Search dogs signal person in the tablernacle


My dad told me a story of a time when Pope JP2 was visiting a Church in America, the search dogs swept the Church before hand as a safety procaution and signaled that there was a person in the Eucharistic Tabernacle.

Does anybody know about this story and has any evidence of its validity?



I have heard about that as well.


**I found this on web search. **



On the evening of the last day of his October 1995 visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II was scheduled to greet the seminarians at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. It had been a very full day, beginning with Mass at Oriole Park in Camden Yards, followed by a parade through the downtown streets, a visit to the Basilica of the Assumption, the first Cathedral in the country; lunch at a local soup kitchen run by the Catholic Charities; a prayer service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in the north Baltimore and finally a quick stop at St. Mary’s Seminary.
The schedule was tight so the plan was to simply greet the seminarians while they stood outside on the steps. But, Pope John Paul made his way through their ranks and into the building. His plan was to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. When his wishes were made known, security personnel quickly flew into action ahead of the Pope. Their activities included a sweep of the building, paying closest attention to the chapel where John Paul would be praying. For this purpose, highly trained dogs were used to detect any persons who might be present.
The dogs were trained to locate living people in collapsed buildings after earth quakes and other disasters. These intelligent and eager canines went through their rounds in the halls, offices and classrooms quickly and were then sent into the chapel. They went up and down the aisles and past the pews, and finally into the side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Upon reaching the tabernacle the dogs sniffed and whined and pointed, refusing to leave. They were convinced that they discovered someone there and firmly remained, their attention riveted to the tabernacle, until called out by the handlers.
We Catholics know they were right; they found a real living Person in the Tabernacle!

Source; Martha Chai and written by Linada Brenegan of Baltimore, MD for the Gospel Mission News Letter.


I found this on the web.

search dogs


And did these dogs react the same way in the presence of other Tabernacles in other churches, cathedrals, and basilicas the Pope visited?


Catholic dogma states that the host retains the accidents of bread and wine when consecrated[1], only the substance is changed. How could dogs detect the substance of something by sniffing (smells is are accidents not substances)[2]

[1] Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma


St Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologica:



Blood and flesh, particularly AB type if the Shroud of Turin is to believed.

And to the OP yes I’ve heard of this story.


How would it detect blood and flesh if the accidents were as bread and wine? The flesh and blood would be of substance only(undetectable by the senses).


What does accidents mean ? do dogs have less senses than humans ?


Accidents are the qualities of a thing which are detectable by the senses. e.g colour, taste, smell.

Substance is what the thing actually is. e.g bread

According to Catholic Dogma after Transubstantiation the accidents remain as bread and wine but the substance becomes the Lord’s Blood, Body, Soul and Divinty.


Well believe me, I’ve seen dogs react to the supernatural, and don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t react to this supernatural act.

Animals have senses we have lost, their hearing is better, and I’ve even heard them cry over an impending death, how do they know, search me. :shrug:


:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

To be blunt -** if** that story is true, it undermines transubstantiation fatally. Because it can only be true if the teaching of the Church regarding transubstantiation is false.

It is a materialistic idea - unlike transubstantiation. Substance can no more be smelt than the human soul can be smelt: they are metaphysical - not physical (in the sense of being perceptible to the senses or extensions of these) entities.

It is this immaterial & metaphysical status of substances (in the sense the word bears in discussions of sacramental theology) that makes proofs of transubstantiation depending on what is perceptible to the senses (or to extensions of them, such as microscopes) impossible, & destructive of the very dogma they seek to prove.

Trying to prove a dogma is completely unChristian anyway - God has given us no proof, except His own word & Himself: so to seek for proof of dogma (which is not the same as seeking to understand how it can be true BTW) is to call God a liar :mad: Which makes being Catholic rather pointless. As the Lord says in the gospel, “It is an evil and adulterous (= apostate) generation that seeks for a sign.” (Matthew 16.4).

Substances are perceived by the intellect - not by the senses. As well might one try to bite an hypothesis or an equation, or lick the human soul, as smell the conversion of substance known as transubstantiation. What next - photographs of the virtues ? That’s no more silly than the idea that substance can be discerned by the senses. :cool:


I don’t know if the story is true or false, but I would not jump to any conclusions concerning the guard dogs if the story is true. We really don’t know how or why these search dogs might have sensed the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It may have had nothing to do with the accidents and Church teaching. This could simply be a miraculous sign given by God to point to the greater miracle of the real presence.


Similar to stories where, for example, St Anthony approached a donkey that hadn’t been fed for days, with the Blessed Sacrament in one hand and food in the other, and the donkey went on its knees before the hand that had the Blessed Sacrament in it.

I prefer to believe that animals always instinctively know their Maker, even if we who often ignore our instincts don’t always :yup:


"as smell the conversion of substance known as transubstantiation.’-Michael

consider this

A highly trained search dog (as these no doubt were highly trained) say that for example, has its smelling ability paralyzed, is it able to sense a person still? Is it by smell alone that an animal senses fear? or danger? or even emotion?

is there not an awareness of consciousness whereby humans also are able to “sense” someone is watching or present?

I contend that an animal or person has an ability to sense a person without smell, sight, or sound.

I do not defend the story because I hope it to be true, but because I believe it* could* be, and to say it couldn’t be is untrue.


Hmmmmmm…some dogs are smarter than some humans!




Fr. Tim Donahue, pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta, Ga,. was a seminarian at St. Mary’s when that incident happened and has told that story several times. He can be reached at


Security personnel, when using dogs to sweep a building, do not use dogs trained at finding humans. If they did, those dogs would have picked up on the scent of all the humans that had recently been in the chapel. Instead, they use dogs trained to find explosive devices. I’ve never heard of dogs being cross trained at finding both humans and explosives.


In the mid to late 70’s and early 80’s, I made several wonderful retreats at the now defunct Mt. Augustine on Staten Island.

The retreat house had a cat which would enter the Chapel - only for Mass - sit quietly in the sanctuary, with his (her?) eyes fixed on the altar.

When Mass was ended, the cat would leave.

The cat never came into the Chapel at any other time.


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