Franciscan Monastery in Bolivia Adopts Cute Puppy, Makes Him Honorary Monk?

A Franciscan monastery in the South American country of Bolivia has reached international fame for their little puppy, but the media reports that their cute dog was a stray and that his habit was more than a prank were shot down by a monk on Facebook.

The Franciscan monastery of Cochabamba, Bolivia, announced that their furry puppy Carmelo had joined their sacred fold. The monks reportedly even gave Carmelo a canine habit and even a formal title: Friar Bigotón (the Spanish word for “mustache”).

“His life is all about playing and running,” fellow friar Jorge Fernandez told The Dodo, an American animal rights website. “Here, all of the brothers love him very much. He is a creature of God.”

In the Roman Catholic tradition, St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals, and he founded one of the most dominant monastic orders in history. The Franciscans and the Dominicans have long and impressive histories. Great medieval philosophers like Saint Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus were members of the Franciscan order, along with one of the fathers of modern science, Roger Bacon.

Naturally, Roman Catholics do not believe that animals like dogs can become full friars, and despite media reports that the monks were making a statement, a monk later revealed that these photos were a prank. Some reported Friar Bigotón lived as a stray before being adopted, but that might not be the truth.

“If all the churches in our country take just a puppy as we care for Friar Bigotón, we are sure that the parishioners will follow their example,” the Proyecto Narices Frias (Spanish for “Cold Nose Project”), posted on Facebook last week. “Thank you, you are an example worthy of sharing.”

The Proyecto Narices Frias reportedly made the dog’s adoption possible. A local animal rescue group, the project partnered with the monastery to encourage the adoption of strays by churches and other religious institutions.

The brothers posted pictures of Friar Bigotón in many different settings — being held and petted, running about, and even engaging in missionary work!

“Brother Carmelo preaching to the fish,” Franciscan Kasper Mariusz Kaproń captioned one delightfully cute photo. Kaproń was the first to post photos of  Friar Bigotón online in late February.

Fray Carmelo predicando a los peces

Posted by Kasper Mariusz Kaproń Ofm on Sunday, February 26, 2017

On Thursday, Kaproń corrected the media, writing (excuse the bad translation):

All I can say is: our dog is not a stray, whose abandoned on the street, we took the puppy, but which we received as a gift for Christmas. Feeling right at home, because the animal must be treated like an animal. He was dressed like in the picture is just a prank carnival our seminarians…. just make me smile. It wasn’t any action which would have a fait accompli (Social, ecological…) please put no history and no connecting separate thoughts with invisible lines or ideology (Theology) where she’s gone.

It is important to note that the monastery does not treat the dog like a human being — he is not a true monk, and apparently the photos were a joke taken out of context. None of this diminishes the cuteness of Friar Bigotón.

Pope Francis himself chose his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and this kind of heartwarming story is likely to encourage him. It would not be surprising to hear from the Vatican on this.

In the meantime, here is a video from Inside Edition.