The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 9, 2013

August 9, 1845

The situation of the French in Canada, and the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, may involve complexities of which I am unaware. These entities are factors in this story about Andre Bessette. (August 9, 1845 to January 6, 1937). 

Bessette's parents were poor, and died when he was twelve. As a young man he became a lay brother with a Montreal Catholic organization (1872). There his job was as a porter at a Catholic school. He gained during his life a reputation as a healer; he always gave the credit to Catholic saints. His reputation grew to the point he was a controversial figure, according to wikipedia. (Let the reader beware). Parents of children at the school objected to the threat of contaigion the sick people visiting the doorman presented.

After his death the reports of miraculous healings continued. Bessette was described as venerable in 1978, and beatified in 1982. He was canonized in 2010.

A silly book gives us a glimpse of a cat in St. Andre Bessette's life. At some point he mentioned seeing a "large black cat." I don't know the context in which this was mentioned, but in Canada there are fewer stray cats because the winters are harsher: fewer stray cats survive. One may have sought a warm shelter in the school; I don't know. So it may have been something to comment upon, seeing a black cat. But that is not how the author of the oddly titled: A Treatise on Human Nature: Christian Saints, Historical Figures, and the Ufo Phenomenon (2010) treats this comment. To Robert Iturralde the sight of the cat is evidence of a UFO. Now people who treat religious accounts as evidence of UFO's, and it is a common procedure, typically fail to understand the complexities of human perception, and the logic in historical arguments.  The author says:

Brother Andre Bessette (1845-1937) of Montreal reported an alien being that appeared in the form of a large black cat.

First off, we know the author is misstating the case. "Alien" did not mean before the 1940s what it did afterwards. So the best case here is that you have a stupid person misquoting a perhaps simple-minded person.

Why would this happen? So far as I can tell these people who subvert pictures and accounts of religious situations are concerned to declare themselves in line with the ordinary scientific rejection of theism while at the same time they are eager to reclaim some real estate from theology. They think an explanation of beings smarter than the earth's population has some explanatory value. Even scientists carry on about ET's. Such a narrative ignores the fact you still have to encounter the issue of "origins." Now the ontological mystery is moved to another planet but the person interesting in understanding his world appreciates that UFOs just add an unnecessary layer of complexity to a philosophical reality. 

And if you are curious about St. Andre Bessette, here is detailed account .If you can read between the lines it says a good bit. 

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