Pet Blessing In Spain Catholics are celebrating the Feast of San Anton this week. He's known as the patron saint of animals, and in Spain the fiesta ends with people bringing their pets to be blessed in church.

Pet Blessing In Spain

Pet Blessing In Spain

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Catholics are celebrating the Feast of San Anton this week. He's known as the patron saint of animals, and in Spain the fiesta ends with people bringing their pets to be blessed in church.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This week is the Feast of San Anton. He's the patron saint of domestic animals. And in Spain, the festivities culminate in a Catholic Mass where people bring their pets to church - dogs, cats, even lizards in the church pews. NPR's Lauren Frayer managed to find herself a seat among that motley crew.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: The streets of downtown Madrid are closed to traffic, and everyone is streaming down with their pets in their arms. There are dogs in sweaters, there's a cat here in a baby sling, and there's a man trailing two sheep on a leash - a ferret, a parakeet. They're all in line waiting to be blessed by the priests, anointed with holy water, at the Church of San Anton.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

FRAYER: Federico Espanolo was pushing a stroller filled with his babies.

FEDERICO ESPANOLO: I'm here with my son and my four dogs and my wife.

FRAYER: So this is a double stroller, and you have how many living beings in there (laughter)?

ESPANOLO: Four of them - four of them are in the stroller and then my son in this one.

FRAYER: Four dogs and one human.

ESPANOLO: Yeah (laughter).

FRAYER: And are they all being blessed today?

ESPANOLO: Yes, they're being blessed all together, yeah. And we have been blessed having all of them in our family.

FRAYER: This festival celebrates San Anton, or Saint Anthony the Abbott, a Christian monk born in the third century who befriended animals in the Egyptian desert. Here, it's a week of concerts, animal rights workshops and vegan restaurant deals, attracting both hipsters and little old ladies with lap dogs.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOGS BARKING)

FRAYER: Julian Munoz is carrying a bird cage with a green-and-yellow parakeet inside.

JULIAN MUNOZ: This is Horacio. Horacio is a bird. This Christmas, he was sick. We didn't know what to do. We started praying to San Anton. He had a photo of San Anton in the cage. Finally, he's better now. He has singing again.

FRAYER: So does Julian really believe that San Anton interceded and healed his pet parakeet, Horacio?

MUNOZ: Yes. Also the vet has done her work in this case, but, yes, I think that San Anton has made a little miracle with Horacio, and now he's happy again.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FRAYER: For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer at the Church of San Anton in downtown Madrid.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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