St. Francis Day is one of the more unusual religious services that can be observed in the modern Christian tradition. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology; many Christians celebrate him and his feast day by having their pets blessed. You can find churches around the nation where congregations bring dogs, cats, hermit crabs, and other critters to church to have them blessed by their local priests.
One of the most stellar celebrations of St. Francis takes places at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Upper Manhattan. It is the largest Cathedral in the world by volume and it has a commitment to be an ecumenical place of worship for all people. Their service features a procession of animals down the 600 foot length of the cathedral. I spent October 4th watching and recording a Camel, Yak, Sheep, birds of prey, and others, formally move their way to the alter while hundreds of people sat for hours with their pets at their side.
The highlight of the service is not just seeing all of these animals in a giant church, it is hearing them all. Unfortunately, the formal procession with the exotic animals did not make much noise, but a cathedral full of dogs will not keep quiet for very long!
I planted myself in front of a particularly vocal husky that I thought was singing along with the music, but when it kept whimpering through communion, I realized it maybe wanted the eucharist or just to get outside. Unfortunately it is not the cleanest recording in the world because people were walking in front of me at all times, but it is certainly a fun document of the day.
Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5 setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/96 in a giant cathedral with lots of animals.
Thanks to Kelly Carmody for the photos.