Canterbury Cathedral has a long and varied history dating back more than 1,400 years, but during lockdown it has been cats and a rooster that have stepped into the spotlight.
The coronavirus pandemic meant that the building was closed to worshippers and services moved online.
But as anyone who has tried to keep their pet occupied during a work Zoom meeting knows, sometimes furry friends find a way to contribute to proceedings.
From a feline disappearing beneath the Dean’s robes while he delivered a sermon to a rooster with perfect timing, a range of animals have got in on the act.
The cathedral, which faces a huge loss of revenue because of Covid-19, said it has been lovely to see the huge warmth that their appearances generate.
It began with cathedral cat – and now social media star – Leo, who went viral after being caught on camera wandering into view before disappearing beneath the Dean of Canterbury’s robes.
Somehow keeping a straight face, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis managed to avoid a feline fiasco and continued with his sermon.
Not to be outdone, fellow feline Tiger leapt up to Dr Willis as he led a service and started stealing some of his milk, lapping it up with a paw.
“We’ve acquired a friend this morning,” Dr Willis said as Tiger helped himself to the refreshments.
And on Thursday, rooster Russell Crow interrupted Dr Willis again.
In a moment of sublime serendipity, Dr Willis read out: “And immediately while he was still speaking the cock crowed…”
At that very moment, Russell did indeed crow, interrupting the clergyman loudly and with perfect comic timing.
A cathedral spokesperson said: “We started doing the twice-daily online services back in March, when the lockdown started in the UK, as a way of keeping the cathedral’s daily offices alive and to reach out and connect with people in their homes in order to encourage and help them.
“From day one, even before any ‘friends’ joined in, these video services were attracting thousands and we have been staggered and humbled by the huge appeal of our simple offerings and the huge diversity of people, of all faith and none, watching daily.
“Pretty early on, the cats and chickens especially showed a fascination for the filming and wanted to get in on things.
“The animals and birds do what they want as the Dean takes the service, and it’s been lovely to see the huge warmth that their appearances generate. ”
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