Bolivian monastery accepts four-legged friar

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Friar Carmelo, the Bolivian dogImage source, Kasper Mariusz Kapron Ofm
Image caption,
Social media users in Bolivia nicknamed the dog Friar Moustache on account of his facial fur

When Bolivian monasteries accept new members, they do not usually cause an online sensation.

But Friar Carmelo, nicknamed Friar Moustache, is unlike any resident the Franciscan monastery of Cochabamba has seen before.

For a start, he has four legs.

Friar Carmelo is a schnauzer. A small dog adopted by the monks four months ago, he was photographed roaming the cloisters dressed in a traditional habit.

Since then the images, taken by a visitor, have been shared thousands of times.

Image source, Kasper Mariusz Kapron Ofm
Image caption,
Friar Carmelo preaches to the fishes

"Sometimes we brothers have a laugh among ourselves and there is a brother here that is also called Carmelo, who has a moustache, so that was sort of the inspiration [behind his name]," one of the friars told local television channel ATB.

They decided to extend the joke by dressing him up.

"We had some puppets in the church that we used to amuse children, and one of puppets was wearing a habit, so we thought we'd use it," said the friar.

However, the friars have stressed that dressing up animals is not a common monastic practice and they are not making it a daily routine, after being inundated with calls and requests for visits.

Image source, Kasper Mariusz Kapron Ofm
Image caption,
The friars have warmly welcomed their new companion

Friar Carmelo remains a much-loved resident, although the friars have described him as having a naughty streak.

He is known to bite everything and hide things in the garden, but he has also quickly become a loyal companion to the monastery's residents, who say he has brought them lots of joy.

Image source, Kasper Mariusz Kapron Ofm
Image caption,
The former stray has found new friends among the monastery's 18 residents

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Saint Francis was known as the patron saint of animals, so a Franciscan monastery would be a good place for a furry friar to act out his orders.

Friars typically take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In Friar Carmelo's case, the last one would take a bit more work.