Archbishop Jose H. Gomez presided over the annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony Saturday in downtown Los Angeles, an Olvera Street tradition that dates back to 1930.
The event, held in anticipation of Easter vigil Mass, got underway at 2 p.m. in the plaza in front of Pico House. Dozens of Angelenos brought their dogs, cats, sheep, cows, horses, birds, pigs and other animals.
The ritual dates to the 4th century, when saints began to bless animals for the services, comfort and companionship they provide humans. Saturday’s blessing lasted about an hour.
An Easter vigil Mass was scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels downtown.
On Sunday, the archbishop will celebrate Easter Mass in English beginning at 10 a.m. at the cathedral. Father David Gallardo will celebrate the Mass in Spanish at 1 p.m.
“Easter is a great day filled with hope and joy for us,” Gomez said in a statement. “Christ is risen and we know we will rise with him! Easter tells us that God’s love is stronger than death. And that Jesus is on our side.”
3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with new details about the afternoon ceremony.
This article was originally posted at 11:30 a.m.