Cats and dogs go to church for service of blessing

Minister Richard Frazer and Guiness lead the post ceremony parade.
Minister Richard Frazer and Guiness lead the post ceremony parade.
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all creatures great and small were welcome at Greyfriars Kirk when the church held its annual pet blessing service.

More than 30 dogs, two ponies and several cats were in the congregation along with their owners and took part in a parade around the churchyard afterwards.

Shaun & Niola Symonds with Misty & Storr.

Shaun & Niola Symonds with Misty & Storr.

The half-hour service, led by Greyfriars minister the Rev Dr Richard Frazer and trainee minister Dr Liam Fraser, included the hymns “All Creatures of our God and King” and “All things bright and beautiful” as well as the passage from Genesis about the creation of the animals.

The pet services began about nine years ago, but this was only the fourth since they became an annual event.

Dr Frazer said: “It’s a bit of fun, but there is a serious side too. You can’t underestimate how important a pet can be for people who are on their own or going through difficult times. Pets, especially dogs, can be a real source of companionship for people.

“One of the dogs at the service was a ‘therapet’ - it goes into old people’s homes where people are living with dementia, into psychiatric hospitals where people are struggling with mental illness and even into colleges where people are studying for exams and finding it stressful.

Pony Major Mark Wilkinson prepares Lance Corp Cruachan the 4th for the ceremony

Pony Major Mark Wilkinson prepares Lance Corp Cruachan the 4th for the ceremony

“The presence of an animal can just calm people when they are anxious.”

Greyfriars Kirk stands on the site of a pre-Reformation Franciscan order of Grey Friars who followed St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

And Scotland’s most famous dog, Greyfriars Bobby, is buried in the graveyard.

The service is organised in co-operation with the Skye Terrier Club in recognition of the link with the dog which kept vigil at his master’s grave.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com