Dog Turns Up to Dead Owner’s Church Every Day

Two months after his owner died, a dog in Italy keeps turning up each day at the church she used to attend.

The Telegraph has the story of the faithful doggy:

Ciccio, a 12-year-old German shepherd, waits in vain in front of the altar of the Santa Maria Assunta church in the village of San Donaci in the southern region of Puglia.

He heads to the church as soon as the bells begin to ring each afternoon, just as he did for years when his owner was alive.

The woman, who was known in local dialect as “Maria tu lu campu” – “Maria of the fields” – died suddenly in November.

Ciccio attended the funeral, following his mistress’s coffin as it was carried into the church.

The dog’s devotion has so impressed villagers that they have adopted him as their own, giving him food and water and letting him sleep in a covered area outside the church.

The local priest, Donato Panna, allows him to sit in front of the altar during Masses, baptisms and other services.

He is now hoping to find a new home for the faithful hound.


Bible Archaeology

Archaeological Archive of Israel Online

Todd Bolen on his Bible Places Blog:

The first stage of the archive is now available online, but my first impression is not positive. The viewer is clunky and the server is slow. They’ve also made it difficult to save any of the files for personal study. Perhaps improvements will come; the project is certainly a worthy one. Here’s the full press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority:

The archaeological archive of Israel, which is administered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and amasses data on all of the activity of the archeological entities in the country, is computerized and will go online in the coming days. This is being underwritten with joint funding provided by the “Landmarks” heritage program in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The scientific archive has its beginnings in the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities. It was continued by the Israel Department of Antiquities and is managed today by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which invests considerable thought and resources in its operation. [Yes, they really said that about themselves!]

The first stage, containing tens of thousands of documents, photographs, maps and plans from the years 1919–1948 from Akko and Jerusalem, is already available for viewing online at Most of this material was written in English.

Uploading the old and valuable material to the website required special preparations. In order to scan the material, the Israel Antiquities Authority engaged the services of ImageStore Systems Ltd. This is because the archival material is especially delicate and sensitive and cannot be scanned with industrial equipment; rather it can only be done individually and manually. The documents in the archive include texts photographs, maps, and plans etc. on many different kinds of paper.

According to Israel Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hausner and Reuven Pinsky, director of the heritage project in the Prime Minister’s Office: “The Mandatory archive constitutes the principal foundation of archaeological research of the past one hundred years. This program, as part of the Israel Archives Network project for scanning and digitalization of the material on file in the archives, will make it possible for the public in general and particularly scholars in Israel and abroad to access these resources of knowledge”.

According to Dr. Uzi Dahari, Deputy Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The scientific importance of the archive is invaluable, and it is the only one of its kind in Israel and in the world. In Israel there are approximately 30,000 known and declared antiquities sites that constitute our cultural heritage – the largest and most important asset of the State of Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority declares, treats, surveys, and researches the antiquities sites in the country. One of the many activities of the Israel Antiquities Authority is the management and running of the scientific archive. The Israel Antiquities Authority decided to transfer the archive to the digitalized media, in order to disseminate the information throughout the world”. To this end, all of the information was scanned and it was indexed according to rules that are suitable for research needs”.

According to Ephraim Reich, director general of ImageStore Systems Ltd., “We are proud to have been given the opportunity by the Israel Antiquities Authority to take a significant part in preserving this important information for the public. The utilization of advanced technology for the purpose of accessing enormous amounts of information that were stored until recently in libraries and archives not sufficiently accessible to the average user is a matter of utmost importance to ImageStore Systems Ltd. We are confident that this work will help preserve this important archival material for our benefit and that of future generations”.


Aerial photograph of Jerusalem, undated. From the Archaeological Archive of Israel.

Bible Archaeology

Discovery May Help Explain Ancient Biblical Mystery

Tel Shiloh archaeological dig pitcher suggests Biblical City in Israel burned to ground.

The Huffington Post:

A pitcher found during an Israeli archeological dig may shed light on a biblical mystery that has gone unsolved for thousands of years.

The broken clay pitcher, discovered in a bed of ashes in the Tel Shiloh dig site in Samaria, Israel, suggests that the ancient city — once the de facto capital city and spiritual center of ancient Israel — was burned to the ground, the Tazpit News Agency reports.

From the news outlet:

The ashes found attest to a devastating fire the occurred at the site. The dating of the clay pitcher, 1,050 BCE, correlates with the dating of the events depicted in Book of Samuel.

As the Oxford Biblical Studies archive notes, the city of Shiloh was a religious sanctuary around the 12th century B.C.E., until it was captured by the Philistines. The Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments, was also kept in Shiloh during this time.

The Book of Samuel writes of this battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, but has never explained how exactly the city was destroyed, according to the Tazpit News Agency.

Archeological research has been conducted at Shiloh by the Archaeological Staff Officer for Judea and Samaria as well as the Binyamin local authority, Arutz Sheva previously reported.

Past finds at the site have indicated that after the disastrous loss to the Philistines, the area was inhabited until 722 B.C.E., when Assyria defeated the Kingdom of Israel.

Israel has announced numerous archeological finds in the past few years. In May, it was announced that evidence seemed to support the existence of Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

There is a nice photo gallery here too.



Obama Picks Episcopal Priest for Inauguration Prayer

The Deacon’s Bench reports:

He replaces Louie Giglio, the evangelical pastor who found himself in hot water for his remarks on homosexuality two decades ago.


The president has picked a neighbor to deliver the closing prayer at the inauguration.

The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House, dubbed the “Church of the Presidents.”

“I found out last week,” he told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.

A source close to the inaugural committee confirmed León would be delivering the benediction and said a formal announcement would be coming later in the week.

The historic church León has pastored since 1995 has been connected to every president since its founding in 1815. Inside the historic building, Pew 54 is reserved for presidents whenever they come to worship.

President Barack Obama and his family have worshiped at the church numerous times during his first term. They have visited the church more times than any other during his presidency, and the president and León are said to have a good relationship.

León’s benediction will mark his second appearance on the inauguration stage. In 2005 he delivered the invocation for the President George W. Bush’s second inauguration.

“You don’t get used to this. I’m just as nervous now as I was the first time,” León said. “From the moment someone asks you to do that, your wheels are spinning with what to say. So my wheels were spinning now.”

Read more.

Ah, yes, an Episcopalian… Just right… Relativistic, inclusive, politically correct, completely inoffensive and totally harmless…