Animal lovers have peculiar behaviors sometimes. Like, for example, eating 24000 sausages in one day.
On the third week-end of January the village of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi celebrates the feast of Saint Anthony Abbot . The Egyptian hermit is the patron of domestic animals, especially pigs, as well as of butchers. He has been invoked by farmers against a number of diseases including pestilence, herpes and , of course, various skin rashes.
Our local celebration originates from somewhere in the XIX century when the end of a pestilence decimating the village’s horses was attributed to a miracle of the Saint. From that time on, the people of Santa Maria degli Angeli commemorates the miracle with a procession, the distribution of the Piatto di Sant’Antonio (see below) and the blessing of domestic animals.
People comes to watch the procession and to bring their pets for the blessing. Pets are clad in red to honor the Saint.
Animal lovers find all sorts of implements to carry their pet s.
Some are impeccably dressed.
In addition, the Priors collect funds so that virtually everybody in the village can afford to go out and eat the “Piatto di Sant’ Antonio” a plate with pasta, meat and fruits that was originally distributed to the poor. The plate is a carnivore feast including by regulation 4 pork sausages , two slices of roast and 2 meatballs.
So, with approx. 6000 participants, the local butchers have had enough work. The pets have been dressed up and blessed. As in the best Italian tradition, everybody went home well fed and happy. Well, may be not the pigs, but at least thay have been put out of their misery.