2007_10_blessing.JPGThis Sunday, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine will be holding the annual Blessing of the Animals, to mark the Feast of St. Francis. Many churches celebrate St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and birds, either on his feast day (which was yesterday) or the first weekend near it.

The animal blessing at St. John's will have a parade of animals at 12:30PM, with animals including a white reindeer, a camel, two llamas, a black sheep, a golden eagle, a monkey and a boer goat. There is a religious service 11AM-12PM, an outdoor fair and pet blessing between 11AM and 4PM, and a performance by the artist in residence Paul Winter.

There are also pet blessings at many other churches in the city this weekend; here's one list of pet blessings in New York State (the Bronx and Brooklyn are listed, but Manhattan and Queens are lumped in). We liked this description of the pet blessing at St. Edmund Church at 1901 Avenue T in Brooklyn: "All pets must be accompanied by their owners and human friends!!! Children may bring their stuffed animals if they don't have a pet. If an animal is unable to attend, photos or an article attached to the pet may be brought to be blessed." St. Edmund's pet blessing is on Sunday at 1:30PM; the man who organizes it, James Quitoni, spoke to WNBC about how getting his arthritic dog Echo blessed helped them both.

Photograph of animal blessing courtesy of St. John the Divine