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Under a cloudy sky, the faithful and their mascotas (pets) gathered in the plaza in front of the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced for the Bendición de los Animales (Blessing of the Animals).
Human and dog faces
This annual event, held on August 31, celebrates the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato (aka, St. Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.  This last, though not often mentioned, seems to come from the story that he was raised on a farm and, according to this website, “chose for his occupation the care of the sheep, in order to gain more time for prayer and meditation.”  Today’s El Imparcial states that La Merced is the only church in the city with an image of the saint.
Figure of San Ramón Nonato
Here in Oaxaca, instead of sheep, San Ramón was surrounded by dogs of all sizes, shapes, and temperament.  By far, they outnumbered all other animal species put together — except humans.  Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in pet (as opposed to roof and street) dogs in Oaxaca.  Perhaps a sign of a growing middle class?  And, many dressed for the occasion.  However this dalmatian must have also paid a visit to a makeup artist.  Lipstick on the collar (muzzle, forehead, and ear) of a new friend tells the tale (tail?).
2 dogs nuzzle to nuzzle
There were also the other usual pet suspects — cats and kittens, though most looked like they would like to be anywhere else but there, and canaries and cockatiels, the latter both in cages and perched on shoulders.  This guy seemed more interested in the pin-up girl lining his cage than getting blessed by a few drops of holy water from the temple’s priest, Víctor Hernández Antonio.
Parakeet in cageHowever, my vote for the most exotic pet of the day goes to the hurón, known in English as a ferret.  Oh those piercing eyes and those claws.  I’d hate to get on her wrong side!
Ferret with red bow on head
I wonder…  What do you think the abuelas and abuelos, who remembered the old days when it was donkeys, goats and farm animals who were led along Oaxaca’s dirt streets to be blessed, thought?

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… and fish and turtles and ducks.  On August 31, as the rain fell, all of the above and more, assembled at Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced for the annual Bendición de los Animales.  Animals and their human keepers were there to celebrate the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato, patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.

There were some familiar faces, both human and animal, from last year’s blessing.  However, this year the dogs were extremely vocal and, on occasion, tested the strength of the human at the other end of their leash — perhaps it was in anticipation of the evening’s “blue moon” or maybe being restrained and made to just sit or stand in the rain made them grouchy.

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This morning’s article in Noticias covering the blessing, led off  with this quote from Benito Juárez García:

La protección de los animales forma parte esencial de la moral y de la cultura de los pueblos civilizados.  (The protection of animals is an essential part of morality and culture of civilized people.)

For more on this year’s Blessing of the Animals, head over to Oaxaca-The Year After.

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One priest, countless dogs, several birds, a couple of cats, a few fowl, a pair of fish, one white rabbit, numerous cute kids, parents and grandparents, beautiful young women, tough guys and cool teens, multiple media outlets, and spectators (with cameras and cell phones) congregated at 4 PM today in the plaza outside the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (Temple of Our Lady of Mercy) for the Bendición de los Animales (Blessing of the Animals).

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This annual event, held on August 31, celebrates the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato, patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.  The gathering was muy tranquilo; a Peaceable Kingdom prevailed and Edward Hicks would have felt right at home.

I must say the priest was quite energetic with the holy water and even the non-believers among us got a good sprinkling and came away feeling blessed!

(ps)  Fellow blogger, Chris, caught the priestly action.

(pps)  Noticias has video… the music is priceless!

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