17/01/2013 06:17 GMT | Updated 17/01/2013 06:46 GMT

German Shepherd Ciccio Attends Italian Church Of Santa Maria Assunta Mass Daily As He Mourns Late Owner Maria Lochi (PICTURES)

A dog whose owner died two months ago visits the church where her funeral was held every day in the hope she will return.

Ciccio, a 12-year-old German Shepherd, attends Mass at the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci, Puglia, every day.

According to Sud Italia News, the grieving hound mourns daily for Maria Lochi, his former owner who was known in the area for her love of animals.

Ciccio at the altar of the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci, Puglia

The paper says: "As a sign of gratitude, Ciccio goes to church every morning, sitting beneath the altar, near the priest.

"His hope to see his beloved Maria, the person he accompanied everywhere, even in church, moves the faithful."

It adds the parish priest "does not dare" to chase him away.

The 12-year-old hound sorely misses his former owner Maria Lochi

Father Donato Panna told the Daily Mail: ''He's there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved - he doesn't make a sound, I've not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.

'He used to come to Mass with Maria and he was obviously devoted to her - I let him stay inside as he was always so well behaved and none of the other parishoners ever complained to me."

A Facebook page for The Church in Malta features pictures of Ciccio and his story - and has been shared more than 3,500 times.

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