St Anthony, patron saint of pets


Today, 17th January, is the Feast of St Anthony the Abbot (St Anthony the Great), a Christian monk who was born in the 3rd century in Egypt.

Here in Spain, San Antonio is the patron saint of animals, particularly pets, and some churches have special services where owners can take their pets to be blessed. I think it’s a lovely idea.

To celebrate this feast day, I’m sharing the video talk I did last year answering the question “Did Anne Boleyn have any pets?”. I do hope you enjoy it. You’ll also get to see my family’s pets, although we didn’t have Teasel at the time!

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10 thoughts on “St Anthony, patron saint of pets”
  1. We have a city in the state of Texas named San Antonio that was probably a Spanish mission a few hundred years ago. It never occurred to me who it was named after.

    1. Michael I’m sure that city was named after St Anthony of Padua who was a Franciscan Friar of Portuguese birth. He is also known as St Anthony of Lisbon feast day is June 13th he is one of the most popular saints in Portugal.

        1. Hello Michael, I’ve found some further information which you may be interested in. St Anthony of Padua (original name Fernando) became attracted to the Franciscans after they founded a religious house just outside Coimbra in Portugal dedicated to St Anthony of Egypt. I understand he was originally an Augustinian Canon and got premission to join the Franciscans at the time that St Francis (their founder) was still alive. He ended up in Italy for ther remainder of his life. He is usually depicted in statues holding the infant Jesus and to this day is one of the most popular saints in the catholic calendar. In Catholicism he is the patron saint of lost things!
          By the way I have an ancestor Fr William Hartley a Jesuit priest who was executed during the time of Elizabeth I in 1588.
          best wishes to you

          Anthony Hartley.

          very warm regards
          Anthony Hartley.

  2. Saint Anthony the Great, a famous Saint in Egypt and Greece was a holy monk who moved to a high cave in the desert and became a recluse from the world. However, people declared he was so holy that he had all the wisdom of the world and would visit him in his cave. He drew a group of followers who went on to emulate him and soon a network of holy monks in caves grew up, then the first communities and then the early monasteries in the desert, like Saint Catherine of Sinai and the first libraries were kept here. The poor monks went to get away from the world but the world came to them and one wonders if they ever got a moment’s peace.

    Anne’s poor little dog Poukey would have been safer staying with Lady Lisle. This was very sad and her ladies would not tell her for a few days for fear of breaking her heart. The peacocks do make an awful noise. I had a friend who had geese for pets and they acted as guard dogs. They also made a noise. Fortunately she didn’t have any neighbours on the side of the house they were on as the railway was there. We do know a house as well that we used to pass on the way to college which did have two peacocks. The noise was horrendous. This is the city, the suburban part, a small semi detached not a country house. One really wonders what goes through their minds. Henry did have the peacocks removed to the other side of the palace because Anne could not sleep and was reportedly pregnant with his second child by her.

  3. I love monkeys as their very comical but I should image rather scary to have around for the little accidents they do, they swipe the glasses of your face before you can blink, I am surprised they became very popular with royalty, Katherine of Aragon was painted with hers and Lady Lisle thought as they are fashionable maybe Anne would like one, she was forever sending the queen little gifts however, she was sadly mistaken in Anne, she found them hideous, but she adored the little bundle of fluff she saw curled up in Sir Francis Bryan’s arms, it is a pity we have no painting of him maybe there was one done with his besotted owner, but went in the bonfire after her death, he seems a cute little fellow, he was her lap dog and probably slept on her bed and she carried him everywhere, then disaster struck he died suddenly and her grief must have been dreadful, Anne does appear to have been a dog lover and anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet can understand how she felt, she had only had him for a few months and it takes far less time then that to bond with an animal, Lady Lisle herself must have been dreadfully upset, had he stayed with her he would still be alive, no one dared tell Anne as everyone knew how violent her emotions were and she was likely to have turned her fury and rage on the messenger, King Henry must have given her a large goblet of claret and lovingly told her about her little darling, she must have wept on his shoulder, us who own pets know one day they will die before us, but it is very sad when that day comes, because you can mourn a beloved pet more than a person, they are part of the family, they make your house a home, they are they to greet you when you return home, and on top of that unlike our fellow humans, they love us unconditionally warts and all, near to me there is an old Jacobean house where an important member of the community once lived with his family, he may have been a justice of the peace I’m not sure, but they were related to the Duchess of Cornwall, now it is owned by the council and is open to the public, not far from the entrance to the house hidden amongst some trees near the lake are several dogs graves, the mother and her babies, they are so poignant and sad to look upon, the inscription on the mother’s grave is especially poignant as it reads, ‘Most dearest of dogs and most faithful of friends’, another inscription reads ‘ little Susie died of a bloodthirsty act’, I used to stand there and look at them all when I was a child, now they must be well over a hundred years old and they are lopsided and worn but incredibly moving to look at, regarding Anne’s other pets from Lady Lisle, the little linnet birds she was delighted with, they do sing most prettily and we all know how pleasant the sound of birdsong can be when dawn awakes, and on a warm summers evening, but the peacocks I can understand her hating them, so flamboyantly beautiful who would ever believe they could make such a dreadful screeching noise, easy on the eye they maybe but they sound like something out of the kingdom of Hades, no wonder Anne had them sent back and the pelican with it’s large yellow beak, one wants sweetly singing thrushes and nightingales, Lady Lisle tried to ingratiate herself with Queen Jane also, during her pregnancy she sent her plenty baskets of quails as she had a craving for them, she wanted her daughters to be in her service and Jane had two brought to her, and decided on the youngest prettier one, Henry V111 himself owned several pets he kept packs off hunting dogs which were not so much pets but a necessity, he also owned a cat, Cardinal Wolsey owned a cat and they have been very much a part of our lives for centuries, in ancient Egypt cats were revered and after death were mummified and interred in coffins, the goddess Bast had the face of a cat and they were guardians of the bedchamber, they were thought to ward of evil the black cat in superstition is said to be both lucky and unlucky, in the days of the great plague they were connected to witches and hounded and killed like many people suspected of such an act, dogs however have always had a unique place in people hearts, I still mourn my little dog who died over twenty years ago, he belonged to my father but was so devoted to me and used to follow me everywhere, I tell myself we will meet again one day.

  4. In Australia some Catholic and Anglican churches hold special services to bless animals on the feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4th.

  5. Thank you for that additional information Anthony. I didn’t know any of that. I am so sorry about your executed ancestor. Something I have never understood is why Jesuits were so looked down upon. Do you have any idea

    1. Hello Michael, I don’t think it was Jesuit priests in general…it may be because they were sent back to England after their training to be missionaries. After the dissolution of the monasteries there were very few priests from the other religious orders remaining in England as many had gone toover to the continent to join houses of their Order there, or joined the CofE as clergy….it was either that or be punished in some way. Some of the mongs from the Benedictine Cathedral Priory of Durham became the new chapter of the cathedral… the prior became the Dean and the monks bacame the canons. Some former monks had a reasonably good life after the dissolution as they were all given pensions and if you had been an Abbot or Prior your pension could be quite generous. There were quite a few Abbots of the larger houses who were executed for ‘being difficult’ in handing over their monasteries.
      One interesting subject in Elizabethan times is ‘priest holes’ this is where priests were hidden often in large house belonging to the catholic aristocracy…..they could minister to the particular family and other ‘secret’ catholics. There were called recusants…refusing to attend CofE services and paying fines for not doing so. Very fascinating times. I’m no longer a practising catholic…but I do find the English Reformation quite fascinating. There’s a saying ‘once a catholic always a catholic’ Happy Sunday and very nice to chat with you.

      1. Thank you for that Anthony. I know a lot more now than I did before. I’ve also enjoyed chatting with you.

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