In El Alto, Bolivia, residents and parishioners dressed their dogs in finery and costumes and congregated in the parish of Villa Adela this week for a Mass honoring the patron saint of dogs.
It’s a tradition on August 16, a time when the church holds the feast of San Roque, or Saint Roch. The French noble was believed to have traveled to Italy in the 14th Century to care for plague victims. He appears in images accompanied by a dog.
Locals walked to church with their pups, others sent messages on social media.
The SF Gate reported on the event.
“Dogs are creatures of God and must be cared for,” said Villa Adela’s priest, Justino Limachi. “First we vaccinate them and then we give blessings starting with the owners for them to take care of the dogs because we see so many street dogs suffering hunger and cold.”
It is true. In Bolivia there are many street dogs who suffer, the Ministry of Health estimates about a half-million, fighting among themselves for scraps.
The dogs at the church celebration, however, seem blessed with loving owners.