HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
You might think a likely candidate was Saint
Francis of Assisi, but you’d be wrong. St Francis is the patron saint of
animals (including cats) but apart from being an all-round good egg when it
came to animals he had not extra special affinity for cats.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Another possibility is Saint Mary Bartholomew
Bagnesi. She lived in the 16th century and was a Dominican nun who
suffered poor health. It seems cats liked Mary, and stayed with her in her sick
room. Indeed, cats seem to be a sort of guardian angel for Mary.
least once when the cats knew Maria was hungry and hadn’t been looked after
they went and fetched cheese for her to eat.” The Catholic Herald.
Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi
But no, Mary is not the saint we are looking for: Her
area of patronage falls on the abused, the sick, and as a protector of parents.
Gertrude of Nivelles
Patron saint of cats
Rather confusingly with some rats
In truth this is a trick question because there is no ‘official’ patron saint of
cats, although St. Gertrude of Nivelles unofficially holds the honor. Gertrude
is the patron saint of travelers, gardeners, and protects against mental
illness…and rats. The latter is possibly where her associated with cats began.
Many pictures of Saint Gertrude show her with a
mouse on her staff, which is where it all gets a little confusing.
was said to protect against rats and mice, the mice shown with her in pictures
are said to represent the souls of the recently deceased in purgatory (whom she is also
patron saint of). Whichever way round things are (mice good or mice bad) it seems
Gertrude was kind to all the cats in the convent gardens, and cats were
encouraged there in order to keep the vermin population under control.
Gertrude was born in Belgium, in 626, and died aged
33, in 659. However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that she popularly became
linked to cats, so perhaps it was more wishful thinking than fact, to put right
a wrong that cats should have their own saint.