Church of the Holy Trinity: Blessing of the Animals (stuff-animals too!)

Oct. 6, 2013 — Constructed in French Gothic style of the 13th century and adorned in rich terra-cotta sculptures, the church stood magnificently against a backdrop of grey, post-rained sky. Its soaring towers reached upward, as if pining for Heavenly Father. It was a beautiful Sunday.

My revelry, however, was short lasting and was interrupted by staccato barking — Woof, woof, woof. Dogs of all sizes — Rottweilers, Labradors, Boxers, Yorkies, Corgis, to name a few,  eagerly ran up the church steps. Before entering, owners grabbed bone-shaped dog treats from a basket. The atmosphere was cheerful and intimate, as people exchange greetings and compliments (for their dogs of course).

Every Autumn, the Church of the Holy Trinity[1], a neighborhood Episcopal parish in the Upper East Side, celebrates St. Francis’ day[2] with the Blessing of the Animals.

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(image credit: John Zongmin Chow)

Priest gave blessing to the animals.

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(image credit: John Zongmin Chow)

And just when you think you are ooh-ed and ahh-ed-out, you spot the priest blessing these little kids’ stuff animal.

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(image credit: John Zongmin Chow)

The story began when a Holy Trinity member, Judith Gwyn Brown, felt sick during one of her Sunday morning walks. She came into the church with her Puli sheep dog and was surprised to be welcomed by the then-Rector, Rev. Herbert G. Draesel Jr. Thus began the tradition for dog parishioners to bring their animals church.

In the spirit of St. Francis, who loved all creatures, blessing extended to all God’s creation — dogs, cats, birds and even toys (stuff animals, toy dinosaurs).

Are you ready for some for some serious puppy love? Be sure to check out John Zongmin Chow and Sarah Bourassa’s video: “Paws and Pray, A mini documentary.”

[1] E 88th Street, New York, all services: 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 6:00 p.m.

[2] St Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher, who was known for his love for all creatures.

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