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.

March 12, 2014

March 12, 604 AD

Pope Gregory I gained the highest title in the earthly Catholic hierarchy in 590 and his life and reign were so reverently recalled that after his death on March 12, 604, he eventually was recognised as a saint. Less well-known is the validity of stories that he had a cat. Or had been rich. We know though that doves talked to him.

Here is an account, 
William Hone included in his 1826, almanac publication: The Every Day Book, Or, A Guide to the Year: Describing the Popular Amusements Sports, Ceremonies, Manners Customs & Events Incident to the Three Hundred & Sixty-five Days, in Past & Present Times:

After St. Gregory's death there was a hermit, who had left all his goods, and left the world, and kept nothing but his cat, and this cat he used to play with, and hold in his lap tenderly: one day he prayed that it might be revealed to him, to the joy of what saint he should here after come; then St. Gregory was revealed to him, and that he should come to his joy; wherefore the hermit sighed, and disliked his poverty, because St. Gregory had possessed so much earthly riches :*and in revelation it was commanded him to be quiet, because he had more pleasure in stroking and playing with his cat, than St. Gregory had in all his riches. Then the hermit prayed that he might have the like merit and reward with St. Gregory ; and in this story, lieth great moral.

Hone also says: 
"....painters came to represent St. Gregory, with a dove at his ear, to signify that the Holy Ghost inspired and dictated what he writ." Hence my joke about doves. I know-- since doves talk to everybody that hardly seems special.

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