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Crowds Flock To NYC Church For Annual Blessing Of The Animals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- One of the city's biggest churches opened its doors to creatures of all shapes and sizes on Sunday.

The annual Blessing of the Animals is a day which draws people from far and wide, including a famous actress, CBS 2's Cindy Hsu reported.

"Lots of churches around the world are doing what we do, but we do it in a really big way," said Patty Welch, the Chaplain of Cathedral School.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine looked more like a zoo than a church for the event, which is meant to honor Saint Francis, who lived in the 13th Century.

"He was very much aware of the beauty of God's creation and really was the first one to bring that message to the people that God could be seen -- that beautiful light of God, that beautiful love of God -- could be seen in all things, not just the human person but the four-legged and two-legged and the winged and the finned," Welch said.

Actress Edie Falco said she tries to go every year with her kids.

"It's a very non-New York City, New York City experience," Falco said. "We get to see camels and horses and sheep and ducks, and all kinds of crazy animals."

This year, Falco carried a goat since she left her own dog at home. Why? Falco's son, Anderson, said the pooch gets sick in the car.

Crowds flocked to Amsterdam Avenue to see the animals; everything from owls to alpacas, miniature horses and even a rat.

Church leaders said there's a lesson to learn from this urban jungle.

"I hope also that they come away with a real deep appreciation of all the beauty of this creation," Welch said.

And if you're wondering where all the exotic animals came from, most belong to a company that rents them for movies and TV shows, Hsu reported.

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