NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three dozen animals in need of a home received a special blessing Tuesday from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Dogs, cats, kittens and one rabbit — all rescue animals — were assembled outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the annual Blessing of the Animals marking the start of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

“He’s the saint who reminded us that God’s love is revealed through creation and creatures,” Dolan said.

Joined by workers and volunteers from the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals and the Humane Society, the cardinal offered kind words and prayer.

“We ask you to bless these pets and the people who rescue them and take care of them,” Dolan said. “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

“It’s an honor to be blessed by his eminence,” Sandra Defeo of the Humane Society told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport. “It’s just a real honor for us.”

Organizers said the event shines a light on the importance of animal adoption.

“They’re all rescue animals, they’re all fabulous, waiting for a new home and their second chance,” said Jane Hoffman with the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals. “They’re all up for adoption.”

If you are interested in adopting one of these homeless pets, visit www.animalalliancenyc.org.

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