Festival Of San Bartolome de Pinares: A Dramatic And Controversial Rite Honors St. Anthony

By on Jan 20, 2011 in Europe, Events, World Comments

San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain – Around 100 horsemen reportedly celebrated the festival of San Bartolome de Pinares in Spain on January 16, 2011.

Every year on January 16, the people in the small Spanish village honors the patron saint of animals, Saint Anthony by riding their horses through piles of burning tree branches, much likely a traditional baptism of fire for horses. International news reported that the traditional festival being observed by the people of San Bartolome de Pinares was said to be an odd way to honor the patron saint of animals.

During their festival they let their horses gallop through flames as part of the Luminarias religious celebration. People in San Bartolome de Pinares believed that by letting their horses leap through the fire it will give the animals the protection of St. Anthony.

Reports said that the tradition was said to be under threat against animal rights group, who believed that the tradition causes the horses unnecessary stress. However, participants insist that their animals remained unharmed and that the fire and smoke purify their horses and protect them against illnesses.

See some photos below during the baptism of fire for horses as part of the festival celebration.

Horses Gallop Through Fire
The horses are wet down before they make their runs. A man rides a horse through a bonfire in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011, during a traditional festival in honor of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals.Photo Credit: Arturo Rodriguez/AP

San Bartolome de Pinares Festival
A horseman jumps over a bonfire in the central Spanish village of San Bartolome de Pinares to open the celebrations for the feast of Saint Anthony, patron saint of animals, on January 16, 2011.Photo Credit: Dominique Faget /AFP/Getty Images

A girl rides a horse through a bonfire on January 16, 2011 in the small village of San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain. In honor of San Anton, the patron saint of animals, horses are riden through the bonfires on the night before the official day of honoring animals in Spain.
Photo Credit: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

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