Churches tend to be welcoming places, but does that include four-legged parishioners? Asking for a friend.
At one church in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, the answer is a resounding yes. Father Sobreira was in the middle of delivering Sunday morning mass at the Nossa Senhora das Dores chapel when a yellow dog wandered into the sanctuary. His leash dangling, the dog appeared to be lost as he played in the quiet outskirts of the congregation.
“He entered the church after Mass had already begun,” explained a church official. “He went up to the altar, bit and pulled the towels from the altar, destroyed some flower arrangements, even the priest wanted him to leave.”
After a few moments, the dog tired of eating flowers and approached Father Sobreira. “While the readings were being read, and all were seated, the dog wanted to play with the priest, biting and pulling his robes,” the official said. While it would have been understandable for the priest to be irritated by the dog’s playful antics, instead worshippers spotted a smile creeping onto the Father’s face.
The dog continued to playfully roll around at the priest’s feet, nibbling on his robes and demanding belly rubs, throughout the mass. “The priest explained to the audience that [the dog] was a little boy and that he wanted to play,” they said.
After mass, church officials tracked the dog’s owner down and returned him to his rightful home. It turns out that the dog’s name is Herman, and his owner has been stricken with Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, the owner’s daughter was there to identify Herman and welcome him back into their household.
As it turns out, Herman picked the perfect church service to crash that Sunday morning. Father Sobreira is known for being an animal lover. In fact, after Christmas Eve mass the priest found a puppy abandoned inside the church. He later adopted the puppy himself!
The church uploaded a video of the adorable mass-crashing to Facebook where it went viral. It has currently been viewed nearly 7 million times! It’s a beautiful example of loving all of God’s creatures with the same patience that we’d want extended to ourselves.
Watch the video for yourself below, and be sure to share with a dog lover who would react the same way Father Sobreira did.
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