The hagiographies of the Saints are filled with a wide variety of interactions between humans and animals, some of which seem rather fanciful, such as the talking camel found in the legend of Saints Cosmas and Damian or the donkey who knelt before the Eucharist for Saint Anthony of Padua. Some modern people happily write off these stories as pure imagination, giving them no credence whatever. While acknowledging they are a bit strange, I've never been one to completely discount them because unusual things happen in the animal world with some frequency.
This morning I read with delight the news that a pod of dolphins returned an icon of the Mother of God off the waters of the Black Sea near the Russian city of Sochi:
Photo: ruskline.ruA colonel and his wife, relaxing and enjoying the beach atmosphere on May 17, were witnesses to the event, their attention being drawn when a group of twelve dolphins swam all the way up to the beach itself. The bewildered couple wondered what the typically smart animals were doing on the beach, when suddenly they threw something out of the water, immediately swimming off.The object was covered in mud, and seemingly completely unimportant. Though other people were lounging on the beach as well, no one paid it much attention. Eventually the colonel’s wife asked her husband to go see what the object was, and, having cleared away the mud, the colonel was shocked to find that the dolphins had delivered an icon of the Theotokos, which they later realized was of the type “of the Sign.”How the icon wound up on the ocean floor, and how the dolphins knew that it needed to be returned to shore, no one knows [more].
Strange as it might seem, a similar incident occurred just fourteen years ago, also near Sochi. Just because a story involves a seemingly bizarre incident with animals, does not mean it is not true. If dolphins rescue a icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary today, we could a donkey not genuflect before his Creator?