Bless them!

Javea: On their way to be blessed last year

Today Thursday, January 17, feast of St Anthony, the Spanish bless their animals.

Everything from teams of workhorses, chickens, and goats are rounded up and blessed, as well as household pets and a canary or two.

Work and school commitments mean that the blessings are often held at the weekend before or after Saint Anthony’s day.  The fiesta is now so popular that some towns spread the festivities, including the traditional “porrat” or fair, over both weekends. 

All hold processions and many organise a blessing on the day itself as well as the weekend.

Why is a hermit born in Memphis in 251 venerated as a patron of animals?  Possibly because many of St Anthony’s reputed miracles involved them, including a litter of blind boar whose sight he restored.  Their grateful mother allegedly never left his side, protecting him from other animals during his periods of retreat and fasting in the desert.

Over time, the boar has evolved into a pig usually present in portrayals of the saint.

But fact, fiction fable or fable – this is still the day when animals count their blessings. 

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