Dog bless you

Article about… a dog blessing ceremony.
By Laure-Anne Viselé, October 2010

Animal blessing day in Belgium?!

24 October is St Hubert’s day in Belgium: apparently the day animals get blessed by Catholic priests throughout Belgium! I happened to be in the neighbourhood and I HAD to see it.

Came Sunday morning and, wouldn’t you know it, there they were: about forty horses, twenty dogs and one… cat queueing to be blessed. I watched in delight and disbelief as a deadly serious (and kind of cute) catholic priest in his white robes stood ceremoniously with his basket of holy bread, a pail of holy water, and a holy water ‘sprinkler’.

Blessed are the meek and the… golden retrievers

He started the open-air ceremony with a speech, imparting wisdom to his flock through:

  1. cursing all BMW owners (one was trying to drive through the procession)
  2. reminding us that we were the guardians of God’s creatures (anthropocentric much?)
  3. reminding us that all animals were worthy of love and compassion (I’ll go for that)
  4. exhorting us to treat nature with respect (I couldn’t fathom the link between this morning’s happenings and nature. Had he secretly been blessing squirrels too?)

Post-oratio, the procession moved in a less than orderly fashion to get blessed. Here’s a bit of useless etiquette information should you ever take your animal to be blessed: horses go first.

So, as each animal and its owner made their way to the priest they:

  1. Got sprinkled with holy water in a grand gesture (to the animals’ great irritation); and
  2. Scoffed their face with a piece of holy bread (to the dogs’ delight).

Even my kid's looking skeptical

Noteworthy events: A woman shouted at the priest for scaring her horse (?!), and another asked for a piece of holy bread for her dog who had to stay home (seriously?).

After that soul-cleansing ceremony, I am glad to report that the following 18 dogs were saved from the flames of hell:

  • 4 Jack Russell terriers (one of them needed a triple dose if you ask me…)
  • 2 golden retrievers
  • 4 Border Collies
  • 1 Coton de Tulear
  • 2 maltesers
  • 1 German Shepherd
  • 2 Malinois
  • 1 (obese) American cocker spaniel
  • 1 Tervuren dog

Whatever will happen to that pony’s soul?

The whole thing was more Belgian folklore than deep theology but there IS  a deep question: Will the Shetland pony go to hell for stealing loads of holy bread while the priest wasn’t looking?

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Picture gallery of that memorable day

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