By Gus Saltonstall
The beloved Procession of the Animals and Blessing of Pets is returning to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on October 1 for the first time since 2018.
The holy event gives people the chance to bring their own pets to the cathedral at West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue to be blessed in honor of St. Francis, while also getting a chance to see animals you wouldn’t find walking down a New York City street.
There will be tortoises, camels, crowned cranes, sloths, NYPD horses, and more, proceeding down the length of the Cathedral’s central walkway.
The Upper West Side cathedral hasn’t hosted the Procession of Animals for five years, because a 2019 fire, followed by pandemic-era changes, stymied the gathering.
Last year, people were able to bring their pets to the church in celebration, but there was no procession.
During the five-year pause in the event, the cathedral reflected on whether they were causing the animals “undue stress for our own pleasure?”
“We have concluded that it is indeed possible to bring animals into the Cathedral in a way that does not harm them,” Dean Patrick Malloy wrote on the cathedral’s website. “We have also concluded that, while the animals do bring us great pleasure, the real purpose of the procession is not that.
“It is to recognize and give glory to God, the source of all life, for the wonders of animals great and small and in spirit of Saint Francis, to let our hearts be moved by their grandeur,” he added.
The Procession of the Animals and corresponding mass will take place October 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The majority of passes for the service have already been given out, but there will be an additional limited number of free tickets handed out the morning of the event. Also, those who make donations of more than $300 will get reserved seats and be acknowledged during the service.
Following the Procession of the Animals, there will a St. Francis Day Fair that features fun activities, food, and the chance for your pet to receive a blessing from cathedral and diocesan clergy.
The St. Francis Day Fair will take place rain or shine from 12:30 to 3 p.m.
There will be local food vendors, organizations, and professional pet portrait artists.
There is no required ticket or pass to attend the fair and get a blessing for your dog, cat, hamster, bird, lizard, fish, or any other pet you might have.
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