Calling our cat Benedict was like calling a tall chap Shorty. Would he have grown more angelic if we had called him Lucifer?
Benedict as a kitten
The kittens were born in the pitch black in our neighbours’ tackroom. Soon afterwards I went in with a torch and the first thing I saw was a white cross, luminous in the dark. As I am not of a religious disposition Varanges did not become a shrine for pilgrimage, but we did call the kitten with the cross Benedict, after the Pope.
It seemed a suitable name as Benedict was always the leader of the gang. But he was also the naughtiest, the only one to try and scavenge leftovers if we were slow to clear away after a meal.
His name caused no end of confusion as he is male and Bendict becomes Benoît in French. Bénédicte is a girls name. Our lovely lady vet Bénédicte says he is called after her. (We did manage to get reduced rates once but only because all five were there at the same time!).
Since Pope Benedict resigned last week I have realised just how unpopular a name it is. Apparently the most infamous traitor in the US was called Benedict Arnold. He swopped sides during the War of Independence and his name is synonymous with betrayal, like Judas. But, as Benjamin Franklin commented, “Judas sold one man, Arnold three millions”.
Benedict at breakfast this morning
So besides the Pope there are no glamourous role models for our Benedict. He continues to be the troublemaker in our normally peaceful existence. Shouting his usual name Oy!Benedict! has no effect; the only deterrent from his errant ways is the occasional spray of water. But he is probably our most interesting cat.
Taizé is deserted. No-one is to be seen except for a permanent who knits while she minds the shop. The Community of Taizé has gone to Rome for the annual European meeting.
Pope Benedict will lead the prayer in St Peter’s Square on Saturday. More people than ever are going this year so he is making an appeal for accommodation. It sounds as if some of the pilgrims will be lucky to find even a stable.
The African nativity scene
Outside the Church of Reconciliation at Taizé is the most wonderful nativity scene. It’s African this year, to mirror the recent meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, the pilgrimage of trust first proposed by Brother Roger.
- The three Kings
...and one of the shepherds with his Calvin Kleins
As there was nobody around it seemed a good time to look around the Romanesque church of Taizé. This is where the Community started, before the Church of Reconciliation was built fifty years ago. Around two sides of the church is a graveyard. We marvelled at the simplicity of the graves of the brothers; no marble for them, just simple wooden crosses.
The Church at Taizé and the graves of the brothers.
It is the season of goodwill for our cats too. Since the disappearance of Blanche and Claude, Smudge hasn’t tolerated being the sole recipient of Benedict’s affections. But as I write, just for a little while, peace!
Smudge & Benedict
I’ve told the story before, of how one winter I started to feed a starving kitten who went on to have kittens of her own which we adopted. www.cormatin.eu/blog/?tag=kittens&paged=2
White Cat was a wonderful mother
The kittens grew into lovely cats, all different in appearance and behaviour. Smudge lives up to her name as she is usually oilstained. Blanche was a pretty cat who teamed up with Benedict on hunting expeditions.
Benedict and Blanche
Claude was a special cat. He must have had Siamese ancestry because he would have singsong conversations and could howl like a Banshee. He often brought his prey unharmed into the house so we were forever rescuing mice. Giant grasshoppers would take refuge in the curtains.
Claude had fur like silk and was long and lanky. He is the only cat I’ve seen lie on his back with his head face up between his back legs.
We thought we would have our family of cats forever but on the morning of 1st November, the Toussaint holiday, Blanche and Claude didn’t come home. We searched the village and even walked around in the dead of night to see if we could hear Claude. One morning Chris took all the manhole covers up to search the drains.
A couple of days later a neighbour said he had passed a white cat dead by the road. We suppose this was Blanche although there are other white cats around. But there has been no sign of Claude.
Meanwhile Benedict still looks for the others. We have nothing much to show they were ever here. Except the prints of Blanche’s nose where she used to look out of the window. And empty chairs.
We have always resisted having pets despite our friends’ best efforts to get us to take kittens that needed a home. Last year friends had four lovely grey kittens to give away; recently a tiny kitten had fallen out of its nest in the roof of a barn. We trotted out the usual excuses… don’t want to be tied, what happens when we go away, the expense of cat food, vet’s bills, mess, the garden dug up, scratched furniture, allergies, diseases, fleas……
But a few months ago a starving little cat turned up on the doorstep. It gobbled down a tin of best tuna and after that called by most days for something to eat. He/she (at that stage we couldn’t tell!) looked really well and then continued to put on weight around the middle. Lo and behold we now have four adorable kittens in the tackroom of our neighbours’ stable.
White Cat is now affectionate and bossy although she will never be a lapcat. She is a good mother and between stints of kitten care she spends her time with us. We will get her to the vet when she can leave her kids for the day.
The kittens at 6 days old
The kittens are lovely, two completely white like their mum, one a pretty grey stripy and the other a tiger stripy. If you know of anyone looking to take on a kitten in two months’ time please let me know.
postscript - We hear that Fifi from Chazelle has heard that White Cat gets Whiskas and has gone on a rooftop protest….
Photo courtesy of La Tuilerie, Chazelle. www.latuileriechazelle.com