Boston (AP) — It’s time for the Blessing of the Animals at Boston’s Old North Church.Famous Boston Church To Hold Blessing

The North End celebration scheduled for Sunday draws people of diverse faiths and backgrounds, and is considered especially important this year because pets have helped so many people cope through the pandemic.

All animals, photographs of pets that do not travel, as well as children’s stuffed animals are welcome. Each animal will receive a special blessing.

The Rev. Matthew Cadwell, Old North’s new Vicar-in-Charge, will lead the ceremony.

The Blessing of Animals is held in honor of St. Francis, who lived in Italy from 1181 to 1226 and is revered for his love of nature and animals. The St. Francis Chapel, built in 1918, is adjacent to the Old North Church. It was built as an Italian Mission, ministering to thousands of Protestant Italian immigrants living in the neighborhood.

Formally part of Christ Church in the City of Boston, the church is home to an active Episcopal congregation.