Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Blessing of the Animals

I just found out this morning--Sunday, October 7th, is the Feast of St. Francis, and on that day, ever since 1985, The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has held a remarkable event. At 11am, thousands of animals of many species (most certainly including dogs), and their human companions will enter the cathedral for a celebration of the Eucharist--and a long church service it is, around two hours, as I understand--probably helps weed out the frivolous. After the service, the animals are taken outside, to receive the blessing.

You can get advance passes, but a bit late for that now. It's a first-come first-served kind of affair, which means if you want you and your furred or feathered brethren to get into the cathedral itself, you better arrive really early (9am at least, preferably sooner) , and be prepared for the possibility of disappointment. However, the fair just outside the church starts at the same time as the service, and continues until 4pm. There'll be plenty of animals, inside and outside. In some ways, the fair is a lot easier on the system (if you get into the cathedral, you could end up being in there for FOUR HOURS), but all those animals under that massive vaulted ceiling would be a sight to see, wouldn't it?

I'm not Episcopalian, and I'm pretty sure Max isn't either, but this is an event (and an NYC institution) that has appealed to many outside the specific denomination, as this article demonstrates nicely.

I think we'll walk Max down there tomorrow morning--may not make it into the church, but the fair sounds lovely, and I've been meaning to visit the dog run in nearby Morningside Park.

It should go without saying that you should ask yourself some serious questions about your dog's likely conduct at such a celebration, surrounded by other dogs and a vast array of birds and beasts (most certainly including cats). Max has met horses in Van Cortlandt Park, and was deeply impressed by them. He has been known to chase the occasional squirrel or rat when outdoors, but his primary reaction to other animals is curiosity, and a desire to live in harmony. I believe he and St. Francis would have been kindred spirits. St. Francis, after all, once made friends with a wolf. Well, that's the story. I'm not a terribly observant Catholic these days, but there are parts of the tradition I was raised in that I most fervently want to believe, and this is one of them. Even if I have to go to an Episcopalian church to find it.


alice said...

hi, Chris,
I went to grammar school at Cathedral and the St. Francis day service is incredible.
On another note, I'm the new project manager for a dog adoption/welfare site called which you should check out. It's quite new but seems to be doing well, with a Reuters article last week and an AP one scheduled soon, as well as some local TV news spots. It might be worth a blog article as well?

Chris said...

I don't think we'll be able to get there early enough to get into the Cathedral--maybe next year we'll get passes in advance.

I'll check out, and an article shall be forthcoming in the near future. Maybe I could interview you? Or you could appoint Hannah as your spokescanine. ;)

alice said...

Sure, I'm down for an interview. Hannah doesn't know the details of the website (I don't want to upset her little sensibilities), so she wouldn't make the best spokespuppy.
That's a link to a news clip from an NBC affiliate in Virginia which you can watch online.

And that's the Reuters article.

Chris said...

I need a few days to catch up--I want to blog about today's events, and a few other things--I'll do some reading, and come up with some questions to ask you--we can conduct the interview via email, which saves me the trouble of taking notes. ;)

Had a nice time today--now I have many pictures to download. Then upload.

alice said...

Great. My email is Glad you enjoyed St. Francis Day.