Father Juan Villar took charge of the annual blessing of pets in central Madrid this morning, at the parish church of Saint Anthony in Hortaleza street. Madrid, Spain. 17/01/2010.
Pet owners, or rather lovers, started arriving at the church well before ten in the morning and continued into the afternoon. Old or new pets had to queue in a rather damp morning with their guardians, probably wondering what was so important this morning.
Some of the more adorable pets who really captured people’s attention were of course the family of Vietnamese pigs. This year the family had a new addition, Mafalda, a ten month old female piglet. Of course, such words as sow are not used here.
This family of Vietnamese pigs are, however, used to being the centre of attention because they come from the Xanan school for Pigs, where they train to be with people. They work as star attraction at parties, therapy sessions and advertising.
Whist I was taking photos of Mafalda in her pushchair, the adult pig kindly licked off the remains of the sweets (candy) I had left on my assignment trousers from the Cavalcade earlier this month.
Children and animals always attract attention, but on this occasion everyone was attracting attention.
Part of the tradition is to buy the bread of Saint Anthony, which were on sale at side door of the church. This bread is special because it is supposed to stay fresh throughout the year. Many devotees of Saint Anthony will not hesitate to confirm this.