On April 7th animals will invade El Pueblo during the annual Blessing of the Animals. Animal expert Diana L Guerrero comments.
Birds of a feather flock together and on April 7, 2007 guests at Olvera Street will really be birds and animals. A critter crowd of dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and snakes will accompany owners as they meander through booths and the visit the merchants at El Pueblo while waiting to participate in the annual Blessing of the Animals.
The event is a thrill for animal lovers of all types. Veteran attendees will arrive with pets in strollers and wagons hours before the blessing. Mexican charros (cowboys) participate in roping contests upon their stout steeds while gaily decorated folklorico dancers visit under adjacent archways. Plumed performers ready elaborate headdresses for the procession and warm up by dancing for crowds gathered around the gazebo. Wandering minstrels will enchant observers who mingle with pet owners, sharing stories, and snacks while visiting the many booths of animal related charities.
Diana L. Guerrero, author of BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: A GUIDE TO PRAYERS & CEREMONIES CELEBRATING PETS AND OTHER CREATURES (ISBN 1402729677) will also be there as the Olvera Street story is featured in the new book.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Guerrero returned during her research as a guest at El Pueblo’s Blessing of the Animals celebration—mingling with notable Angelinos such as Antonio Villaraigosa—the mayor of Los Angeles.
During the Benedicion de los Animales the cow is the honored processional leader. Blanketed in an elaborate cascade of flowers, or a beautifully constructed mantle, the bovine traditionally leads, even walking before the distinguished Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This tribute honors the historic role cattle hides, meat, and tallow played in establishing a place of worship in El Pueblo.
Guerrero said, “During the anniversary celebration the beautiful bovine got a little stage fright but in the end decided to cooperate. Cardinal Mahony also has a unique blessing technique that must be experienced to be appreciated. ”
The author interviewed many spiritual leaders about their animal blessings and discovered that animals catalyze people to cross religious lines to find common ground. She also believes that the Olvera Street blessing probably goes back further than was previously documented.
“Anecdotal accounts regarding animal blessing traditions surface frequently, going back to the 4th Century, but actual documentation is scarce. Here in California, the Los Angeles Olvera Street blessing became popular around 1930. However, recent research indicates that the blessing may actually go as far back as 1781 and the founding of Los Angeles."
Despite the crowds and diversity of animals in attendance, pet blessings are usually peaceable kingdoms.
"Sometimes animals are restless, but most cooperate. Perhaps we need to give the nervous critters a list of commandments: Thou shall come when called, Thou shall behave in public..."
Guerrero included those commandments in BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS. Short excerpts are available online at www.blessingoftheanimals.com. The book is available at booksellers throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.