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

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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.”

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“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!

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