Today I realized that there are at least 3 female saints who are traditionally pictured with cats. I love this idea. I think cats lend themselves to both company and contemplation.
We cat people are in good company.
Our first saint is Saint Claire of Assisi. She was one of the first followers of St. Francis, who, of course, is the patron saint of animals. St. Claire founded the Poor Ladies or Poor Claires, a monastic order for women.
A legend tells us that Claire was often ill, but insisted on doing her share of the work. One day, the bolt of cloth she was working with rolled away from her bed, too far for her to reach. The monastery cat got it for her. Although I've had a few cats who might take it upon themselves to do something like this, my current cat is not nearly this helpful!
You can purchase the icon (left) and read more about St. Claire here.
She was the first woman to write a book in English, entitled The Revelation of Divine Love. (Click on the hotlink to read for free online.) She wrote of God's love and mercy that was His whole being during a time in the Church and in society when God was seen as sometimes vengeful and angry. She is pictured with her cat, her only companion after voluntarily confining herself to her monastic cell.
To find out more information about Julian of Norwich, check out The Friends of Julian of Norwich where you will find information and items to purchase (including the icon to the right, which, sadly, seems to be out of stock.)
Gertrude was born in Belgium in 626, and died 33 years later in Nivelles. She was known for her hospitality and generosity to Irish missionary monks, so it is appropriate that she died on March 17, a day when gardeners see good weather as a sign to begin planting.
She is also the patron saint of travelers and those afraid of mice. She is often pictured with cats or with mice.