!

    • Texas Catholic

      Amen. The manger might have had a barn cat.

      • Adrian Johnson

        Our Priest is a cat person, and every year our large nativity figures are set in fresh hay under the altar-table. One Midnight Mass the church cat strolled up the aisle, carefully entered the creche, and curled up between Our Lady and Baby Jesus in the crib, and slept angelically through the rest of the Mass — many photos were taken of the tableau that night–the pastor’s ginger cat looked so natural there.

    • Lunasee

      I think a few cats…

  • M.O'Reilley

    Too bad this dog cannot tell us where the money went several million
    dollars given to the church to keep Saint Vincent’s hospital open and
    somehow is missing forcing this RC hospital to close,now money will
    be made from this church on the sale of real estate, If only that cute
    dog could talk.

  • Richard Po'o

    Wait a minute, show me where it says that Joseph, a skilled tradesman, was poor. That Jesus was raised poor.

    Every inn was full, nowhere does it say that they ended up in a manger because they couldn’t afford it.

    • ann

      You’re right Richard. The Holy family was NOT poor. Joseph did indeed make a good living as a carpenter even tho they may not have been rich. As for Our Blessed Mother, she actually was a decendent of King David, so She had royal blood. Her parents actually were quite well off.

  • Thomas Swist

    Our Nativity scene included a dog and a sheep; it was made in the 1930s.

  • ebruehl

    Love the dog.

  • Leonor Fontes

    i love the doggie addition, it’s a great idea. The whole thing is beautiful.

    • chris

      my 50 or older nativity has had dogs since it was bought, from italy of course. i never questioned it, it makes sense

    • Barbara Martinazzi

      How I wish my family and myself could be at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to view the dog and the creche in person. I love St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Only visited it three times when I was in New York City. I would never visit New York City again without going to Mass there or lighting a candle.

      P.S. I have had a dog in my creche since I bought it. Shephreds had to have dogs for protection against animals of prey.

  • Taybor

    and we don’t get to see a photo of it? Is film too expensive?

    • Thomas Swist

      I see the dog in the center Taybor, behind the cradle.

  • Maddie


    • Charlotte

      I love the idea of a dog, especially in one of the larger nativity scenes, as it ties the scene with the sheep to modern and ancient shepherds. However, the dog for the scene should be more like the Canaan Dog, the native dog of the Holy Land. The Pariah Dog was plentiful. See

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