Photos: Upper West Siders Make a Habit of Blessing Their Animals At St. Francis Celebrations


Nun could protest as the Rev. Canon Constance C. Coles blessed animals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Throughout the weekend, Upper West Siders celebrated the Feast of Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment, with blessings and pet-centric services at St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church on 86th Street as well as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on 114th.


Pups awaited their blessings at St. Paul and St. Andrew.

Reverend Lea Matthews of St. Paul and St. Andrew oversaw a Friday evening service at the church and credited her own dog, Hattie, a 14-month-old Goldendoodle, for inspiring her to host others in honoring their pets.


It wasn’t just canines, some winged creatures received blessings too.

“I thought it was an opportunity to meet people in their every day lives,” she said. “There are so many people whose animal companions are very important to them, and what a wonderful opportunity for the church to recognize that relationship.”

On Sunday afternoon, Upper West Siders took part in the 32nd annual gathering at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Traditionally, the service has included a procession of animals inside the cathedral. Due to a fire that occurred on Palm Sunday and the church’s subsequent cleaning and conservation efforts, the event took place outside on church grounds. Representatives for the church noted that they expect the traditional service and procession to return to the cathedral in 2020.

“The event is really exciting,” said Isadora Wilkenfeld, Manager of Cathedral Programming and Communications at St. John the Divine. “It’s such a wonderful expression of both the spirituality around animals and the natural world, and also just a wonderful way to see the whole neighborhood community come out and celebrate their pets and life in general.”

NEWS | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Barli Nugent says:

      There was also a blessing of the animals that day at Church of the Blessed Sacrament on West 71st Street.

    2. geoff says:

      wow. a dog wearing a crucifix, dressed as a nun.

      wow.

      • Glen says:

        I agree. I am not religious, in fact I am borderline atheist, but dressing a dog like that is extremely poor taste. I think the Rev. Canon Constance C. Coles should take her position a little more seriously and have discussed the matter with the dog’s owner, rather than smile and pose for photos with the animal.

        • GeorgeCPW says:

          Glen, Do you have no sense of humor and nothing better to do than act as the anonymous arbiter of internet manners? Lighten up and get another job.

        • Jessica says:

          Glen- get a life.

          There are far worse things to worry about in this world. The Blessing of the Animals is a beautiful and wonderful thing.

    3. Naomi says:

      This was such a great event! My dog and I had a fabulous time. It really brought the community together.

    4. petlover says:

      This trendy practice doesn’t sit well with me and I’m Catholic. I also went to a Franciscan University so I am well aware of St. Francis’ love of animals but the humanization of pets has gotten way out of hand. Rolling them around in strollers, bringing them into stores, traveling with them on planes? If we treated one another with such love and kindness the world would be a much better place.

      • GeorgeCPW says:

        Yes, if we treated each other with the same love as we give to pets, the world would be a better place. But treating pets with love doesn’t preclude treating people with love. It’s not a zero-sum game. And some of the things you object to about how pets are treated suggest that you have an animus against them or their owners that is unrelated to the blessing of animals at St. John the Divine. The things you complain of are not “humanization of pets” although they may sometimes be self-indulgent and inconsiderate on the part of their owners.

    5. CLAYELLE DALFERES says:

      St. Francis would approve!!