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Saint Gertrude Of Nivelles Day— Patron Saint Of Cats

Saint Gertrude Of Nivelles Day

Every year on March 17th, cat lovers and devout Christians around the world celebrate Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day, paying homage to the patron saint of cats.

This special day for cats holds a special significance, not only for feline enthusiasts but also for those who admire the compassion and dedication exemplified by this remarkable saint.

Let’s delve into the introduction, history, importance, fun facts, and ways to celebrate Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day.


Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, born in 626 AD in what is now Belgium, was a devout Christian known for her piety, compassion, and dedication to serving others.

From a young age, she displayed a deep love for animals, particularly cats, whom she cared for and treated with kindness.

Throughout her life, Gertrude demonstrated unwavering devotion to her faith, eventually becoming abbess of the Abbey of Nivelles.

History of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day

Saint Gertrude Of Nivelles Day

St. Gertrude of Nivelles’ patronage was never formally recognized by the Vatican, but her reputation for whisking away mice and rats earned her the affection of cat lovers worldwide.

Although modern depictions often portray her as the patron saint of cats, there’s much more to her story than just being labeled the “cat lady” of the Catholic church.

Born in the city of Nivelles in 626 AD, which is present-day Belgium, St. Gertrude was the youngest of four children.

Despite societal expectations for her to follow her sister Pepin’s path of arranged marriage, Gertrude, devoted to her faith, broke free from convention with her mother’s support.

She established a female-only monastery where she dedicated herself to her religious calling until she felt compelled to serve those in need beyond its walls.

The association between St. Gertrude and cats likely originated from the feline’s instinct to hunt rodents.

As she served her community, Gertrude was often called upon to ward off illness and rodent infestations.

Her reputation for dispelling disease-ridden pests led to her canonization after her death at the age of 33 on March 17.

Numerous churches were erected in her honour, and tales of miraculous events attributed to her abound.

In commemoration of her life and contributions, many Catholics celebrate St. Gertrude’s feast day on March 17, coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day.

Additionally, Nivelles hosts Le Tour Sainte-Gertrude each fall, a citywide parade attracting pilgrims from far and wide.

The festivities include a mass dedicated to St. Gertrude, honouring her enduring legacy.

So, as you deck yourself in green attire for the festive St. Patrick’s Day, don’t forget to give your furry companion an extra pat in tribute to our beloved “cat lady.”

St. Gertrude of Nivelles may not have been officially declared the patron saint of cats, but her compassionate spirit and legendary deeds continue to resonate with cat lovers everywhere.

Importance of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day

Saint Gertrude Of Nivelles Day

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles holds importance for both religious and cultural reasons.

As a saint recognized by the Catholic Church, she serves as a role model for compassion, humility, and devotion to God.

Her association with cats resonates with animal lovers, who view her as a protector and advocate for these beloved pets.

Additionally, Saint Gertrude’s Day provides an opportunity for communities to come together in celebration and reflection.

Fun Facts:

  1. Cat Lover’s Patron Saint: Saint Gertrude’s affinity for cats has led to her being affectionately known as the patron saint of cats.

    In artwork and iconography, she is often depicted with cats by her side or at her feet.
  2. Symbols: Saint Gertrude is typically depicted holding a rod with a mouse at its end, symbolizing her role in protecting against mice and rats.

    This imagery further emphasizes her connection to animals, particularly cats’ behaviour.
  3. Cat Blessings: In some traditions, Saint Gertrude’s Day is celebrated by blessing cats with holy water, invoking her protection and blessing upon these beloved pets.
  4. Cat-Themed Festivities: In certain communities, Saint Gertrude’s Day is celebrated with cat-themed events, such as cat parades, costume contests, and charity fundraisers benefiting animal shelters.

How to Celebrate?

Saint Gertrude Of Nivelles Day

Here are the ways to celebrate

Attend Church Services

Many churches hold special services or Masses in honour of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day.

Attendees can participate in prayers and hymns dedicated to the saint, reflecting on her life and teachings.

Donate to Animal Shelters

In the spirit of Saint Gertrude’s compassion for animals, consider donating time, money, or supplies to local animal shelters or rescue organizations.

Help support efforts to care for and find homes for cats in need.

Host a Cat-Themed Gathering

Gather friends and fellow cat enthusiasts for a cat-themed celebration. Decorate with cat motifs, serve cat-shaped treats, and share stories of beloved feline companions.

Blessing of Cats

If your local church offers blessings for pets, bring your cat to receive a special blessing in honour of Saint Gertrude.

Alternatively, perform a simple blessing ceremony at home, offering prayers for your cat’s well-being and happiness.


Volunteer your time at animal sanctuaries or participate in community outreach programs focused on animal welfare.

Use Saint Gertrude’s Day as an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of cats and other animals.

In conclusion

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles Day provides a meaningful occasion to honor the patron saint of cats and celebrate the bond between humans and their feline companions.

Whether through acts of charity, attending church services, or simply spending quality time with beloved pets, individuals can commemorate this special day in ways that reflect Saint Gertrude’s legacy of compassion and devotion.

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