St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Franklin held its 22nd annual Blessing of the Animals Sunday, a practice that gives nod to the fact “that animals are becoming recognized for their intrinsic value in the web of life.”

“I believe our love bonds with animals are deeply spiritual and that is why Blessings like this one mean so much to people,” Laura Turner, member of the church and organizer of the event, told attendees. “We want animals included in our spiritual journeys as well as our physical and emotional ones.”

Turner, who is animal welfare advocate & educator for the nonprofit Tennessee Volunteers for Animal Protection, spoke of the influence of St. Francis. He is generally recognized as the first animal advocate.

“He was a simple man full of profound ideas,” Turner said in her address during the Blessing.  “He believed God is everywhere and that God was the Father of all.  To him, it followed that everything God created was related and he called all creatures and creation his brothers and sisters.

“Animals are the angels among us,” Turner added. “They practice unconditional love. Their language is universal.  We are the better for learning it.”

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