Pet owners from all over the Los Angeles area flocked to DTLA’s Pueblo Historical Monument on Olvera Street this past Saturday for the 82nd annual Blessing of the Animals. Along with a individual blessings for each animal from Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, the event also included free pony rides, musical entertainment, and a petting zoo for the humans in the crowd. Many non-profit animal organizations were present to provide information and promote animal charities.
The tradition of blessing animals dates back to fourth-century Spain. Celebrated near Easter, the feast of Saint Anton would bring Spaniards to their local churches in droves to receive blessings for their livestock, which were said to ensure fertility and good health for the next year. Then, as now, a cow covered with a blanket of flowers led the procession, after which the priest blessed each animal. While most of today’s pet owners may not be hoping to increase their dog or cat’s fertility, the ceremony of the Blessing of the Animals celebrates Angelenos’ deep connection to and love for their furry friends.