Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Loves CatsPublished March 6, 2013
Pope Emeritus Benedict has always been a passionate cat lover. And while he was able to watch the clowder of kitties who freely roam the streets in Vatican City and Castle Gandolfo, sadly he could not have a kitty because no pets are permitted to live in the Papal residence in Vatican City.
On February 11, Pope Benedict XVI made the stunning announcement that since he no longer had the emotional or physical strength to lead the Roman Catholic Church, he was resigning. While Pope Emeritus Benedict is waiting for a permanent residence made ready for him at Mater Ecclesiae, a former monastery inside Vatican City, he will be staying at Castel Gandolfo, where in the garden kitties abound. Additionally with lots of cats living in the vicinity of Mater Ecclesiae, Pope Emeritus Benedict will have many feline friends with which to play.
Castel Gandolfo is a small town with a population of around 8,834. The town is located approximately 15 miles southeast of Rome and Lazio. The resort community is well known for being the summer residence and occasional vacation retreat for the pope.
Apparently there are several connections that link cats, Castel Gandolfo, and Catholic Popes. According to an item in USA Today, there exists a 1958 comic book titled "The Cat from Castelgandolfo" in the Catholic University’s archives. It features a story about a fictitious cat who enjoyed the company of Pope Pius XI.
And in his 2011 book, "My Brother, the Pope", author Reverend Georg Ratzinger wrote about Joseph, who became Pope Benedict XI. Reverend Georg Ratzinger painted Joseph as "very tenderhearted; he loves animals and flowers." In fact, a neighbor’s cat visited Reverend Joseph Ratzinger daily when he was a theology professor in Tubingen; a town in Bavaria.
Reverend Georg further described the tender relationship between his brother and his charming feline companion, writing, "It even accompanied him to his lectures and to Mass. It was a black cat, a very intelligent pussycat,"
In 2005, MSNBC was told by Reverend Georg Ratzinger's housekeeper that Chico, the Pope's personal cat was being cared for by the person who oversees the Pope's private residence in Germany. She also said that Chico is often visited by another neighborhood kitty.
But there’s happy mews in store for Chico! There are two pet friendly hotels in Castel Gandolfo, where Chico will be more than welcome, just in case Georg wants to bring his brother’s kitty for a visit.
Since being in the presence of a cat brings good cheer, is relaxing and also lowers blood pressure, I heartily recommend that the Vatican considers changing the “no-pet” law to “cats allowed.”
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