Tradition is marked in Vatican and across Italy.
Italian farmers celebrate the feast day of St Anthony Abbot or Antonio Abate, the patron saint and protector of animals, on Tuesday 17 January 2023.
The event is marked in Rome with an open-air stable set up by the Italian Association of Livestock Farmers (AIA) at Piazza Pio XII in front of St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
This traditional assembly of animals, which skipped the past two editions due to the covid pandemic, includes horses, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits and hens.
The event is open to all and is scheduled to take place from 09.00 until about 14.00, according to a statement on the AIA website.
The Archpriest of St Peter’s, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, will celebrate a Mass for the farmers and their families in the basilica at 11.00.
This will be followed by a procession led by police on horseback, along Via della Conciliazione, after which Cardinal Gambetti imparts a blessing on all animals present.
St Anthony Abbot
In addition to animals and farmers, St Anthony Abbot is the patron saint of basket weavers and grave diggers, and is believed to protect against skin diseases, especially shingles.
The saint, who died in Egypt in 356, has always enjoyed a widespread following among Italy’s agricultural communities.
According to an ancient legend from the Veneto region in northern Italy, on the night of 17 January animals acquired the ability to speak.
On this night each year, it is said that people were kept away from stables because to hear the animals talk was considered a bad omen.
For full details of the event see AIA website.
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Blessing of the Animals ceremony in Rome
Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
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