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The Animal Blessing Way at St. John the Divine

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We visited the Cathedral of St. John the Divine yesterday to participate in the Feast of St. Francis service - and to see all the animals that flocked to Morningside Heights for the annual animal blessing. Many people brought their pets - mostly dogs, but there were quite a few cats, birds and bunny rabbits - and the cathedral was packed.

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One highlight of the service is the procession of animals. And everything from a camel, golden eagle and a monkey to hermit crabs, reindeer and lovebirds waited outside with their handlers until their big moment. Green Chimneys, a non-profit in New York that offers animal-assisted therapy to children, brought down many of the animals, including two llamas who love to kiss people (we know firsthand!), a Chinese goose, chicken, a miniature horse, goats - and Mr. Thumper the rabbit and Marvin the black sheep (above).

When the animals finally entered the cathedral, everyone oohed and aahed over seeing the animals escorted down the nave (best walks are a toss up between the little girls chasing the goose and the porcupine wheeled in - in a special Plexiglass case). Overall, it was a very joyous celebration, especially with the dances from the Paul Winter Group.

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After the service, everyone gathered in the courtyard, getting their pets blessed, asking others about their pets and enjoying the day. And yes, that's a 14-pound bunny in a carrier (above right).

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