Vatican City, Jan 17, 2024 / 14:00 pm (CNA).
St. Peter’s Square was filled with horses, cows, donkeys, dogs, sheep, chickens, and rabbits on Wednesday for the feast of St. Anthony Abbot.
Farmers and pet owners alike brought out their beloved animals to the Vatican for a special blessing on Jan. 17.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti blesses animals in St. Peter’s Square for the feast of St. Anthony of the Desert, co-patron of animals, on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
While many American Catholics associate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi with a blessing of animals, in Italy farmers traditionally celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Abbot, the patron saint of domestic animals. St. Anthony is also known as St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony of Egypt, and St. Anthony the Great, among other names.
St. Anthony Abbot was a fourth-century hermit known for his asceticism and as a father of monasticism. His holy life in the Egyptian desert was recorded by St. Athanasius in “The Life of St. Antony.”
Donkeys were among the animals blessed in St. Peter’s Square on the feast of St. Anthony of the Desert on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Despite the cold and rainy weather, many people showed up to celebrate again with their furry friends.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, individually greeted the animals after offering the blessing.
The cardinal kicked off the day’s celebration with a Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica with members of the Italian Breeder’s Association.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica ahead of the blessing of animals in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
In his homily, Gambetti reflected on how farming is “a job in contact with the earth, with creation.”
Acknowledging that farmers have faced difficulties in recent years, the cardinal encouraged them to face “the challenges that globalization poses” with “the strength of compassionate humanity in the name of Jesus Christ.”
An animal pen at the blessing of animals in St. Peter’s Square, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA