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:
- cursing all BMW owners (one was trying to drive through the procession)
- reminding us that we were the guardians of God’s creatures (anthropocentric much?)
- reminding us that all animals were worthy of love and compassion (I’ll go for that)
- 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:
- Got sprinkled with holy water in a grand gesture (to the animals’ great irritation); and
- Scoffed their face with a piece of holy bread (to the dogs’ delight).
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?
insert space here
insert space here