Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cats in Art: St. Gertrude, Patron Saint of Cats

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. 

The image below is not directly from Zuffi but rather was suggested to me as a spin-off of my Catholic Saints pieces of a couple weeks ago, here and here.

Turns out that, yes, there is a Patron Saint of Cats, one St. Gertrude.

Image credit Catster, St. Gertrude of Nivelles (Belgium), stained glass window in the Belgian province of Limburg [ed. note: sorry, was unable to uncover any more information than that, such as the church, size of the window, etc.

Please look carefully at the kitties at St. Gertrude's feet, which might at first glance be mistaken for rats, heaven forbid!

It is from Catster that we learn:

Why, pray tell, would Catster readers be interested in St. Gertrude? March is Women’s History Month, and Gertrude is a strong historical figure. She’s the patron saint of gardeners, travelers, widows, recently deceased people, the sick, the poor, the mentally ill, and travelers in search of lodging. People call upon Gertrude for protection from mice and rats, fever, insanity, and mental illness. However, cat lovers revere Gertrude of Nivelles most of all. After all, gentle Gertrude is the patron saint of cats and cat lovers. Who says saints aren’t cool?

And from another site, another cool image of our newly favorite saint:

Image credit here, but the link tells us nothing about from whence this very cool image came.  Nevertheless, we learn some more details about St. Gertrude:

Gertrude of Nivelles, also known as the patron saint of cats, who may have – the legend is a little vague — led an army of kitties into battle to protect the abbey, which was overrun with rats.
Gertrude shares a feast day with St. Patrick, but I had never heard about her.  So, who was this Gertrude? According to the stories, she was born in 629 in Belgium. Her father died when she was 14, and her mother built “his and her” monasteries at Nivelles, which mother and daughter joined. Gertrude later became the abbess.
After more research, I also must report she’s never been canonized officially — one more reason I can’t help feeling our pets, especially the cats, have received short shrift from organized religion.
Of course, the cats can always fall back on St. Francis of Assisi, but perhaps Pope Francis, who seems to be on board with all God’s creatures, might throw Gertrude’s canonization on his to-do list.

Pope Francis better get on this, pronto.  Otherwise all his refreshingly good thoughts and actions may be for naught.

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