Mass with truffles.
Yearly, on the St. Anthony's day (17th of January), in the small provincial town of Richerenche, a mass is said in honour of truffles. The local Truffle Congregation dresses in formal attire and for the collections, truffles are collected instead of money. Such a collection may amount to a couple of kilograms of this valuable mushroom which can bring in thousands of dollars for the church,
The reason that this special mass is said on St Anthony's day is due to his fondness for pigs, and without pigs, there would be no true truffle harvesting . For his love of pigs he is the patron saint of truffles, but he also manages to look after basket weavers, brush-makers, butchers, butchers, various household pets, grave-diggers, pigs. He also helps those suffering from eczema and the so called 'fire of St Anthony', namely a disease caused by poisoning with ergot
(Claviceps purpurea) in flour.
Truffles, (Tuber melanosporum), as it is well known, grow underground and are only detected by the well developed sense of smell of a pig. Dogs can also be used to detect truffles, but overall pigs seem to do a much better job. Pigs themselves, are quite partial to truffles and sometimes tend to help themselves to the pricey mushroom. They, therefore must be restrained at the appropriate moment as is illustrated in the attached picture. Dogs on the other hand are only interested in truffles for sport, and it doesn't even occur to them to eat such a thing as a mushroom. Richerenche is the capital of truffles, it is swimming with truffles of the highest quality and it is here that the most important markets and fairs are held. These occur from November until April and are visited by trufflers from around the world.