Today, I am letting go of any appearance of perfectionism to write about mice. Why? . . . because my house, built in 1886, in the middle of the countryside, has mice, that’s why! Not swarming with them, but when I opened a drawer today in a buffet and found mouse turds and stolen, dry, cat food with my good cutlery. . . well, I was not pleased.
It is wonderful to be Catholic because we are connected to a whole community of friends in the Body of Christ, both the living and the dead, who are willing and able to intercede for us. So, I dug around until I uncovered just the right friend. Introducing St Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of the fear of mice (suriphobia)
My house is in good company because the humble mouse has always had a place not just in homes but in churches as well, not only literally but also figurativel. St Gertrude of Nivelles is always pictured in her monastic cell with mice, like the mice in scurrying about in this sixteenth-century Book of Hours drawing.
Legend says that Gertrude was distracted by occupying herself with weaving. She was so caught up with this that she lost track of time. Suddenly, when she glimpsed all the mice running around her monastic cell, she realized that spring had arrived and ventured outdoors to enjoy the garden.
So, she is also the is the patron saint of gardeners.
SINCE I LOVE gardening and I get completely lost when I am writing or reading, losing track of time. She really is my sort of saint.
She is also in charge of cats. and ironically I also love cats.
Of course, cats like gardens, thus some link her patronage of gardens, farmlands, and herbalists back to her patronage of cats and cat owners. The cats under St. Gertrude’s protection will help keep the mice and other vermin from the garden!
Saint Gertrude was the younger daughter of Blessed Pepin I of Landen and Blessed Ida of Nivelles; she was the sister of Saint Begga. She became devoted to religious life from an early age, and turned down a noble marriage to pursue the religious life.
On the death of Pepin in 639, with encouragment from Saint Amand of Maastricht, Ida built a double monastery at Nivelles where both she and her daughter retired. Gertrude became abbess about age 20. As a mother of nine young adults that statistic blows my mind. She became famous for her hospitality to pilgrims and to Irish missionary monks. Another similarity to my life. She gave land to Saint Foillan, where he built the monastery of Fosses and helped Saint Ultan with his evangelization.
Devotion to St Gertrude or “Gertrude of Nivelles”, quickly spread to Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and France. People venerated her shortly after her death in 659. This fact is fascinating: at her shrine in Cologne, Germany, gold and silver mice were given as offerings till 1822!
I love the comic aspect to the artwork depicting St. Gertrude of Nivelles; she is pictured as a woman holding a large mouse, an abbess with mice at her feet, an abbess with mice running up her cloak, an abbess with mice running up her crosier or pastoral staff, a woman holding a distaff, a woman spinning, or a woman with a cat or cats nearby.Whenever I think of St. Gertrude, I smile and feel a warm connection to her. I know she is praying for me and in fact likes me as much as I like her.
The Joy of Mothering
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