Either way, even pet lovers have patron saints!
By Pedro A. Moreno, O.P.
Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry
While our pets can misbehave, they never can offend God because they are incapable of sin. Their presence praises God. “All water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever” (NABRE, Daniel 3, 79-81).
We were given a responsibility for the care of all creation, including the animals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls us to care for and respect all of creation, including all of the animals that roam about. Here are some excerpts from the Catechism for pet lovers taken from paragraphs 2416 and 2417:
“Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus, men owe them kindness. God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure.”
It’s important to remember that these little creatures are part of the Lord’s creation, a gift from God, and we can have love and affection for them as long as we don’t get carried away and begin to value their lives above the lives of our human brothers and sisters.
The month of November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, yes, the senior ones that are beyond chewing your shoes and scratching up everything in the house. I applaud those families that welcome these furry little creatures in their homes, cats or dogs. But, for those difficult times, when they do become mischievous, who are the patron saints for cats and dogs who can join us in reaching out to the Lord when we need help? Well, here they are:
Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, O.S.B.
Patron saint of cats
Her biography begins when she was 10. The king came to a feast at her home and he asked if she would like to marry the son of a nobleman. She said “No.” The young lady was offended and, in a not so polite way, she adamantly stated that she would have neither him nor any earthly spouse but Christ the Lord. That is a young disciple in love with Christ!
Later in life she made good on her promise and not only entered religious life, but founded a monastery and became abbess. Her life was filled with charity to those in need. Her connection to cats is attributed to a mice infestation of her convent’s grain silo. She prayed and the next day – no mice. So, those around her concluded that anyone who can get rid of mice must be a friend of cats.
Patron saint of dogs
He was born in France, in the town of Montpellier. When he was about 20 his parents died. He distributed all his riches among the poor and became a beggar and a pilgrim on his way to Rome to visit the Holy City. While in Italy, a plague spread and he fell ill. He was expelled from the town that he was in and went into the forest, and lived in nature. His survival is due to a miraculous spring that appeared and a dog that supplied him with his daily bread. The dog also licked his wounds and healed him.
He returned to the town of his birth where he was falsely charged and arrested. He was sent to prison. He died there and has been invoked in times of illness, false imprisonment and especially by dog lovers.
If you prefer neither cats nor dogs, and instead prefer birds or a fish tank, then your patron saint is Francis of Assisi. Either way, we should celebrate our beloved animals and see them as a loving gift from God. If you don’t have a furry friend, maybe you would consider adopting a senior pet during November.