Pets get blessed at Belgian St. Hubert ceremony

(REUTERS) - Hundreds of pet owners took their furry companions to be blessed in the Belgian town of Saint-Hubert on Tuesday (November 3) to mark celebrations for Saint Hubert, the patron saint of hunters.

Falcons, scores of dogs of all breeds, and even horses were blessed outside the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul after a mass inside the church.

The religious and blessing ceremonies were part of worldwide celebrations to honor Saint Hubert, who is also invoked for protection of dogs and horses.

Crowds from across the country and their pets waited for Belgian Priest Philippe Goosse to give his holy blessing.

"The sanctuary here is dedicated to Saint Hubert. So it's really the place, the first place, where we worship the patron saint of hunters (Saint Hubert). There have since been blessings taking place all over the world, but the beginning is here," Goosse said.

Golden retriever owner Liesbeth Lokere had traveled from Leuven to bring her dog Joy to the event.

"We were inside the church and even then there were a lot of dogs. It was totally silent, no barking, nothing. I was like very impressed because I go to school with her (the dog) and then you're always, the dog is barking and it's a lot of noise. Here it was all silent," she said.

Lokere and her friend Florence Defalque train their dogs for rescue operations, and said a blessing was an important yearly tradition.