Dogs In Costume season got off to a strong start on Sunday afternoon at St. John the Divine, as the world's largest Gothic cathedral played host once again to the annual Saint Francis Blessing of the Animals. Dozens of neighborhood pets showed up to receive words of love and blessing—it's always a moving experience, even for those of us just watching—from several priests roaming the lawn. There were mostly dogs in attendance, of course, but at least a half dozen cats made the trip, as well as a few birds, including Lady Gaga the chicken, and one fluffy guinea pig. 

The scene was much more domesticated than usual. Ongoing cleaning and conservation work from the fire in the crypt on Palm Sunday last spring meant that the whole event took place outside on the grounds, so there was no procession of animals down the aisle of the massive Cathedral. No coatimundis. No snowy owls. No alpacas. As such, the turnout was considerably less than usual, but there were still plenty of good dogs to look at and play with.   

To add some excitement, the Cathedral encouraged all animals to arrive in costume, both for the blessings and a subsequent parade around the grounds. For instance, John Mulaney was spotted with his dog Petunia, who was dressed as a butterfly (see photo #8 in the gallery).

This is John Mulaney and Annamarie Tendler's dog Petunia

Courtesy of Nevona Friedman

The Mettawee River Dance Theater was also on hand, entertaining the crowd in their vaguely paganistic animal outfits. A couple of pet adoption agencies set up shop as well, in hopes that visitors might want to attend next year's blessing with their own pets or more pets. Check out more adorable photos up above.