The newest member of a Franciscan monastery in Cochabamba, Bolivia, is an adopted Schnauzer named Carmelo. The former stray has earned worldwide attention for photos posted of him wearing a monk's habit and looking remarkably like his brother monks. The popular pooch has even earned the title Fray Bigotón — or Friar Mustache.
He's seen wandering around the monastery and even stopping to visit the fishes.
The photos were posted to Facebook by Franciscan Kasper Mariusz Kaproń who was surprised at how much attention the little dog garnered.
He posted (translated from Polish): "Nice joke by my theology students, who dressed the pooch in our monastery's 'Franciscan habit' and posting photos on Facebook gave rise to an event that took on dimensions not in the least bit intended," he said. "And so the pup has become an opportunity to enter into evangelization with people who often have little in common with the Church."
The animal rescue group Proyecto Narices Frías (Project Cold Nose) was behind Carmelo's adoption and hopes that all the attention will nudge other monasteries and churches to adopt dogs, too.
"If all the churches of our country adopt only one dog and take care of it like Fray Bigoton," the group wrote on Facebook, "we are sure that the parishioners would follow his example."
While the adorable photos keep circulating around the world, Kaproń seems a bit frustrated with the attention being received by a cute dog wearing a monk's robes.
"It's the paradox of today's world. You want to interest the world in a real and important problem: no one listens," he writes. "You put fun pictures of a dog and you post them on [Facebook] and you get interest from the media around the world."
Hopefully the attention garnered by the honorary canine friar will help call attention to the more serious issues the Franciscans are working on, including the poverty-stricken children of Bolivia.