Belfast's St Anne's Cathedral expecting huge flock for pet service
All creatures great and small have been invited to St Anne's Cathedral this weekend as it launches its first pets' service.
The Belfast church hopes animal lovers will flock to the special service featuring a special blessing for pets.
The Dean's Vicar, Rev Canon Mark Niblock, said that October 4 was St Francis of Assisi Day and "this service, new to St Anne's, is inspired by his love of animals".
He added: "This is also the time of year when churches celebrate the harvest, and we want to reflect on the important place animals play in our lives at this service of thanksgiving and blessing."
At 3.30pm this Sunday, the Donegall Street cathedral will host a short service featuring appropriate music on the organ and from the Cathedral Girls' Choir, along with readings.
Each individual pet will receive a blessing.
Mr Niblock said that in bygone days it was common practice for people to bring their animals to church with them, so this forward step on the part of St Anne's is also a reflection on the past. He added: "This is an opportunity for people from Belfast and beyond to bring their pets along to engage with St Anne's and have some fun."
The response on social media has been huge with people queuing up to ask if they can bring everything from a pet pig to a pair of stick insects.
"It seems to have generated a fair bit of interest and positive reaction. Hopefully there will be a good turnout," Canon Niblock said. "My fear is if someone has tarantulas or snakes to be blessed - I might pass them on to someone else!"
Staff are busy preparing the cathedral for the arrival of the animals this weekend.
"We need a few water bowls aro und the place and probably a few mops and buckets," Canon Niblock said.