Cathedral to Hold a ‘Blessing of the Animals’ for Creatures Big, Small and Marsupial

A kangaroo blessed at a previous St. Francis festival. Photo via St. John the Divine.

By Carol Tannenhauser

This Sunday — as it has on the first Sunday of October for more than 30 years (except in 2020 when it was virtual) — the Cathedral of St. John the Divine will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis in person. There will be a live-streamed “hybrid” service, with clergy on hand, and outdoor blessings and activities, to honor animals and the environment.

The event will take place on October 3rd, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Cathedral, located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, at 112th Street. A press release provides further details.

The Cathedral’s Feast of St. Francis pays tribute to Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Cathedral has rethought the annual worship service and afternoon fair to keep all congregants safe. The service will be livestreamed from inside the Cathedral. Community members wishing to watch and participate in the service are welcomed to the Cathedral’s spacious outdoor grounds, where the service will be streamed to a large screen, and clergy will be on hand to administer Holy Eucharist to all who wish to take part. The traditional Procession of Animals down the Cathedral Nave will not take place this year.

Following the service, the Cathedral will host an afternoon of celebration of all creatures and the natural world. Pet owners are invited to bring their furry, feathered, or scaly companions for a blessing by Cathedral clergy, and kids and their families can enjoy outdoor activities on the Cathedral’s Pulpit Green. The Mettawee River Theater Company, led by master puppeteer Ralph Lee, will perform joyous music in magical animal costumes. Information on Cathedral and neighborhood programs will be available, and those hoping to add a new pet to their families will have the opportunity to apply to adopt from the ASPCA.

If you prefer to enjoy St. Francis Day from home, this year’s service will be live-streamed from stjohndivine.org, as well as the Cathedral’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

For those who do attend in person, “No passes are needed to participate in the service outside on the grounds, or to attend the pet blessings or outdoor afternoon events. To ensure the safety of all participants, and in line with the Cathedral’s COVID-19 guidelines, all attendees are required to wear a mask on the Cathedral grounds. The Cathedral’s full COVID-19 policy is available at stjohndivine.org/covid.”

NEWS | 4 comments | permalink
    1. Joanne says:

      So glad they are bringing this back. My furry friend and I look forward to this. I’ve tried 2 other Churches but no one does the Feast of St. Francis like St. John the Divine.

    2. Bob says:

      I’d be worried that my dog might “bless” the cathedral…

    3. Mike says:

      I will be just across the street at the nursing home
      With a patient enjoying the festivities in the honor of St. Francis