Today, we celebrate Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, the patron saint of cats and cat lovers. Gertrude also protects homes from mice and other rodents. She also serves as a chaperone for people who pass away. Saint Gertrude accompanies the dearly departed on their trip to Heaven.
Saint Gertrude’s Feast Day is March 17th, the same asSaint Patrick’s. Celebrations of Saint Gertrude are perhaps overshadowed by Saint Patrick’s Day festivities. That doesn’t stop the loyal Saint Gertrude fans from commemorating her Feast Day.
Saint Gertrude’s shrine is in Cologne, Germany. People bring gold and silver mice figurines to leave at her resting place. Again, the curious rationale is that Saint Gertrude helps people get to Heaven, especially those who may have a long journey to get there. According to the Rules of Catholicism, those who have done some sinning and then die have to wait to get to Heaven and they wind up in a place called Purgatory. Saint Gertrude is the saint you check in with who shortens your visit there. ThenArchangel Michaelcomes to get you and brings you to Saint Peter at the Gates to Heaven.
In Belgium, when people are visiting a local tavern and have not yet finished their drink, they can ask for a “Saint Gertrude’s Cup,” to take their drink with them upon departure to the next bar or restaurant. On Bourbon Street in New Orleans the cup is simply called a “Go Cup.” Maybe Gertrude’s name had been shortened to “Go” at some point over the last hundreds of years. The tourists in New Orleans are quite happy to find themselves at “Pat O’s” Bar onSaint PeterStreet and then take their Go Cups to venture through the French Quarter.