Last week, I did something I’ve never done before: I woke up on a Sunday, put on some nice clothes, and went to church.
What prompted the break in my routine was the 31st Annual Feast of Saint Francis and Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City—which Fusion’s Clàudia Prat filmed using a 360-degree camera. For the uninitiated, the two-hour event bills itself as “a celebration of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and his advocacy for harmony between human beings and the natural world.”
Before the ceremony began, I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of unusual beasts, most of whom live at Dawn Animal Agency in upstate New York. There was Susie, the pig, who loves being held but hates the in-between step of being picked up. Is her quandary Sisyphean? Not at all. Moving on, there was also a miniature white horse, who reminded me of Li’l Sebastian, as well as a less than miniature white horse, who also reminded me of Li’l Sebastian—only bigger. Have you ever met the “handsomest donkey on Earth”? I have. His name’s Ted, and he’s “done more Radio City shows than most of the Rockettes.” : )
As the cathedral doors swung open, a procession of animals made their way down the aisle, as a sea of humans and dogs watched peacefully from the pews. Churchgoers then exited the cathedral to bring their pets to an adjacent garden space so that Mugsy the Pekalier and Jagger the Siberian Husky could receive a blessing of their own amid half a dozen dancers, whose costumes I could best describe as “fursuits by way of Beatrix Potter.”
In short: I picked an odd day to get reacquainted with the faith of my lapsed Catholic ancestors. The experience was oddly comforting, though; I might not be #blessed like Azori the camel, but at least I’ve never pooped on the floor of Saint John the Divine.