There was a bearded dragon and an ornery goose at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Sunday afternoon, as well as a 45-year-old giant tortoise named Oscar, three magnificent raptors, a horned goat, a pair of barely-there baby chicks, a handful of enormous cockroaches, a flat-headed fennec fox, and innumerable dogs, cats, and other household pets.

The occasion, of course, was the annual Feast of St. Francis and Blessing of the Animals, when the world's largest gothic cathedral invites in as many beasts as it can hold, then sends them on their way newly holy and at peace. The larger point of the ceremony is to celebrate the wonder and beauty within the animal kingdom, and to honor the dignity of all creatures.

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In addition to the grand procession of unusual-for-these-parts animals, the Blessing also featured music (the Paul Winter consort joined by a hundreds-strong choir), readings and prayers, and an exuberant African dance performance via Forces of Nature.

After the indoor program, hundreds of locals and their pets mingled in the Cathedral's Pulpit Green, lining up before one of several pastors to receive an individual blessing. The owners are often visibly moved by this ritual, while the animals appeared less impressed. Click through the photos for a look.