Blessing of the Animals – Feast Day of San Antonio

When: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at noon.
Where: Puerta del Cielo (Chapel of Hacienda San Angel) Miramar 363, El Cerro, Puerto Vallarta

This event is free and open to the public for household pets only. The animals will be blessed by Father Tony Clark. This event is sponsored by the SPCA de PV.

The mission of SPCA de PV is to help fund and promote sterilization, adoption and healthcare efforts for companion animals in the Puerto Vallarta area, with the goal of eliminating the euthanasia of healthy and adoptable animals. Monies raised will support these various goals in ways that are most feasible within the community.

St. Anthony Abbott, much venerated throughout Italy, is a hermit-saint who died in the deserts of Egypt on January 17th in the fourth century (not to be confused with St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan saint of the thirteenth century). Legend has it that during his period of prayer and fasting in the desert his only companions were the animals. Occasionally, the local people brought him bread. An integral part of St. Anthony’s feast day, even today, is the blessing of the animals followed by the receiving of the pane benedetto (blessed bread).

Like most feast days in Italy, the Feast of St. Anthony is intertwined with the ancient Roman world. The long period between the winter solstice and summer equinox was replete with festivities and rites of purification of the animals, the fields, the people – propitious offerings for fertility and regeneration of the cosmos. Today, under the veil of religious feast days, local customs are tied to those ancient rites of fecundity and regeneration. The blessing of domestic animals on the Feast Day of St. Anthony was considered auspicious, keeping away evil forces from the home and land, bringing fertility and fecundity.