Vatican City, 15 January 2013 (VIS) – Thursday, 17 January―in celebration of the Feast of St. Anthony Abbot, patron and protector of animals―the Italian Association of Livestock Farmers (AIA) will hold its traditional exhibition of farm animals, "A Farm under Heaven", in front of St. Peter's Square.
The day will officially begin with Mass for the farmers and their families to be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica at 10:30 a.m., presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. This will be followed by the solemn blessing of a procession of horses and riders along Via della Conciliazione. Even from 9:00 a.m. on, however, in the Pio XII Square directly in front of the Bernini colonnade around St. Peter's Square, there will be an exhibit of the national agriculture and livestock association's production including cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and more.
Just as in past years, pet owners are invited to bring their cats and dogs for a free check-up from veterinarians provided by the association.
The tradition of celebrating St. Anthony Abbot's feastday, deeply rooted in the farming community, is very widespread in all of the Italian agricultural communities. In the words of the president of AIA, Nino Andena, "it is a moment of celebration that we want to share with others in order to testify to the active role of farmers and ranchers within society."