– A dog named Rambo lived up to his “action hero” name, when his barking alerted sleeping religious sisters that a chapel next to their convent was on fire.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 20, a fire destroyed the Virgen de la Candelaria Chapel in the town of Calafquen, Chile, next to the home of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters. Police suspect the fire was caused by arson.
Father Alejandro Gutiérrez is the pastor of San Sebastián Parish, which includes the chapel. The priest told Radio Bio Bio that the sisters’ house “is attached to the church. A much greater tragedy could have happened there. If the dog’s barking hadn’t alerted them, the fire would have spread to the convent and we would be grieving over a much more serious incident.”
Gutiérrez explained that the chapel was 80 years old, and the sisters there worked mainly in education.
“This just creates a new opportunity to continue serving Jesus Christ and to strengthen our faith,” he priest said.
Sources told ACI Prensa that around 3:30 in the morning, a group of masked arsonists broke a window in the rear of the Church, and threw a fire bomb inside.
Four companies of firefighters arrived on scene to fight the flames. With the help of the neighbors they were able to keep the fire from spreading to the nuns’ convent.
The Panguipulli fire chief, Rodolfo Zúñiga, told Cooperativa Radio that the electricity to the church was shut off at the junction box, so the fire was probably caused by a third party.
“Unfortunately for our town, as residents of Panguipulli, [arson] is already becoming routine. The situation is lamentable, but once again today we had one of the most beautiful chapels in the area reduced to rubble,” the fire chief said.
The Carmelite superior, Sister Maria Daniela, told Radio Bio Bio that she believes the fire was intentional, though the sisters had not received any kind of threats.
“We are women of peace. This is an oasis of peace,” the religious explained. “I never would have imagined that people would come and do something bad.”
The sister sent a message to those responsible: “you need to place yourselves in the presence of God. It’s sad to know that there are people dedicated to doing evil, because the world does not progress with evil.”
Two other churches in Panguipulli were also recently attacked and two received threats, including the town’s main church.
This article was originally published by ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.