Give a Dog a Bone
St. Anthony the Abbot was a hermit and early monk, who lived in seclusion in Egypt’s desert with animals as his only companions. St. Anthony the Abbot’s believed strongly in man’s responsibility to protect otherwise defenseless domesticated animals.
St. Anthony also changed ancient man’s perception of the pig as a dirty animal with ties to the devil, into edible livestock, much to the future happiness of Oscar Meyer. Consequently, in art St. Anthony the Abbot is commonly seen between a dog and a pig.
Here in Mexico the indigenous strongly believed in the equilibrium between man and the natural world. Therefore, they readily accepted St. Anthony the Abbot’s thoughts on man’s responsibilities to domestic animals.
Pets and farm animals of every shape and kind, from cats, dogs, birds and turtles, to hens, rabbits, ducks and even burros are brought to the churches to be blessed by the priest. This moving ceremony is believed to keep evil spirits away from the home and land. The concept is tied to the pre-Hispanic customs of celebrating animal fertility and regeneration of the fields between the winter solstice and summer equinox.