Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I am taking full advantage of this snow, ice, work at home thing to browse about the net on a snowy day, extra cappuccinos in hand. Why had I not found Gerbil News before ? It is hystericalIy funny. My eyes hurt from reading too many entries. I was going to save this for a post on Saint Gertrude's Day (March 17th), but this lovely mock epyllion by Con Chapman (take that name for what it's worth...) cannot wait. Saint Gertrude is the patron saint of cats, and it was in quest of some information about her that I found The Gerbil News. I am not Catholic, but a patron saint of cats, especially one who has a mouse running up her staff in her traditional iconography, is too good to pass up. According to several blog sites, in addition to being the patron saint of cats and those who love them, Gertrude of Nivelles also looks after "gardners, travelers in search of lodging, and the recently deceased," the last of which, I suppose, are merely travellers in search of lodging in a different realm. She is invoked against "rodents, fear of mice and rats, and fever:" all sorts of reasons for this come to mind by implication, e.g. fever and diseases carried by rodents, etc., but no one seems to say why she negotiates these particulars of human existence with the one Almighty. In pictures I've found of her, she is often surrounded by mice. Not merely the mice on her staff, but rather contented looking creatures who seem to have mistaken her for their patron.

The website from which this image is taken explains that mice are christian symbols for souls in Purgatory, and this may explain it. Mice do not appear to have a patron saint of their own, but my research consists only of several search engines' first page results.

By James C. Christensen

Other images, such as the one on the left, do surround her with the furry ones themselves. Good night, all. I shall be setting up a small suitable shrine for Saint Gertrude, or thumbing through my Sylvia books and imagining what one might look like from my non-traditional and quasi-polytheistic approach religion and the numinous. But go and read "A Band of Feline Brothers."

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