Priests Bless Horses on St. Stephen's Day
Here in the United States many churches bless all sorts of animals on the saint day for Saint Francis of Assissi. A church in Connecticut would even have locals bring their work horses to church to be blessed on that day. St Stephen is the actual saint of horses in many Christian churches. It is said he tamed a horse only by showing it a cross. For hundreds of years December 26th, St Stephen’s Day, has been the day to take your horse to church to be blessed. It is interesting to see that in Slovenia this is still the case. ~ HfH
From: Slovenia Times
Horse owners brought their animals to church on Friday for blessing on St. Stephen’s Day, and many congregations around the country saw priests step out of the church to bless the animals.
The biggest blessing was held in the town of Šentjernej (SE), with almost 150 horsemen and more than 3,000 people attending.
Šentjernej Mayor Radko Luzar told the STA that the horse blessing ceremony in his town was among the oldest in Slovenia, with the event attracting horsemen and visitors from all around Slovenia.
The mayor sees the event as contribution to the preservation of the horse breeding and horse riding tradition in Slovenia, which has been present in the Šentjernej field since the Roman times. This year the ceremony was held for the 156th year in a row, he added.
According to Luzar, horses are the most appreciated animals in the town and a symbol of the Šentjernej field, with the local horse riding club boasting a 129-year-old tradition of harness racing.
The horse blessing ceremony in Šentjernej is organised by the local voluntary fire-fighters’ association together with the municipal authorities.
The horses and their owners fist gather at the local hippodrome before the procession is moved to the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in the near-by village of Dolenja Stara vas, which was built on the site of a former St Stephen’s Church in the 18th century.
The Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop, Anton Jamnik, will meanwhile give blessing to horses at the Ljubljana hippodrome in the Stožice borough in the afternoon. The blessing is preceded by a sulky harness race.
The Evangelical-Lutheran Bishop, Geza Filo, also delivered a St. Stephen’s Day mass at the Ljubljana Primož Trubar Church.
According to a legend, St. Stephen tamed a wild horse with a cross and is celebrated as the patron of horses and other farm animals in central and northern Europe.
Horse blessings on this day were first mentioned in a 10th century manuscript from Germany’s Trier, while the first to report about such custom on Slovenian lands was polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693).