Now I am not sure theology includes such a nomenclature but I do know there are definitely Christians who claim they do not want to go to heaven if their animals, cats in particular are not there. Hmmmm, or maybe meoooow….
The title for this blog leapt or scratched its way into my mind as I studiously observed the cat at San Gimignano monastery, visited on the St. Benedict pilgrimage. Obviously, this was the monastery cat! Our group, arriving at this isolated hillock monastery in Italy, was greeted by a sleek, self confident tiger striped pussy cat. She was a she as kittens had obviously been in her not so distant past. She brushed, brushed and brushed insistently around the majority of bare legs in our group; it was hot this day. Now if the proper petting and cuddling did not immediately come forth nipping was definitely in order. Our monk led us into the church and I wondered if pussy went to services but it became obvious the processional path was not unknown to her and in fact the church seemed to be part of her domain. The monk welcoming and speaking with us competed with pussy cat for center stage finally snatching her several times into his arms. This comfortable spot from which she draped herself seemed a not unknown perch despite the insistently flapping tail indicating not complete contentment. After three ups and downs and interruptions of the talk, pussy was carried to the locked door of the interior of the monastery and deposited firmly inside. By the time our visit was finishing, pussy cat had of course reappeared outside to bid goodbye to the visitors.
Later in the afternoon, we visited Monte Oliveto cloister to view some rather extraordinary frescoes of the life of Saint Benedict. Lo and behold in one 12th century fresco, under a refectory table was not only a pussy cat but also a dog. This is actually not uncommon in painting and fresco art. My home convent’s publishing house has a perennial best seller, ‘I Will See You in Heaven’ with a dog and cat lover’s edition!
Those of you have read earlier blogs know I am a lacemaker and it seems from a photo forwarded to me by a fellow lacemaker, felines are also adept helpers at this craft. My conclusion and hope is that there are Christian cats and dogs in heaven but at the very least there are Christians there from all centuries who love these creatures of God.