Pigs, chickens, horses and even two terrapins queue up to be blessed to mark the patron saint of animals Saint Anthony's Day
- Pet owners congregate at churches to celebrate patron saint of animals
- Animals were taken to the Vatican to mark feast of St Anthony the Abbot
By Tom Gardner
PUBLISHED: 11:05 EST, 17 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:51 EST, 17 January 2014
This brings an entirely new meaning to welcoming the flock of God.
Pets were brought to churches across Europe today to received a special blessing to celebrate the patron saint of animals.
Pigs, chickens, horses, cats, dogs and even two terrapins headed to services to be anointed by priests.
All creatures great and small: A priest peers into the cage while blessing a mouse outside Madrid's San Anton Church today
Blessed: A man holds hit pet dog, left, while they wait to be anointed by a priest while another owner clasps two of his Terrapins as he waits for a blessing outside the Saint Anton church in Madrid today
Some of the pets brought along to Saint Anton church in Madrid to celebrate the patron saint of animal's
The Vatican in Rome was filled as an array of animals queued in St Peter's Square to mark the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, the third-century holy man who is the Catholic Church's patron of animals - a title shared with St Francis of Assisi.
Farmers, ranchers and breeders brought their animals to the square for a blessing by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica.
Comastri also said a Mass inside the church for the humans - the animals waited outside.
Anointed: A cat is blessed by a priest at Saint Anton's Church in Madrid, Spain, today
One of the dogs which had been brought to Madrid's San Anton Church get holy water dipped on its head on the day of San Anton, Spain's patron saint of animals
As well as the spiritual comfort, veterinarians from the Italian animal breeders association AIA offered free check-ups to pets brought to the square.
More pets were anointed outside the Saint Anton church in Madrid today.
Thousands of people all over Spain bring their pets to churches to be blessed on this day every year.
A dog is blessed by a priest at Saint Anton's Church in Madrid, Spain, today, during the celebration of Saint Anton Patron Day
Centre of attention: A cat sits on a pew as worshipers attend a mass in the Saint Anton church in Madrid, today
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