MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) — The annual celebration of the Feast of St. Francis came to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Sunday, bringing with it the Blessing of the Animals.

Hundreds of people celebrated the upcoming Feast of St. Francis during the service, many of them joined by their furry friends.

“It’s just a delightful thing,” said Sabre Gilmartin, of Manhattan, who brought her dog, Lily, to the service. “And it’s nice that people appreciate animals, because they do so much for us.”

Added Susan Dominguez, who also brought her pooch, “It’s like with your child when you get them baptized, it’s just a blessing. It’s a good feeling.”

The service honoring St. Francis of Assisi is held every year on the Sunday nearest to his feast, paying homage to St Francis’ love of animals.

“St. Francis loved all creation, but he treated animals almost like people,” said Patrick Malloy, acting dean of the cathedral. “He recognized the sacredness of the animals … so we bring our animals together and we pray for them. We bless them.”

In years past, the service also featured a procession of animals, including camels and horses, but this year, the cathedral canceled it for animal rights reasons.

Still, a key part of the tradition continued. After the service, dozens of owners waited to have their pets blessed individually by the clergy.

Jules Markell owns a gecko. He said, “I wanted to have them blessed so they could have a happy life and they could live.”

His friend, Charlie, who also owns a gecko and two snakes, said, “I want them to live longer.”

These owners say their animals are like family, and having them blessed means the world to them.