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article imageDay of St Anthony sees Spanish pets blessed for the year (Video)

By Anne Sewell     Jan 19, 2014 in World
Madrid - Every year on January 17, the day of Saint Anthony is celebrated in Spain. Known in Spanish as San Antón, he is the patron saint of animals in that country and on his day, the pets of the town receive his blessing.
On the day of the festival, owners and their beloved pets make a long and patient queue to the doors of the Church of Saint Anthony in Madrid, the capital of Spain. Among the pets can be seen cats, dogs, ferrets and a myriad of other and more exotic best friends.
As each owner and pet reaches the door, the 70-year-old priest, Manuel Perez, says solemnly, “Through Saint Anthony, receive this blessing,” as he sprinkles holy water on the pet. Most pets take this well, some start barking, but all get blessed for the coming year.
Que reported (in Spanish) that Perez was fascinated at the variety of rare animals that appeared before him, as people tend to be attracted to more exotic pets these days. He said he didn't even know what type some of these animals were.
Perez also said that these days, it is not only the animals requiring blessing, as many of their owners asked if they too could be blessed.
Panecillos de San Antón
Panecillos de San Antón
At another door in the church other queues form, as people wait to buy cookies, known as the "Panecillos de San Antón" which are traditionally kept with a coin in a cupboard to be eaten the following year on the saint’s day for good health and the blessing of the saint. Reportedly these buns are baked following a secret recipe that keeps them soft and fresh for a longer period.
Madrid Free (in Spanish) reports that the Saint Anthony or San Antón festival has been held in Madrid since the 19th century, and is celebrated in various other areas of Spain, including the northern city of Burgos and the Balearic Islands.
Other more controversial celebrations are held on the same day in San Bartolomé de Pinares near Ávila, where, as reported on Digital Journal, residents of the town ride their horses around the streets and jump over bonfires, raising concern from animal rights groups. In that case, the horses are said to be blessed by Saint Anthony after jumping the fires.
Saint Anthony or Antón Abad was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195 and animals are said to have been drawn to him throughout his life. He is often depicted in paintings addressing a menagerie of animals, who appear to hang on to his every word.
More about Spain, Madrid, saint anthony, san anton, patron saint of animals
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