Nice St. Gertrude of Nivelles prayer card with her beloved cat.
Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of gardeners, herbalists, pilgrims, travelers and invoked against mice, rats, fevers, and mental illness. She was unofficially crowned with the cat lady title back in the 1980’s, over 1300 years after her death.
Born in what is now Belgium in 626, Gertrude and her newly widowed mother funded and built a double Benedictine Monastery for men and women in Nivelles. Known for her kindness towards travelers, orphans and widows, she became renown for her hospitality and provided lodging at the monastery for weary pilgrims. Gertrude, while still pretty young, took on role of abbess after her mother's death.
A medieval legend states Gertrude sent a group from the monastery out on official business and she had promised they would be safe while at sea. But as luck would have it, once out in the ocean a giant sea monster presented himself and threatened the ship. Panic ensued and in desperation someone called out Gertrude’s name for help. Upon hearing her name the monster turned and retreated back into the deep. News of the tale spread and as a result in Belgium and Germany it became customary to make a toast to Gertrude prior to travel.
Gertrude was never formally canonized by the church but Pope Clement XII declared her universal feast day on March 17. Undoubtedly sharing a day with St. Patrick could result in getting a bit lost in his shadow, however if you have ever heard that you need to have your peas planted by the 17th you can thank Gertrude and not Patrick. In milder climates March happens to be the start for spring planting and Gertrude was an avid gardener, taking care of the vegetables and herbs within the monastery.
Which is possibly what brings us to mice, rats and therefore cats.
Although there is nothing officially written, quite a few stories circulate in regards to her and vermin. Some from her attempt to keep them out of her garden and monastery, and during the Black Plague she was prayed to keep rats and disease away. Naturally her patronage eventually made the inclusion to cats, they being nature’s exterminator. But why not till the 1980's you ask? In 1981 the Metropolitan Museum of Art published, 'Metropolitan Cats' which state Gretchen as being such and apparently it stuck.
My original illustration, drawn first in pen and digitally colored, printed on 80 lb. stock and finished with a nice heavy lamination. All cards are trimmed by hand (typically mine or one of my two dogs) making them truly a non mass produced item that is unique and created with care.
Card size is 2.5 x 4.5 inches.
Prayer cards are nice little reminders to take small moments out of our hectic days for reflection. Perfect to use as a bookmark, stick in a mirror, or anywhere eyes will happen upon it, and a great little thoughtful item to tuck into a card for a wee gift to mail.
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All cards can be personalized on the reverse to celebrate confirmations, baptisms, first communions, church groups, weddings or anniversaries. Minimum order of 12. There is a $20 design fee and will require a 2 or 3 week turnaround time. Please inquire for more information.
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~Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest things right, and doing all for love.~ St. Therese of Lisieux
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