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Chihuahuas at the Blessing of the Animals in Oaxaca de Juaraz, Oaxaca, Mexico, which occurs annually at the the Church of La Merced. It is basic for pet-owners to bring their companion animals to the gathering in costumes.

The animal blessing and fiesta occurs annually at the end of August as part of the Feast of San Ramon Nonato, 13th Century Spanish/Catalonian saint, patron of childbirth, pregnant mothers, and children, his own mother having died before he was "not-born" (he was cesarean). He's the patron saint of the state of Puebla, Mexico.

Though not as strongly associated with animals as St. Francis of Assissi, Ramon Nonato was a shepherd when a boy, and is asserted to have authorities additional to childbirth over animals and attorneys, in the latter aspect a punisher of gossips and perjurers.

His Feast Day is the one day of the year that animals are permitted even inside the Church of La Merced, with the express purpose of "recociliation between God and the animal kingdom," including forgiveness of people who have eaten or killed animals. [Photos by Thomas D. Winkler of Vancouver, B.C.]


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