"St. Francis preaching to the birds" attributed to Giotto (1295-1300. Fresco. St. Francis, Upper Church, Assisi, Italy)
"Every time he met a cat, he would talk to it, sometimes for a long time," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Benedict XVI, reports the Daily Telegraph (special thanks to frequent commenter and catpoet Dr. Hull for the heads up):
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the Pope's image as a German "panzerkardinal" was unfair. "He is human and he will convince you," he said. "He is both a man of science and of faith. He possesses a great sense of humanity, he loves nature and music."
The same churchman said that Cardinal Ratzinger was a cat lover. "Every time he met a cat, he would talk to it, sometimes for a long time. The cat would follow him. Once about 10 cats followed him into the Vatican, and one of the Swiss Guards intervened, saying 'Look, your eminence, the cats are invading the Holy See.'"
"He loves to debate with you, not only about theology," the bishop [of Munich] said. "He plays Mozart on the piano before he goes to bed at night."
A Google search of "joseph ratzinger loves cats" brings up our blog in the number two spot. That was before we even knew that Pope Benedict XVI is an ailurophile. Google combined two unrelated bits: "Joseph Ratzinger" in the body copy of one of our posts plus "I particularly love the cat blogs," a testimonial in our Kudos list. Is it one of those "miracles and wonders" Peggy Noonan spoke of yesterday?
Loving it, we Googled for more (see surprise results of a search for "joseph ratzinger loves cats" in caption above). From the caretaker of the pope's house in Regensburg, Germany in the NYT:
The house -- built in the 1970's style on a quiet street with a walled garden -- has the feel of an oasis. A bronze sculpture of the Virgin Mary gazes over beds of roses and daffodils, while a statue of a cat stands next to a sliding-glass door. The pope, Mr. Hofbauer said, adores cats.
And from The Kansas City Star:
His most heartfelt talks may have been the ones he gave after celebrating Mass. "I went with him once," said Konrad Baumgartner, the head of the theology department at Regensburg University. "Afterwards, he went into the old cemetery behind the church.
"It was full of cats, and when he went out, they all ran to him. They knew him and loved him. He stood there, petting some and talking to them, for quite a long time. He visited the cats whenever he visited the church. His love for cats is quite famous.
[His housekeeper] pointed up a staircase to a wall full of painted plates, each depicting a different cat. The brothers collected the plates together, she said.
"When we were on vacation, a cat, a little kitten, would come by, and he'd be giddy, almost giggling with joy," she said. "Cats love him; they always go to him straight away. And he loves them back."
He doesn't have a cat, however. Heindl doesn't think he can have one living in the Vatican.
He loves cats, he plays Mozart on the piano before he goes to bed at night and the dictatorial relativist Left is apoplectic. Hallelujah!