Asparagus is so venerated in Worcester that it has been blessed in a special ceremony in the city’s cathedral. But the thanksgiving service celebrating the local crop has been criticised by other Anglicans who have called it “absurd”. The bizarre Sunday evensong service was defended by the cathedral’s Precentor, who said the vegetable was “a sign of the abundant provision and generosity of God”. Christian groups told the Daily Telegraph that the ceremony, which also involved a man in costume as an asparagus spear, was inappropriate. Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of pressure group Christian Concern, said: “This is an absurd pantomime-type scene that makes a mockery of Christian worship.”Influential Church of England blog Archbishop Cranmer, which is run by conservative theologian Adrian Hilton, said the service was “an infantile pantomime” and said it brought the Church of England into disrepute. The Sunday service was organised to mark the area’s annual asparagus festival.The event celebrates Vale of Evesham Asparagus, which has recently been granted EU protected food name status. This puts it on the same level as Champagne, Cognac and Jersey Royal Potatoes.A group from the festival travelled to the European Parliament on Tuesday to present members with a crop.Angela Tidmarsh, co-founder of the festival and tourism officer for Wychavon, said the cathedral’s management had been “really enthusiastic” about the idea.”We had the asparagus blessed by the vicar of Bretforton and then we took it to the cathedral, so it’s twice-blessed asparagus,” she said. She added that the ceremony had been a “special occasion for all concerned”. The month-long festival also includes “Asparabus” coach tours, an asparagus Family Fun Run and asparagus auctions. Known as “Gus”, the Asparagus Man who appeared at the service has been a part of the annual asparagus festival since 2008. He is one of a group of asparagus characters which take part in the festival, which also includes the Asparamancer, Eve the AsparaFairy, the Asparagus King and St George.Dr Brierley said: “Recently, Vale of Evesham asparagus has been awarded EU protected name status, and when the festival organisers asked if a round of asparagus could be blessed in a service at the cathedral on St George’s day, the first day of the farming season, the cathedral was very happy to include a thanksgiving for the vegetable at its evening service, as a sign of the abundant provision and generosity of God.”Offering to God the first-fruits of the harvest is deeply embedded in both biblical and English tradition, and indeed, offering the first-fruits of the wheat harvest has been recognised by the Church of England with formal liturgy since 2006.” The Fleece Inn in Bretforton, Worcestershire, hosts the start of the asparagus festivalCredit:Joe Giddens/PA The post added: “This is church, for God’s sake. Really, for His sake, can the Church of England not offer something clean and undefiled in the worship of God?”Rev Peter Ould, a priest from Canterbury, said: “I think the service itself is a good idea – there isn’t anything wrong in praying for a good growing season. “But someone dressed up as an asparagus and a bloke in a St George costume behind him holding a sword – that just looks a bit silly. “That takes it from being a good church service to something which looks like it’s more to do with promoting the asparagus growers.”On Twitter Norfolk-based vicar Rob Baker said: “I am seeing but still not quite believing. This is utterly extraordinary.”Another priest, Northumberland-based Victor Dickinson, posted: “Total prats”.The bizarre images from the service drew comparisons with Monty Python, and in particular with one scene in the classic comedy group’s Holy Grail film in which a knight must source a shrubbery. A bundle of the vegetable processed through the medieval cathedral accompanied by two men in costume, one as an asparagus spear and the other as St George. The crop was then blessed by the cathedral’s Precentor, the Reverend Canon Dr Michael Brierley. The area produces particularly good asparagus because of soil and weather conditionsCredit:Joe Giddens/PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.