by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
March 17th is commonly regarded as St Patrick’s Day, it is also St Gertrude’s Day. Saint Gertrude of Nivelles is the patron saint of cats. There are many figures in other religions, ancient gods and mythology that keep a watchful eye on our cat and other animals; this is merely a quick peek into some of the saints from the catholic religions.
Born in 629 in Belgium, she and her mother Itta moved to Nivelles after the death of her father. Itta set up a monastery of which she was abbess. Gertrude was know for her hospitality, and was originally the patron saint of travellers, gardeners and the mentally ill, and rodents. The monastery kept cats to control the rodents; people prayed to St Gertrude to keep mice and rats away. Much later, after her death, her association with mice led people to believe she was a cat-lover, and bestowed upon her the honour of the patron saint of cats.
St. Philip Neri, known as the Apostle of Rome, was a 16th century saint who has a connection to cats, since it is said that he traveled the streets of Rome with his pet cat in a basket. May 26th is the day he is celebrated.
St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology, was born in Italy around 1181 or 1182. Originally known for his devotion to all God’s Creatures, in 1979, Pope John Paul II paid tribute to Francis’ love for creation by declaring him the patron saint of ecologists. St Francis of Assisi is celebrated on 4th October each year.
There is also the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats, although it was under the patronage of St Helena that the cats were taken to Crete – Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats
St. Felix of Nola is the patron saint who finds and returns lost animals. His feast day is January 14th.
St Anthony of Padua, celebrated on June 13th, is the patron saint of lost and stolen articles.
St Anthony of Egypt was known to be kind to animals and not to eat meat. His day is celebrated on 17th January.
Two other saints that are important to all animal owners and lovers are St Blaise and St Eligius (also known as St Eloi), as these are the patron saints of veterinarians. St Blaise was a healer and was referred to as the Saint of the Wild Beast as well as those suffering from sore throats. He is celebrated on 3rd February.
Saint Eligius (or Eloi), celebrated on 1st December, is the patron saint of goldsmiths, other metalworkers, and coin collectors as well as veterinarians, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, but he is best known for being the patron saint of horses and those who work with them.
St Jerome is not a direct patron of animals; however he did help a lion by removing a thorn from his foot, for which assistance the lion stayed with him for the rest of his life. His saints day is 30th September.