Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

I wish I had known about Saint Gertrude of Nivelles in Belgium (626-659) last week. It is National Women’s History Month and Saint Gertrude with her cats could have shared the stage with St. Patrick and his snakes on March 17.

At the age of 10 Gertrude stated she would have no other bridegroom but Christ. In 639, after her father died, her mother established a double monastery, one for men and one for women at Nivelles.  She made the very young Gertrude abbess,  and lived as a nun in the abbey, where she could give Gertrude the benefit of her advice.

As you might guess from this painting, Saint Gertrude is the patron of cats – and those who love them.  Perhaps she allowed her nuns the companionship of cats.  Also, water from her well, and bread baked with that water was said to repel rodents – and later many prayed to Saint Gertrude to protect them from mice and rats. St. Patrick is sometimes shown with the snakes he sent from Ireland; St. Gertrude is sometimes shown with mice running up her staff. That doesn’t sound repellent, but  . . . .

She is also the patron of the insane and of gardeners.  Maybe she is particularly sympathetic to insane gardeners, of whom I know quite a few.  Alas, her reliquary was destroyed in 1940

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lisa at Greenbow

    I have never heard of this saint. I got tickled when I read “insane gardeners”. I know she is looking out for me. tee hee.

  2. Leslie

    I love the combination also!

  3. Frances

    Thanks, Pat! As a cat owner, and slightly irregular gardener, St. GErtrude would feel right at home here. I need some of that water, do you suppose it would work on voles? 🙂

  4. Carol

    I don’t have any cats, but I do know some insane gardeners who could use a patron saint watching out for them.

  5. I thought St. Fiacre was the patron saint of gardeners. But I like the idea of a patron saint of insane gardeners (I fall into that category). Do you think the water works on squirrels?

  6. Gail

    Now here’s a saint that speaks to me;) Thank you Pat~gail

  7. Cindy, MCOK

    This insane gardener is looking forward to your visit!

  8. Fascinating Pat. I wonder how her reliquary was destroyed. I’ll go do a bit of research. Thanks for this.~~Dee

  9. Rebecca

    I’m a gardener, I have five cats and at times I’m fairly sure I’m insane! I’m not really into statues in my garden, but I would love to have one of her watching over my plants and cats!

  10. Marl

    Cats have always been around my gardens for years, and I have a cat story book also.

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