saint of animals

Saint Anthony of Abbot

Animal Day is celebrated on January 17 to remember how important they are to us. He saint of animals what is known as San Antonio de Abad. On this festivity parades are held in some towns and the streets are flooded with dogs. However, many people do not know well what is the origin of the animal saint and what is its history.

Therefore, in this article we are going to tell you about the origin and history of the saint of animals.

Who is the animal saint?

saint anthony abbot

Saint Anthony of Abbot was an Egyptian hermit who lived in the XNUMXrd century AD. Coming from a wealthy Christian family, he soon managed the family's assets and estates and raised his younger sister on his own. But Antonio chose to donate everything he had to the poor and needy, entrusting his sister to a religious group, embarking on the desert road and choosing the life of a hermit. That is why it is also called San Antonio del Desierto or San Antonio the Anchorite. In fact, the hermits of the time, also known as hermits, lived solitary lives, devoting every moment of their lives to prayer and meditation.

Antonio was no exception, doing work that was absolutely necessary to support himself and be able to give alms, spending the rest of the time only in prayer. The famous temptation of Saint Anthony dates back to this period: the saint is said to be constantly haunted by visions that alternately flatter and threaten him, as well as demons seeking to rip his soul out.

Soon others gathered around him, some wanting to be healed by him, others wanting to follow his example. This is how various communities of hermits were formed, living in desert caves under the guidance of a spiritual father, with San Antonio as a reference. These were the first forms of monasticism.

Subsequently, Antony supported his friend and Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, against Arianism. At the age of 105, San Antonio remained a hermit in the desert, cultivating small gardens and praying until the end of his life.

Feast of the saint of animals

animal saint statue

San Antonio is remembered as the saint of domestic animals. Every year, on January 17, on the occasion of his festival, domestic animals are blessed and animals are placed in the fields. The tradition was born in the Middle Ages, when the Antonian monks of San Antonio raised pigs that farmers gave them as gifts, used them to feed the poor and used their fat and herbs to make ointments. San Antonio thus became patron saint first of pigs and after all cattle and stable animals.

Legend has it that on the night of January 17, animals acquired the ability to speak. So, in ancient times, the country people kept away from the stables on that night as it was not a good sign to hear the animals talk.

Why is San Antonio de Abad represented by fire and pigs?

Thus, pigs appear several times in the portraits of San Antonio de Abad, often with a pig at his feet, or with a little pig in his arms. In addition to the aforementioned traditions associated with the Antonines, this connection between Saint Anthony and pigs is also derived from some legends.

A sow places a sick piglet at the feet of San Antonio de Abad during a sea voyage. The saint healed him with the sign of the cross, and from then on the little pig became his inseparable companion.

According to another legend, the divine protector of the animal descended into hell to face Satan and save some souls. To distract the other demons, he sent his little pigs with bells around their necks to wreak havoc, stealing Hellfire and giving it to the humans. The legend links San Antonio with pre-Christian traditions, linking him to mythological figures such as Prometheus or the Place, the Celtic deity that symbolized the new life and where wild boars and pigs were consecrated.

Fire is another symbol that usually represents a saint, also known, not by chance, as San Antonio Fuego. Saint Anthony has also been associated with the concept of renewal for centuries and has been revered in the fields for his connection to the passing of the seasons, the time of harvest and planting. In some regions, even today, bonfires are lit on the night of January 17 to burn the sins of the past months and welcome the new year with positive energy. For centuries, the fire symbolism associated with Saint Anthony has been associated with his ability to heal from Saint Anthony's fire, which once indicated that Antonine monks cured many skin ailments with the above methods.

The bell, which often represents a saint, is also a distinctive sign of the Antonines.

Temptations of Saint Anthony

saint of animals

We have already mentioned that Saint Anthony was terribly tempted by the devil when he was a hermit in the desert. Along the centuries, this has inspired many famous artists and they have been the subject of magnificent and beautiful paintings and murals. To cite a few, we have in mind the cycle of frescoes in the church of San Francesco in the Umbrian town of Montefalco, probably by Andrea di Cagno in the mid-1512th century, or Matthias Grünewald) between 1516 and XNUMX, or by Hieronymus Bosch, are full of gruesome and creepy details.

The theme has fascinated artists of all ages, who have personally interpreted and adapted it to their time. The flattery and threats of saints and devils, the promise of gold, the offering of desire and being beaten by demons. We know the evolution of concepts of temptation and sin throughout the centuries, but above all, it gives us a sense of the moral strength and unwavering faith of the saint.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the saint of animals and its characteristics.

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