Patron Saint of Cats and Gardeners: St. Gertrude, O.S.B. (626-659 CE). The Collegial Church of St. Gertrude, c. 1050, in Nivelles, Belgium. (2 Photos).

The Collegial Church of St. Gertrude, c. 1050, Nivelles, Belgium.

Photographs are taken by the author on March 1, 1992.

St. Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of cats!

St. Gertrude (d. 659) was the daughter of Blessed Pepin and Blessed Ita who had founded Nivelles monastery. Gertrude was born in Landen, Belgium in Flanders on the boundary of Wallonia. In addition to being the patron of cats and gardeners, St. Gertrude was an early medieval patron of travelers. Indeed, from her birthplace of Landen to Nivelles, Belgium, is, at around 40 miles, a distance of about one day on foot.

St. Gertrude was superior of the monastery her parents established and, though a young abbess, Gertrude was known for her wise rule. St. Gertrude died at a young age on account of her personal austerities.

The impressive appearance of the westwork of the Collegial Church of St Gertrude in Nivelles is the result of a reconstruction finished in 1984 following the severe damage it sustained during World War II by the bombing from the German Luftwaffe in May 1940.

The church was built in the 11th century to serve a Benedictine abbey of cloistered nuns whose first abbess was St. Gertrude of Nivelles. This dramatic church is classified a major European Heritage site and remains one of the finest examples of the Romanesque style in Belgium. Its Romanesque crypt is one of the largest of its kind in Europe where tombs of the Merovingian (5th-7th centuries) and Carolingian (7th-9th centuries) periods have been found.

Nivelles, Belgium. Interior, Minster (Collegiate Church of St. Gertrude), c. 1050. 3/1992


Another image of St. Gertrude of Nivelles. Her feast day is March 17—the same as Ireland’s St. Patrick.

In addition to being the patron saint of cats, St. Gertrude of Nivelles is also the patron saint of gardeners and travellers.

St. Gertrude de Nivelles, from the Hours of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg (1490-1545), Archbishop and Elector of Mainz, c. 1522. Opaque water-based paint mounted on board by Flemish artist Simon Bening (c.1484-1561). Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

SOURCE: The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, edited by John Coulson, Guild Press, New York, 1957.

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