Saint John The Divine, A Boy And Some Blessed Animals

Last weekend found me at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine with one rather dashing Southern gent by the name of Philip (refer to photographic evidence below).

Cute guy I went to church with

My gentleman escort last Sunday. At church no less.

 

It’s not often I’m at church, let alone a cathedral – with our without a gentleman – but as I’m sure you can guess, there was only one thing that could have lured me there.

The Cathedral Church of Saint John The Divine

Saint John The Divine, NY, NY (aka St. John the Unfinished)

 

It was indeed the promise of four-legged creaturesย  of all shapes and sizes at the Saint Francis Day Blessing of the Animals that got me up bright and early on a Sunday and so far north of midtown some New Yorkers might assume the need for a passport (or a password at the very least).

blessing of the animals saint john the divine 2013Saint John The Divine, Thou Shalt Not Poop

We made it there at the appropriated time only to be faced with a line three city blocks long. Not surprisingly I found myself in line behind a cat by the name of Sweet Pea completely nonplussed by the dogs of all sizes flanking her. This was clearly not her first time at this rodeo. (Note: though she was in a bag she was wearing a collar and leash for safety sake so don’t fret!).

Saint Francis Blessing of the Animals 2013 Saint John The Divine

long line (left), Sweet Peat (right)

 

After an hour wait during which I unsuccessfully scoured the line for more cats (but did turn up a miniature turtle, a frog, a few birds, and several kids holding cardboard boxes with air holes punched into them, I dared not ask what they contained), we were allowed entry.

Inside Saint John The Divine, 2013 Blessing of the Animals

Upon being handed the program for the service I quickly realized I’d made a grave error not having had breakfast. The Procession of Animals was some ten pages deep into the program (making it, by my estimation, an hour and a half down the road).

By the time communion came around I decided I had to partake, for sustenance if nothing else. It was either that or stealing snacks from small children. I’m sure God/Jesus/Higher Power understood my predicament. For the record I’m Christian so I was hedging my bets nothing too bad could come of it.

List of Animals at Blessing of The Animals, Saint John The Divine 2013

The promised list of animals. For the record, we didn’t see sign of the camel. Just saying.

 

As an aside (two actually):

1) I found it perplexing that the wine was white. How is white wine the blood of Christ exactly? Phil accused me of being too literal. I guess he had a point because how could a stale cracker possibly represent the body of Christ. But is it really that hard to make the effort to get red wine? Are they worried about staining their robes or something?

2) After all these years they’re still using communal goblets of wine. Um hello, germs anyone? I took precaution as best I could by dipping my stake cracker into the vat of bacteria instead of sipping from it and chose to believe the alcohol would kill any potentially harmful viruses.

Aside over.

While we waited for the official procession there were quite a lot of furry friends to “feast” our eyes upon.

2 cats saint john the divine feast of saint francis, 2013

Two very long and fluffy Himalayan cats

 

Blessing of the Animals Saint John The Divine, NY NY 2013

A patient pup enjoying the cool church floor

 

One very well dressed Guinea Pig

One very well dressed Guinea Pig

 

Finally the time for The Procession of Animals arrived. In my defense, it was hard to photograph in the cathedral. The lighting was poor, the animals went by surprisingly quickly, and the handlers were constantly obstructing our view.

Llama

Llama (I think)

 

I tried my darndest and this is the best of what I was able to get. I must admit it was a pretty amazing sight watching them come down (up?) the aisle.

Tortoise at Saint Francis Blessing of The Animals

Tortoise on a cart (I guess it would have taken too long for him to go at his own pace!)

 

Saint Francis Blessing of the Animals, Saint John The Divine 2013, pig

Pig (pot-bellied?)

The fabulous non-domesticated creatures were brought in from two amazing 501c3 organizations, The Dawn Animal Agency and Green Chimneys.

Miniature Horse

Miniature Horse

 

The Dawn Animal Agency is a sanctuary in upstate New York founded in 1973 that provides professional animals to the media for photo shoots etc (if the animal is appropriate for that type of work). Through their work they provide shelter and care for over 700 animals.

Saint John Baby Goat

Blurry photo of a baby goat but too cute not to share (and look at the grin on that very blurry guy – like he won the lottery!)

 

Sheep

Sheep

 

Green Chimneys, founded in 1947, is headquartered in Brewster, NY.ย  They are “recognized as a worldwide leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational activities for children with special needs.”

Stubborn Llama Saint John The Divine

Stubborn Llama (they couldn’t move him until someone came and pat him on the bum!)

 

Service Doggie

Service Doggie

 

While “bull” wasn’t listed in the program, not sure what else the big dude pictured below could be. A Yak is furrier I think. Any ideas? They had a rough time getting him down the stairs of the church after the service – you’d think they would have put a ramp at least!

bull wideshot

Bull?

 

Which pic is your fav?

The holy pooper scooper

The holy pooper scooper

 

Aside #2 (or are we officially on #3?):

There were two ladies behind us that could not stop talking about the fact that Edie Falco and her family are members of Saint John The Divine. They were convinced the woman pictured below was Edie Falco. I know it’s a blurry photo but rest assured, it was not Edie Falco. Just had to get it out there.

Not Edie Falco

Not Edie Falco

For the record. This was in fact Edie Falco from last year’s service.

Edie Falco at the Blessing of the Animals at Saint John The Divine in 2012 (photo source: paperblog.com)

Edie Falco at Saint John The Divine 2012 (photo source: paperblog.com)

Aside over.

So at this point (if you’re still reading this long post) you’re probably thinking, “This is great and all Tamar. Thanks for sharing your blurry photos but what about Philip? What’s up with him? Are you dating? He is handsome after all.”

Well, I hate to disappoint you but Phil and I are just good friends. In fact I was in his wedding. He’s no longer married but I had nothing to do with that. Honest.

Assisi Italy

Me in Assisi Italy

 

In fact about 4 years ago I had the pleasure of going to Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis, with Phil’s ex-wife (I somehow managed to keep both of them in the divorce!) where as you can see from the photos above, I partook in my three most favorite things, cheese, wine and cats (in no particular order). This was during my pre-Pescatarian days so forgive the charcuterie!

A few photos from after the ceremony.

Saint doggie with wreath

Saint grazing 2

Saint Johns Kitty blue box

BONUS EXTRA: If you want to get a better idea of what it was like being there last Sunday check out the video below.

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  • I think the humans are blessed by being there with the animals! I’ve always wanted to go. But white wine is a first! We do a tiny,low rent version in Westchester at the pet cemetery, no wine.

    • Tamar

      oh this was a full-on 2 hours service (before the blessings began!). don’t know how the animals were so patient (more so than i!).

  • Karen M Lisa

    Wonderful story & event.

    @Layla ~ St Stephens Church in Armonk also has a blessing.

    • Tamar

      aww thanks Karen! xo

  • I’ve been to a number of Blessings of the Animals, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bull at any of them! Or a llama, for that matter. Only in New York ๐Ÿ™‚ Great write up, and pics.

    • Tamar

      Awww, thanks Ingrid! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What a fantastic post. It must have been an amazing experience.

    • Tamar

      I’m so glad i went!

  • Rebecca

    What a WONDERFUL post Tamar! Funny, engaging, touching and joyous. I’ve only attended once but its memory lasts a lifetime. xoxo

    • Tamar

      Thanks Rebecca! I still feel ripped off as didn’t see a camel!

    • Tamar

      we will have to go next year, perhaps we will remember far enough in advance to get tickets!

  • What a fantastic experience! I hope I can go some day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tamar

      I like your name. TAMsterCAT ๐Ÿ™‚ My friends sometimes call me Tam ๐Ÿ™‚

  • What a cool event you got to experience. The mom says she wants to take us to get blessed, but then she always forgets. Though the one our church has is not as elaborate as that one.

    • Tamar

      I’ve been to a service in Atlanta that was all domestic animals – mostly dogs, that was fun and sweet too! No way my guys would have put up with it. I think it would have traumatized them! Some people take photos to get blessed. That’s probably easier with cats!

  • Thank you Tamar for sharing this. We saw one other post on the Blessing of the Animals (on a much smaller scale). Mom has never heard of it being done where we live, but she is definitely going to check it out for next year. Quite strange seeing all those large animals inside the church. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • Tamar

      I know it is strange right?! They even had someone with a decorated wheelbarrow and shovel following them to pick up the poop (in case they “went” along the way). I tried to get a good pic of that but failed sadly. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Elise Neely

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful service and procession. Loved seeing all the unusual animals and their owners. My12 cats wouldn’t behave as nicely as those cats did! Hugs,
    Tip, Twinnie, Golden Eyes, Juevon, Salpicon, Baby, Blackie, Target, Biscuit, Kiwi, Lucky, Ranger

    • Tamar

      True, not all cats (or animals for that matter) have the temperament for that scene. Def my cats don’t (can you imagine taking 12 cats there let alone 3! you’d need a who lot of handlers to come with you!)

  • jmuhj

    Yes, that is a llama. And yes, that IS a yak. SUPPORT THAT CAT! (the second Himmy pictured, dangling and distressed). I like the pic of you in Assissi, with the calico beauty! That’s very impressive about Edie Falco!

  • i had the pleasure of following all the pics through Instagram during last Sunday!!! I would like to attend once!! rather surreal! as
    for my favorite picture I guess I’ll have to say the one with the bull!! like you don’t see a bull coming in to a church everyday!! ;)))
    as for your friend Phill… good friends is good and he is pretty good looking too!!
    have a good rest of weekend and a nice week too Tamar!

  • Wonderful post. Sounds like it would be something to see. Love the guinea pig dressed up.
    Sue B

  • Dawn G.

    Thanks for the wonderful post Tamar as well as the mentioning your gentleman friend – hubba hubba. Why didn’t you bring Kip, Petie or Haddie?

    While I consider myself an atheist, I’ve always thought about bringing one of my furkids because I like that the service celebrates the earth and animals.

  • OMC! What an amazing experience! I think the humans who got to be there were even more blessed than the animals. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • It must have been quite an experience! Thank you for sharing especially now that we have moved. it was so nice seeing your blurry pictures =^.^=

    The bull seems to be a longhorn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Longhorn). We have plenty here, in the state named after me (that’s where we are now).

    Oh yes, the human misses New York…

    P.S.: well, if your escort is divorced… then he is maybe free? Just saying.