A monsignor at the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral has given a statue of his dog a new home in the Nativity scene, alongside Jesus.
Msgr. Robert Ritchie has placed the 25-inch statue beside the figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the sanctuary’s Christmas crèche, the New York Daily News reports.
Speaking about how a statue, which has a striking resemblance to his yellow lab puppy, Lexington, ended up in a nativity scene, the clergyman had an interesting explanation.
“Didn’t the shepherds have dogs to help herd the sheep?” the clergyman said.
Almost 15 years ago, the priest was devastated over the death of his previous dog and was adamant that he didn’t want to replace his pet, before a friend took him to a pet shop on Lexington Ave.
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“I had just lost a dog who had been with me for 10 years and I swore I wouldn’t get another,” he recalled. “But my best friend dragged me to the store and said, ‘We’re getting you another.’"
“He licked my hand, and I was smitten,” the monsignor said. “He’s named after the street.”
In charge of the nativity scene in New York City’s famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Msgr. Ritchie felt something was missing from the scene for years.
“I was in two parishes before I came here where they had dogs in their crèches,” he said. “And when I was in Rome last January I was in two churches where they had dogs. So I said, ‘St. Patrick’s had to have a dog.’ ”
Ritchie then contacted the Demetz Art Studio in Ortisei, Italy, where the other figures had been carved out of wood. They happened to have a dog statue already carved, so it’s not an identical replica of Lexington.
“It was a golden retriever,” Ritchie said. “Lexington is a yellow Lab. But the man from the studio happened to be coming to New York and saw Lexington and liked his coloring.”
The new addition to the manger got mixed reviewers from Churchgoers.
“I was a little surprised to see a dog in there,” Emily Moore (28) of Manhattan told the Daily News. “I’ve never heard of a dog being in a Nativity scene before. Doesn’t really make sense.”
Ethan Furman (32), also of Manhattan, disagreed. “I think it makes sense,” she argued. “Jesus was a kind-hearted person, so why wouldn’t he have grown up with a golden retriever? It fits. It’s not like he would have had a Rottweiler.”