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Pet Lovers on Parade: What Blessing of the Animals Looked Like in Vintage Los Angeles

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Chihuahua held in a purse
A chihuahua looks out from a purse held by a woman at The Blessing of the Animals on Olvera Street, [1967]. Photo credit: William Reagh, Los Angeles Photographers Collection

When it comes to cats versus dogs, or birds, rabbits, and horses, what makes your pet special? Is it all your love and nurturing? Its abject cuteness and sass? What if you could receive a blessing for your pet—more special still?

The Blessing of the Animals has been a long-standing L.A. tradition. The practice dates back to the fourth century when San Antonio De Abad was named the patron saint of the animal kingdom and began to bless animals to promote their good health. When Olvera Street opened in 1930, so did the festival and parade, where it's been held ever since. The ceremony is held the Saturday before Easter, and this year the blessing is bestowed by Archbishop Jose Gomez. There are lots of fun activities planned by the Department of Cultural Affairs who sponsor the event, and, you do not have to be Catholic to participate. All animals, and humans, are welcome!

Check out these images from our Photo Collection of past festivals to see what sorts of pets people had in vintage L.A.


Pets (and their People) on Parade


cat from El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection

Photo of a cat at Blessing of the Animals event, [ca.1970s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Girl with rabbit in basket
Girl with a rabbit in a basket at Blessing of the Animals event, [ca.1960s]. Photo credit: Ralph Crane, LIFE & El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Girl with white rabbit in cage
Girl with white rabbit in cage, at Blessing of the Animals event, [ca.1960s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Three women with parakeets
Three women with parakeets at Blessing of the Animals event, [ca.1950s]. Photo credit: Roy Cline, El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Crowds of people clebrating in the Plaza and on Olvera Street
Crowds of people celebrating in the Plaza and on Olvera Street at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1970s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Free Refreshments for the Animals
Free Refreshments for the Animals at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1960s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
two different sized dogs at the Blessing of the Animals
Two dogs one big one small at Blessing of the Animals event, [1967]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Girl with goat at Blessing of the Animals
Girl with goat at Blessing of the Animals, [1967]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Four children and sheep at Blessing of the Animals
Four children and sheep at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1970s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Boy and girl with donkey
Boy and girl with donkey at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1960s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Girl, boy and horse
Girl, boy and horse at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1960s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Girl with horse at Blessing of the Animals
Girl with horse at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1940s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
four men on horseback
Four horsemen in Blessing of the Animals procession, [1966]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Pitchess, Consuelo de Bonzo, Mario Valadez, and Hernando Courtright in group photo
Pitchess, Consuelo de Bonzo, Mario Valadez, and Hernando Courtright in group photo at Blessing of the Animals, [ca.1960s]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection
Leo Politi standing in front of Blessing of Animals mural on the Biscailuz Building
Leo Politi standing in front of Blessing of Animals mural on the Biscailuz Building, [1979]. El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection

 

 

 

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