Catholic Cats

This post is for the cat-lovers amongst you dear readers. (Anyone who does not immediately want to scoop up these adorable fur balls and take them home should stop reading now.)

Catholic Cats

Besides having an affinity for cats and kittens, you know that I am a big fan of the “Middle Ages” as well. Can you guess what’s coming? YES! Medieval cats!!!

First, I have something for you to read. (Second, I will have a link for you to click on, but wait just a minute…) Have you ever seen this translation (from the old Irish, done by Robin Flower) of a medieval Irish poem a monk composed about his cat, Pangur Bán?

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Bán, my cat

‘Tis a like task we are at;

Hunting mice is his delight

Hunting words I sit all night.


Better far than praise of men

‘Tis to sit with book and pen;

Pangur bears me no ill will,

He too plies his simple skill.


‘Tis a merry thing to see

At our tasks how glad are we,

When at home we sit and find

Entertainment to our mind.


Oftentimes a mouse will stray

In the hero Pangur’s way:

Oftentimes my keen thought set

Takes a meaning in its net.


‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye

Full and fierce and sharp and sly;

‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I

All my little wisdom try.


When a mouse darts from its den,

O how glad is Pangur then!

O what gladness do I prove

When I solve the doubts I love!


So in peace our tasks we ply,

Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;

In our arts we find our bliss,

I have mine and he has his.


Practice every day has made

Pangur perfect in his trade;

I get wisdom day and night

Turning darkness into light.


Isn’t that just lovely? I was reminded of it when I found this hilarious post about attitudes toward medieval cats over at Fish Eaters. Check it out to find:

  • a charming (and unintentionally-funny) description of cats by a monk who wrote an encyclopedia in the 1200s
  • French old wives’ tales about cats predicting the weather
  • photos of two pages of a monastery’s manuscript with cat prints on them
  • a photo of the original manuscript containing the poem Pangur Ban.

(Okay, dog-, bird-, fish-, and reptile-lovers–now we can go back to our regularly-scheduled programming!)


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