Catholic Priest blesses Birds, Vegans
Do you have a pet owl that you want blessed by a Catholic priest? Then Palma de Mallorca is the place for you.
When last Friday I went to chronicle the fabled festival of Sant Antoni, patron saint of animals, I expected to see dogs, cats, possibly goldfish. Owls and falcons, not so much. But there they were, perched on their owner's arms and glaring. The owl, in particular, looked positively psychotic and ready to kill.
“Is he... afraid?” I asked the owner.
“No, I’m the one who’s afraid!” was the answer.
I would be too! Those claws could dig straight through my arm, and the beak looked like it could take off someone's head. The falcons look bored, more than anything. Well, I thought they looked bored, but actually, I don’t really know what a bored bird looks like. Probably much the same as an un-bored bird.
I also didn't expect three different sets of musicians; drummers, a big marching band and two traditional Mallorquin musicians. What joy! Oh, Mallorca is such a paradise in so many ways.
The procession started outside Palma's mighty cathedral La Seu amid much excitement. It was supposed to begin at 10, and I was afraid to have missed it all when I got there at 10:40m, but fortunately it hadn't even started yet. About 11:15 the music started up, and a sea of dogs, birds (of prey) and proud owners wound its way through the narrow, medieval streets of the Old Town to San Miguel Church. That’s right, San Miguel, or Sant Miquel, was actually a saint, not just a beer. A priest was waiting together with a statue of Sant Antoni, blessing every beast as it padded by.
Some vegans also joined in, with a poster showing pigs, cows and chickens saying: "We also deserve to live." I asked them if I was allowed to have some eggs at least (for I too think that animals deserve to live... in a dignified way, until it's time to humanely slaughter them) but NO, came the categorical answer. Not even an egg? Count me out.
But oh, what a beautiful morning in the stunning city of Palma, and what a lovely tradition. I think all countries should have a day for blessing animals.
The next day I saw a report about a place in China where people had forced a pig to bungee jump 70 metres before sending it to the slaughterhouse.