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Hereford: Not only the donkey

04 January 2013

DONKEYS are becoming increasingly familiar in churches at Christmas and Easter, but the nativity service in Hereford Cathedral included live sheep, and even a chicken. More than 600 children from five city-centre schools packed the cathedral as they watched Freya Russell, aged 11 (right), as Mary, ride in on Gentle, the donkey, led by Kyle Day, 10 (left), also from St Paul's School.

Children from all five schools took the parts of other characters in the nativity story, and formed a tableau on the plinth of the nave altar as the Christmas story unfolded. The nativity pageant had been devised and created by Canon Andrew Bowden, now retired and an Hon. Canon of Gloucester Cathedral, and his wife, Susan, who work with a dedicated team of helpers to take the animals to churches and cathedrals throughout the year.

They portray different stories from the Bible, and donkeys, in particular, feature in stories from both the Old and New Testaments. This nativity service, however, was the first time that their animals had appeared in Hereford Cathedral.

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