Saturday, 17 March 2018

St Gertrude, The Original Cat Lady

St Gertrude, the patron saint of cats.

WHAT do the Irish and crazy cat women have in common? Today is March 17, St Patrick's Day and also the feast day of St Gertrude, the patron saint of cats.

St Gertrude of Nivelles in Belgium lived from 621 to 659. Not only cats come under her patronage, she is also 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.

At the age of ten Gertrude's father attempted to marry her off to the son of a Duke. Gertrude was having none of it and loudly and angrily refused.  With the support of her mother, she fended off several marriage proposals in the following years. When her father died when she was 14, Gertrude and her mother, Itta, moved to Nivelles  to set up a monastery, where she became an abbess.

Here's a lovely charm necklace

Gertrude and her sister nuns are said to have kept lots of cats the monastery – both for companionship and to keep a very real mouse problem at bay. Gertrude was apparently renowned for being remarkably kind to them.

So while you're looking out those green clothes and knocking back the Guinness, spare a thought for the saintly Gertrude. And if you have a cat-related problem, perhaps it would be worth your while to send a sincere prayer to the original cat lady.

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  1. This is new to me although my second wife attended high school at a St. Gertrude's and her family went to a church of the same name. I had no idea who St Gertrude really was.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  2. Love this. Perhaps we should wear green cat t-shirts on March 17th. I think that's a great idea for a new tradition.

  3. Fascinating, I had never heard of this although I was aware there was a St. Gertrude.

    Talk about unknown or obscure saints, try St. Werburgh. The village where I used to live in Kent was called Hoo St. Werburg. I looked it up once but have now forgotten. Will have to google again.

  4. I cannot imagine living in her time. What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing!


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