Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot

St. Anthony the Abbot, Feast of

January 17
St. Anthony the Abbot was one of the earliest saints, and, if St. Athanasius's biography of him is correct, Anthony lived more than 100 years (251-356). Living as a hermit, Anthony nonetheless attracted disciples and ventured out occasionally to become involved in the doctrinal controversies of his day. Eventually he came to be regarded as a healer of animals as well as of people. The order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony, founded during the 12th century, endeavored to keep animals in good health by hanging bells around their necks. His feast day is celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America by bringing household pets and livestock into the churchyard, where the local priest blesses them with holy water. All the animals are carefully groomed and often decorated with ribbons and fresh flowers.
In some Latin American cities, the Blessing of the Animals takes place on a different day—often on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Hispanic people and others in the United States often celebrate the Blessing of the Animals on this day as well. In Los Angeles, the procession of animals to Our Lady of the Angels Church follows a cobblestone path that was laid by Mexican settlers more than 200 years ago.
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 10
BkFest-1937, pp. 225, 298
FestWestEur-1958, pp. 189, 226
OxYear-1999, p. 39
RelHolCal-2004, p. 89
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