In honor of Saint Anthony the Abbot, one Spanish village has a controversial way of celebrating the patron Saint of domestic animals: riding them through fire.
Every year the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares builds large bonfires for the event they call Las Luminarias. The annual festival is meant to purify the horse and protect them for the year ahead.
As many would guess, the treatment of the animals has been the brunt of great scrutiny from animal rights activists. Juan Ignacio Codina, who represents the Observatory of Justice and Animal Defense, told the International Business Times : "There is no logic in forcing these animals into a stressful situation against their own nature. In the midst of the 21st century, this is something from a bygone era. There is no superstition or belief that should justify an act of such cruelty."
The town claims that veterinarians had checked the animals and could not fine a single injury or burn on the horses. While this may be true many from the village have expressed an interest in scaling down the festival and ridding the celebration of large fires. Some have suggested that the jumping of the horses should also be put to rest since the original ceremony only required that the animals walk around the fire.
While it's great news that none of the animals were harmed in the fire, the terrifying images from the festival are sure to stick with many.