Washington National Cathedral ‘Blessing of the Animals’ held in person for first time since beginning of pandemic

Dogs were greeted individually by several clergy that went out into the crowd to bless the animals. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Felicitas and Artemis, two 12-year-old champion dachshunds who are sisters were at the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Richard Smith has been coming to the Blessing of the Animals every year for about eight years and was there with his dogs Barney and Jenny. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The Washington National Cathedral held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The Washington National Cathedral held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The Washington National Cathedral held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The Washington National Cathedral held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The Washington National Cathedral held its annual “Blessing of the Animals” on Sunday. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

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Animals of all shapes and sizes gathered outside of the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday afternoon with their owners as the “Blessing of the Animals” returned in-person.

It was held virtually because of the pandemic last year.

“It’s one of the most fun and joyous and raucous services that we do,” said Dana Corsello, Canon Vicar of the congregation.

After a short service, several clergy went out into the crowd of pets and blessed them with holy water and prayers one at a time.

The annual blessing honors the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Corsello had her pets including a hedgehog there to receive their blessings.

“We love just seeing people smiling,” Corsello said. “These pets are people’s family and so to be able to celebrate them is really a gift.”

Richard Smith has been coming to the event every year for about eight years and was there with his dogs Barney and Jenny.

“It’s a wonderful event. It’s both sweet and hilarious,” Smith said.

Ann Radice and her wife Stephanie Stebich were a part of the crowd with their two 12-year-old champion dachshunds Felicitas and Artemis

“It’s just the best to see other people, to see other dogs, to see how happy people are and to feel the energy of being here,” Radice said.

Stebich said she’s glad that the event was held in person again.

“It feels very special and I think we can all use as many blessings as we can get.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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