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Blessings go to the dogs at church
Oct 20, 2013 | 1544 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE REV. LYN BRIGGS rubs Coco’s chin as she is held by owner John Besselievre., as part of the Blessing of the Beasts. 
Photo by Melinda Williams | Davis Clipper
THE REV. LYN BRIGGS rubs Coco’s chin as she is held by owner John Besselievre., as part of the Blessing of the Beasts. Photo by Melinda Williams | Davis Clipper
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BY MELINDA WILLIAMS

Clipper Staff Writer

CENTERVILLE — You might say the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection’s Blessing of the Beasts went to the dogs on Saturday.

Unlike most years, the only critters present to be blessed this year were dogs.

Notably absent was the horse Deseret Storm, who was a regular at the annual event. “Stormy,” died this past year at age 30, but his absence was noted by more than one attendee.

Still, most of the dogs were ready to be blessed and several readily wanted to have their tummies rubbed as part of the blessing.

Chuck Allison brought Bodi, short for Bodacious, and bodacious he was, strutting around and acting as if he was king of all he could see.

Then there was Stubby, a sweet, shy, 15-year-old pooch, brought by her human mom Nona Swenson, and Baci, a collie mix, who seemed to go between barking and asking to be petted.

Freckles, a regular at the event, trotted around on his leash, seeming to enjoy the attention he was getting. And Luke Skypuppy stuck close to his human family, the Petersens

As part of the service, the Rev. Lyn Briggs, the church’s rector, again read a favorite story among blessing attendees telling how Adam named the animals, beginning with the “big brown furry with teeth.” The story is one from the children’s book, “Does God Have a Big Toe: Stories About Stories in the Bible,” written by Rabbi Marc Gellman. By the way, the big brown furry with teeth eventually asks to  be named a bear.

Many churches, including the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, host blessing services in October in conjunction with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, who became known for his love of animals.  He died on Oct. 3, 1226.

St. Francis, also the patron saint of the environment, was born into a wealthy family. But it’s said that at an early age he became disillusioned with wealth.

There’s a story he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. It’s said that Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends chided him for his charity, and his father scolded him in rage.

In 1201 Francis joined a military expedition and was taken captive. Once released, he returned to his carefree life and in 1204, a serious illness led to a spiritual crisis.

In 1205 Francis left to enlist in the army of the Count of Brienne. A strange vision made him return to Assisi.

He spent time in prayer, seeking enlightenment and while in prayer in a small rundown chapel he had a vision that Jesus was telling him to “repair my house.” The young Francis took that to mean that he was to repair the chapel he was praying in, so he enlisted his friends and spent his allowance and sold some cloth from his father’s store to fund the project.

His father was again outraged and Francis was called before the bishop. The young man took off all his clothes, renouncing his father and his wealth. He then went throughout the countryside barefoot and wearing a rough garment preaching repentance.

There are many stories concerning Francis’ love of animals, some which claim he could communicate with them.

Stories abound that he preached to the birds and that fish would obey Francis.

Among the most famous stories was one in which it’s said he tamed a wolf terrorizing the people of Gubbio, Italy. He, and a few companions left the city walls to find the wolf. When Francis found it, he made the sign of the cross, and ordered it in the name of Jesus Christ not to hurt anyone. It’s said the wolf lowered its head and lay down at St. Francis’ feet, according to www.americancatholic.org.

St. Francis founded the Franciscans and the Order of nuns known as Poor Clares.

mwilliams@davisclipper.com

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