Thursday, January 16, 2014

Women Saints and Their Cats

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.

Julian of Norwich is also pictured with a cat.  Julian was a mystic, living as a anchoress at St. Julian's church and would give advice to people who stopped by her window to ask.

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.)

St. Gertrude of Nivelles is the patron saint of cats and cat people. Her feast is March 17, eclipsed as it is by St. Patrick in the church calendar and green-wearing, beer-drinking people in the U.S.

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.


Michele said...

i loved this post! I am a total cat person :D Thanks for posting this! :)

Staying in Balance said...

You're welcome! I thought it was so interesting that more than one female saint is pictured with cats! I need to get a medal of one of them.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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