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The Blessing of the Animals

Since 1930 they've been Blessing the Animals on Olvera Street in Los Angeles

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: March, 2008
We bless these animals for all they have done in supplying our food, in carrying our burdens, providing us with clothing... since the world began

The Blessing of the Animals, annually at Olvera Street, the oldest street in Los Angeles, has been a great day out for animals, since 1930. The festival of the Blessing of the Animals, dates back the the 3rd or 4th Century, when the church would open its doors and welcome animals on the annual holy day of San Antonio de Abad. I know what you're thinking... Aren't the animals under the patronage of Mickey Rourke, erm I mean, St. Francis of Assisi? What's this San Antonio de Abad got to do with it. That will most likely be the subject of a new Dan Brown, which will of course be the gospel truth of the matter and so therefore should not be commented upon any further in any mere speculative way here.

The animals traditionally, are blessed for their sterling work as suppliers of food, carrying burdens, providing clothing and companionship and their services to people since time began. Of course these days in Los Angeles, few of the animals are being blessed for their ability to provide food or for their labor as traditional beasts of burden. These days, many of the animals in LA are either in the industry, or they provide psychological support to the people they live with.

Anyway, a scorching hot Holy Saturday on Olvera Street drew big crowds of animals and people. I was surprised at how passive the numerous dogs were, waiting in line to join the procession Cardinal Roger Mahoney liberally doused holy water as it passed beneath his podium.  I was reminded of a West Hollywood city council ordinance a few years ago, banning the use of the term Pet Owner - the people animals lived with were rebadged as Animal guardians. I am not sure where the Blessing of the Animals crowd is with that. But it did seem that the animals were having the best of it on Saturday.

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