Sant’Antonio Abate, protettore degli Animali


“Anthony white beard, if it does not snow close enough.”

The winter is slow in coming, but in the day on Saturday 17, dedicated to St. Anthony Abbot, after the speech, we’ll have finally a probable start of the long-awaited winter season.

Since centuries, in many countries of Italy people celebratse in this day saint Antony, patron saint of the animals. All people gather into the streets with their animals and, after the Holy Mass, the animals receive the blessing in a festive and mystical atmosphere, around large bonfires prepared in honor of the saint.

Sant’Antonio Abate is the patron of animals, domestic ones and of stable, depicted in iconography next to his pig and with a fire near to his Tau shaped walking stick.

The reason for this patronage was born long after his death: his remains were brought to Motte-Saint-Didier in France in the eleventh century, where a church was built in his honor. They came here crowds of sick and to house them all it was built a hospital andestablished a Confraternity of Religious, the ancient Order of the hospital ‘Antoniani’. The Pope granted them the privilege to raise pigs to extract fat and ointments to heal the sick by ergotism (the shingles), so the pigs could move freely between the courtyardsand streets with their bell and nobody touched them.

Popular tradition has created around St. Antonio a legend that justifies even more clearly its proximity to animals, especially pigs, and his frequent representation near a fire. It is said that “…many centuries ago St. Anthony lived as a hermit in the desert of the Thebaidtogether with a pig that followed him everywhere: there, every day was winning with various tricks, the temptations of the devil. Men had no fire on Earth and the men were so cold. After a long discussion the Governors of the Earth sent a delegation in order to imploreAnthony to procure fire. The old saint, moved to pity, went with his faithful pig to Hell, where the flames were burning day and night. When the devils saw that it was their worst enemy prevented him from entering. But the pig had intruded quickly over the door and ran around doing damage everywhere. After trying unsuccessfully to capture it, the devils went to St. Anthony begging him to go down to hell to take it back and the hermit, who could not wait, parts immediately with his inseparable stick.

on the way back in the company of the piglet he did catch fire to the stick so that, fell to Earth, was able to burn on a big pile of wood,thus providing the first and sighed fire to humanity. “

In the Province of Lucca the festival is celebrated in different locations. All are invited to participate, preferably with ones own pet.

Sunday 18, to Barga, San Pietro in Campo

Sunday 18, to Pietrasanta, Pieve San Giovanni e Santa Felicita

Sunday 18, in the historical center of Lucca in piazzale Arrigoni with the participation of the Bishop of Lucca