CNA has a fun article on a special day at the Vatican where animals take center stage.
The ceremony takes place every year on the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot and was led this year by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The tradition of blessing animals is linked to the fact that St. Anthony the Abbot was a saint that had a special relationship with nature, with creation and therefore also with animals,” said Cardinal Comastri at the Jan. 17 ceremony.
He explained that the tradition came about “spontaneously in the agricultural world,” although it is impossible to say when.
“It was born within the context of the Christian faith that always called the world not ‘nature’ but ‘creation,’ because it is the work of God, it is a gift from God. Creation is made by God, so we must respect it.”
Today’s event began with farmers going to Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by the blessing of their animals in a makeshift livestock showgrounds, just outside of St. Peter’s Square. Cows, horses, sheep, goats, geese and hens were all present, as well as more domesticated beasts, such as cats and dogs, brought along by their Roman pet owners.