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.