Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day

There’s an important kitty holiday coming up! March 17th is Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day. If you’re not sure who Saint Gertrude is, she is Fluffy’s patron saint. A local veterinarian goes over some basics of her story below.


Gertrude of Nivelles lived from 628 to 658 in what we now know as Belgium. She was born into a wealthy and powerful family. When she was ten, her father invited the king to a banquet. At this feast, the king asked Gertrude if she would marry an archduke. In what was at the time an extremely brave and unusual reply, Gertrude flat-out refused. She never did marry. Years later, she and her mother went on to found the Abbey of Nivelles, which still stands today.


There are two separate miracles attributed to Gertrude. Did she actually manage to get cats to listen to her? No. Did kitties travel for miles to sleep in her lap? That’s not it, either.  Is the Abbey of Nivelles overflowing with cats? It doesn’t seem to be, though one would hope that at least a few lucky kitties live there.

Actually, the first miracle was a vision of a flaming golden sphere. The second is a bit more dramatic. Apparently, a sailor who was battling a fierce storm and a sea monster at once called out to Gertrude, who had a vision of it. After Gertrude’s name was invoked, both the storm and the monster went away. It’s safe to say that the sailor’s day probably improved considerably at that point. This tale became so well-known that it led to the creation of a special drink, which is called the Gertrudenminte or Sinte Geerts Minne. Travelers imbibed if before setting off. This also led to Gertrude being named the patron saint of travelers.

But What About Fluffy?

So where are the kitties in Gertrude’s story? That’s where things get a bit fuzzy. There actually are no cats mentioned in the historical records. References to Gertrude being a patron of cats seems to have started long ago … in the 1980’s. There are some references of Gertude being associated with cats and mouse hunters in the older texts. However, there also is the possibility that she somehow got mixed up with Frigg, a Nordic goddess who was said to have chosen a great cat for her trusty steed. 

In any case, the cat seems to have someone’s tongue on this one!

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us, your local veterinary clinic, today!

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