By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY — While the wide boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square can seem like a zoo on general audience Wednesdays, there’s no mistake — it definitely becomes a petting zoo every January 17 — the feast of St. Anthony Abbot, patron saint of animals and farmers.
A little boy pets a baby donkey during an annual blessing of animals near St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Italian farmers and ranchers bring their horses, donkeys, cows, steer, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits and hens, and local residents come with their dogs, cats and bunnies for the annual blessing.
Bunnies and geese waiting for their special blessing. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Cardinal Comastri, papal vicar for Vatican City, blessed dozens of animals and their owners. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Italian farmers and pet owners have a special devotion to St. Anthony as their patron saint, which is why his feast day marks the celebration and not, like in other countries, the feast of that other famous patron saint of animals: St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4.
Bleats, barks and honks accompanied the “Our Father” as Cardinal Angelo Comastri blessed farm animals and pets gathered outside St. Peter’s Square.
Italian police mounted on horseback paraded up the wide boulevard leading to the square and two police dogs, with their agents, circled and sniffed pedestrians enthusiastically — unaware they were off-duty to get a blessing.
Italian military police on horseback celebrating the feast of St. Anthony Abbot. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Who’s photobombing whom? The goose or the cardinal? (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Elsa the Cow is moooving on up! (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Bella, a Maltese dog, got a special grooming for her special day. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Fresh mandarin oranges for the crowds. And under all those feathers is a horse. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
Another division of Italian police on horseback. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
And wherever there are horses, there’s a cleanup crew not far behind! (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)
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