Hoofin’ it to the Vatican: barnyard critters get special blessing

A donkey waits for a special blessing in front of St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz).

VATICAN CITY — Luckily, on this cold and rainy winter day, many of today’s special guests at the Vatican came with their own thick fur coat, except the three little pigs, who just hunkered down and snuggled up tight.

The critters, large and small, have been coming every year the past six years for the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals. The initiative, called “The farm under heaven,” is sponsored by an Italian association of farmers and ranchers.

This year the temporary tent-stalls housed cows, an ox, a mule, a donkey, a handful of horses and several goats and sheep. A bunny, geese and other fowl were scratching for fallen kibbles in the mounds of soft sawdust in their cages.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, celebrated Mass in the basilica for the association’s members and then later blessed the livestock outside the square. Image

Roman residents were invited to bring their pets for the blessing and get a free check-up from local veterinarians.

If you’d like to see more pictures from today’s blessing and equestrian parade up the main boulevard to the Vatican, please click here.

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