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The 'story behind the sandwich': Blessing of the Heifers at St Paul's Cathedral

Prayers for the agricultural community by Revd Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor

Prayers for the agricultural community and the blessing of two shorthorn heifers formed the first Blessing of the Beef ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday 3 December 2015.

Tourists and passers-by flocked - or herded together- to watch the Precentor speak to farming charity the Addington Fund and the Beef Shorthorn Society.

A mounted detachment of Honourable Artillery Company Light Cavalry formed an escort by the Cathedral steps and on with City of London police horses to a carol service at St Bride's Church after the ceremony.

Canon Michael asked people to think about 'the great human and animal story that lies behind their lunchtime sandwiches, and the cost to the farming community who produce the food that sustains us.'

Blessing the two heifers, he prayed: 'We rejoice in the unity that is at the heart of your creation; look upon the Addington Fund and the whole agricultural community, and from injustice and economic hardship, good Lord, deliver us ... we stand before you in prayer for all who work on the land ...

'We bless these beasts as symbols of the creativity and ingenuity of God and of God's people.'   

He also quoted a 4th century prayer by St Basil: '...We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realise that they [the animals] live not for us alone but for themselves and for thee, and that they love the sweetness of life.'