Sant'Antonio's Dish | The Blessing of the Animals in Umbria | Italia Mia |

“Che Sant’Antonio li benedica” (May St. Anthony bless them), an elderly signore murmured as he caressed the collies. Patron saint of animals – and also of the village of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi – the 4th century Egyptian hermit saint is feted on January 17th throughout Italy with the blessing of the animals. Years ago when many more people farmed, I remember the array of geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, sheep, piglets, oxen, mules, and donkeys awaiting the blessing. The fauna variety is more limited nowadays. You’ll see dogs of every breed and size, many collared with the traditional red Sant’Antonio kerchiefs, cats, rabbits, a guinea pig, horses, and maybe a pair of the hefty white Chianina oxen. [...]