As we already mentioned in the section Boundaries > Descendants of Anubis (http://www.liminamortis.org/boundaries/descendants-of-anubis/) concerning the case reported by Mr. Mario Ritaldi (Italy, Rome), in the anecdotage of both lives of Saints and miraculous phenomena we sometimes find the presence of dogs: in some cases positive presences that work to help, in other occasions definitely negative manifestations that come for threatening.
Let’s proceed through four examples, that are really interesting to mention.
Don Bosco and the Gray (dog)
A Piedmontese Saint from XIX Century, founder of Congregation of Salesians, don Bosco found a faithful companion in a big gray dog, èl Gris’ in Piedmontese dialect, by many described as a German Shepherd-looking dog that aroused fear; some people instead thought that this dog looked like a wolf: a long snout, pricked ears, gray coat, about one meter tall. This mysterious dog became protagonist of fanciful stories so that don Bosco, in order to clear away possible exaggerations, preferred to directly recount the events about him, at the end of his “Memoirs of the Oratory” (anyway, recent studies confirm that before the Gray, don Bosco was helped, although for a short period, by another dog, with features similar to those of the Gray, called by the boys of the Oratory “the Polish“).
The first meeting took place during a particularly dark evening when, all alone, don Bosco had to cross an abandoned area. He saw a big dog but, since the dog didn’t show him any hostility, don Bosco approached him and began to caress him. The dog fawned on him and then accompanied him, and then disappeared. This fact happened several times.
Towards the end of 1854, on a foggy night, while don Bosco was walking, he realized there were two threatening men proceeding before him, but it was too late to change course. The two men attacked him, wrapping him with a cloak in order to block him. Then the Gray appeared. The dog barked loudly, pushed one of the men using his legs and then jumped to the throat of the other one. The attackers, terrified, asked don Bosco to restrain the dog. Don Bosco called the animal, which kept on barking, and then ran away.
One night Margherita, the mother of don Bosco, tried to dissuade his son from the idea of going out, but don Bosco was determined to go, letting some big and brave boys accompany him. The Gray was lying down at the front door and did not seem willing to move. Don Bosco told him to move for going with him, but the dog, instead of obeying, began to bark and refused to move. Twice don Bosco tried to climb over, but the Gray refused to let him pass. At the end, don Bosco had to desist from his intention to go out. Later, don Bosco acknowledged that that night he was expected by some men who would have attacked him with the aim of killing him.
Don Bosco wrote that he saw the Gray for the last time in 1866 when, having to go for greeting a farmer, the Gray was locked in a room, to avoid the guard dogs of the farmer attack him. When someone, later on, went to bring him food, the dog had mysteriously disappeared. No one ever saw him again.
Don Bosco was asked several times to give an opinion on the nature of the amazing animal and he admitted that the dog was a creature worthy of note in his life. Although saying that the dog was an angel would have certainly made people laugh, nevertheless he had to admit that he was not a common dog. Don Bosco often thought about the origin of that dog and he admitted that he had been a true gift from Providence.
Father Pio and the monstrous dog
Father Pio, whose original name was Francesco Forgione, born in Campania and become a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, is a Saint from last Century and his life is full of many “unusual” events.
Father Pio in 1906 was in the convent of St. Elias in Pianisi (in Campania, Italy). During a summer night, since he couldn’t sleep because of the heat, Father Pio heard, coming from the room next to his, footsteps noise of someone who was keeping on walking forth and back.
Padre Pio, thinking that it was Father Anastasio who, like him, could not sleep, thought to call him for talking a bit and so spending some time together. He walked to the window and called the other friar, but then he stopped when he suddenly saw appearing, on the sill of the other window, a dog with a monstrous snout. After a while, while he was still terrified, he saw a big dog entering through the door. From its mouth a large quantity of smoke was coming out. Father Pio fell on the bed and heard the animal talking in dialect: “è iss, è isso” (it’s him, it’s him). Then, that ugly dog jumped, with a great leap, onto the window sill and from there jumped again onto the roof of the house that was on the other side, and then disappeared.
Father Pio considered this strange event as the first encounter he had with the Devil (during his life, Father Pio had many other encounters with the Devil).
Our Lady of Divine Love and a “pack of rabid dogs”
The shrine of Divine Love, located on the way Ardeatina, in the area of Castel di Leva (Italy, Rome), is the object of great popular devotion since when a traveler was saved thanks to the image of the Madonna and Child that was painted on the wall of the ancient tower.
It is said that, in the spring of 1740, a pilgrim, going to the basilica of St. Peter, got lost in the countryside near Castel di Leva, about 12 km South of Rome. Having seen a few houses and a ruined castle on top of a hill, the traveler went there, hoping to find someone who could give him information to find his way. He was approached by a pack of rabid dogs which surrounded him. The pilgrim, looking up, saw that on the tower of the castle there was an icon representing the Virgin and Child, and on top of them the dove of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, after he had prayed the Virgin to save him from that danger, the dogs, which were going to attack him, suddenly stopped and vanished. Shepherds who were in the area, having heard the cries of the traveler, rushed to the spot and, after having listened to his story, gave him the necessary indications to get to Rome.
The name of the pilgrim is unknown but the news of the incident spread rapidly in the city, so that the place with the icon of the Madonna in Castel di Leva soon became a destination of pilgrimages, which still continue today.
Saint Rocco and his dog
Saint Rocco, who had French origins, lived in the XIV Century and, according to tradition, once his parents had died and he had given the poor people all his wealth, left France and went on his journey to Italy. He chose Italy because, along the Via Francigena (road used by pilgrims), he wanted to help sick pilgrims.
At Piacenza (a town North of Italy), while attending the ones sick of the plague in the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, got sick himself. Expelled from the hospital, Saint Rocco arrived at Sarmato, 17 km from the city, where he managed to take shelter in a cave waiting for death.
It was a dog that saved him. The animal in fact, aware of his presence and of his suffering, brought him daily a piece of bread, until he recovered. Saint Rocco, once healed, did not return to France but resumed his activities in favor of the ones sick of the plague – and for all this he is still remembered – and the dog stayed with him.
E.A. – V.G.