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The Baker’s Dog of Lisbon

Gregory Johnson

One of the most striking episodes of reverence shown by animals for Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament is that of a baker’s dog at Lisbon. It would seem almost incredible if its truth were not vouched by such authors as John Eusebius and Stephen Menochius.

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The baker's dog would wait to hear the bell announcing the Blessed Sacrament
This baker’s dog, without ever having been taught to do so, seemed to exhibit toward the Most Blessed Sacrament all the devoted fidelity which so often distinguishes the attachment of these animals to their masters. As soon as the bell rang to announce that the Blessed Sacrament was to be carried to the sick, he would run to the church and, lying down at the door, he would wait until the priest came out with the Blessed Sacrament. Then he would join the procession, running from one side to the other, as if he were deputed to keep order.

Once the bell was rung at about midnight. The dog instantly jumped up to go in all haste to the church. The doors of the house, however, were all locked so that he could not get out, so he went to his master’s room, whining and barking in order to awaken him. Not being successful, he went to another person in the house, whom he pulled by his clothes to the door of the house and held on to him until he opened it.

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Once in Holy Week he watched for 24 hours successively when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the sepulcher. He would not permit the slightest indecorum in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and so long as he was in the church, no one dared to sit or stand.

On one occasion, as the Viaticum was being carried to a sick person, he found a peddler asleep on the roadside. He barked until the man awoke, uncovered his head and knelt while the Viaticum was passing. On another occasion he compelled a country woman, who was riding on an ass, to dismount and adore the Blessed Sacrament.

Sometime the baker’s dog was mistaken in the signal and would go to the church when the bell had rung for a funeral. In such cases he would return home immediately.

No one, not even his master, was able to break the dog of this habit of going to the church when the bell would ring. Whether they tried to entice him with food or fastened him up, all was in vain. In the first case, he would snap at the meat once or twice; then, as if fearing to be late, he would run off to the church. In the latter case, he would howl so dreadfully that they were glad to release him.

Thus has God been pleased to give us, through a creature devoid of understanding, a lesson in our duty.

From Michael Muller, The Blessed Eucharist, Our Greatest Treasure,
Published in 1868, republished by TAN 1994, pp. 207-208
Posted June 12, 2010

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