Every January 17, the doors of the churches are filled with people who bring their pets to be blessed. The reason is none other than to celebrate St. Anton’s Day, patron saint of animals. Also known as Saint Anthony Abbot, he was born in Egypt around the year 251. After losing his parents when he was 20 years old, he decided to retire to the desert, where he lived in solitude. Or almost, since it is said that he was the author of several miracles related to animals, which is why he became a legend after his death… at the age of 105!
When is San Antón?
What day is San Antón? January 17 is the day of the patron saint of animals. This date motivates pets to be taken to the nearest church, where they are blessed so that they will be healthy for the rest of the year. This is a very important day for all animal lovers, whether they are believers or not.
The pattern of animals
There are many popular stories that attest to the love that St. Anton felt for animals. One of the best known is that of some blind wild boars to whom the saint restored their sight. He even stayed by their side for a longer period of time in order to protect them from other wild animals. All in all, St. Anton believed in living in harmony with nature and found wisdom while observing animals. It was in this way that he expressed his love for God and creation.
Why are animals blessed on St. Anton’s Day?
Since the IX century, tradition dictates that on January 17, animals are blessed, asking for their protection. As time went by, this celebration spread throughout the European continent until it reached Latin America. One of the best known traditions takes place in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where thousands of people gather every year to have the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vicar bless the animals.
A celebration of love for animals
The reason for celebrating St. Anton’s Day goes beyond faith, since his teachings are also palpable in the daily life we share with animals. Therefore, it is not surprising that those who consider themselves non-denominational take January 17 as a reference date to celebrate all that animals bring us and how much we love them.
The patron saint of animals has a very traditional celebration
Although the day of San Anton is celebrated throughout the country, in Madrid this date has a special character since the holiday lasts for several days. First, the parish of San Antón sells its traditional rolls and Father Ángel blesses all the animals. And, on the other hand, the well-known “laps of San Antón” take place, a route through different streets that the attendants to this celebration make together with their pets.
But if there is a good way to celebrate San Anton is to take advantage of the occasion to be aware and also to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of adopting animals, as well as their responsible ownership, during this and the rest of the year.