Vatican City, 17 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, 17 January, marks the liturgical commemoration of St. Anthony Abbot, patron and protector of animals. Just as in years past for this feastday, St. Peter's square will be filled with animals. The Italian Association of Livestock Farmers (AIA) has organized a series of events in honour of their patron saint.
The day began at 10:30 with Mass in the Vatican Basilica presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. At noon there was a procession of horses and riders along Via della Conciliazione in which the military band of the IVth Regiment of mounted police will take part. After the procession, around 12:30, the guests of honour―cows, goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, etc., and their owners―were blessed.
The members of AIA also invited all residents with pets to join in the celebration and, if they wished, to make use of the free veterinary visit offered to their four-legged friends.
Throughout the day, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, there was an exhibition of animals in the Pio XII Square directly in front of the Bernini colonnade around St. Peter's Square, an entire farm in the city, showcasing Italian livestock production.