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Blessing of the Animals Brings Out L.A.'s Pets

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2008, at 07:01PM
Blessing of the Animals Ed Fuentes

Cardinal Mahony makes his way to the stage for the blessing.

Saturday marked the 78th Blessing of the Animals at Olvera Street. The procession from the plaza to a Los Angeles street stage was led by a single cow. Once there, prayers were said, speeches made and doves released.

Curious who they choose who gets the lead? The cow gets that honor for being the animal that has given most to humanity.

After the initial ceremony came the real animal line up. L.A.'s birds, cats, dogs and domestic rodents were all well represented. Each animal was blessed by Cardinal Mahony, who can fling Holy Water with pinpoint accuracy, even when flanked by the Mayor, Council members and movers and shakers of Olvera Street.

As part of the continuing celebration of Leo Politi, who would have turned 100 this year, the artist's family accompanied the cow at the lead of the procession. Politi's "Blessing of the Animals" mural was painted in 1978.

Early Cart

Decorated carts are a procession tradition. This 1940's shot is courtesy of the El Pueblo Historical Monument.

Today's Cart

The tradition carries through to today.

Stars

It wouldn't be L.A. without a movie star appearance. Disney brought out the cast of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” -- Chloe, Papi, (Chihuahuas) Delgado (German Shepherd) and El Diablo (Doberman), who graciously followed the lead animals.

blessing

Cardinal Mahony at work.

More photos over on flickr.

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