A recent University of Chicago alumni newsletter featured the following story about their mascot cat.
A recent University of Chicago alumni newsletter featured the following story about their mascot cat. It tells of a rescued 6-week-old orphaned kitten that Rev. Elizabeth Davenport, dean of Rockefeller Chapel, adopted and brought to the chapel in October 2010.
The sleek black and white tuxedo cat was named Modo, short for Quasimodo. The carillon bells were ringing on the kitten's arrival and Dean Davenport told him "his namesake of old had swung on carillon bells and that he better get used to the carillon and organ." Modo was unfazed by the bells and completely integrated himself into the life of the chapel.
His title is "Chapel Cat/General Health and Wellness of Rockefeller Chapel" and in this role his antics liven up staff meetings, entertain visitors and provide comfort to students missing their own pets. Some students come regularly to visit him. Modo spends most of his time in the dean's office "helping" them with their work when he is not snuggling with his favorite stuffed bear. He is listed in the Sunday bulletin and other chapel publications along with his email address and has regular correspondence with a small following. Soon there will be a blog and web page.
There is a long history of cathedrals, particularly in Europe, having a mascot cat. While researching this, I found the following remarkable story of a very intuitive and brave tabby cat that, during WWII, chose St Augustine's church in London as her home. The priest, Father Ross, became aware of her presence and decided to keep her. She was named Faith.
Faith settled in quickly and became a good mouser. She attended services in the church and would sit in the pulpit at the priest's feet during sermons. She became a favorite of the staff and parishioners and had free access to all areas of the church…and so it continued for four years.
In August 1940, Faith was looking plumper than usual and soon she surprised everyone by producing one tiny kitten. Her church family was delighted and a notice was put up in the church. The following Sunday the boys choir sang All Things Bright and Beautiful in honor of the new arrival.
About four weeks later Faith became persistent, (as only a cat can) about wanting to go down to the basement. The doors were opened for her and she soon carried her kit by the scruff down there. The basement was a mess, full of dusty books and sheet music. When she did not return, Father Ross investigated and found her there curled up in a corner with her kitten in the dark, dirty and cold environment. Father Ross returned them to their warm nest upstairs. Faith relocated to the basement three more times until finally, a decision was made to let her stay in the basement. Her basket and bedding was taken there and she and the kitten happily settled in.
This was during the time of the bombing blitz on London and several days later, a direct hit to the church badly damaged the structure. The church was a twisted wreckage with flames rising from the shattered timbers. The priest disregarding the warnings of the firefighters went to the area over the basement calling for Faith. He heard a faint answering meow and was able to rescue the two cats and take them to safety.
Soon after that, the rest of the roof collapsed and buried the corner where the cats had been. In time things returned to normal and Faith resumed her attendance at church. Her kitten was given to a nursing home to become their much-loved pet. Father Ross had Faith's photograph taken, framed and hung on the chapel wall. He put underneath it this text:
Our dear little church cat of St. Augustine and St. Faith.
The bravest cat in the world.
On Monday, September 9th, 1940, she endured horrors and perils beyond the power of words to tell.
Shielding her kitten in a sort of recess in the house (a spot she selected three days before the tragedy occurred), she sat the whole frightful night of bombing and fire, guarding her little kitten.
... Yet she stayed calm and steadfast and waited for help. We rescued her in the early morning while the place was still burning, and By the mercy of Almighty God, she and her kitten were not only saved, but unhurt.
God be praised and thanked for His goodness and mercy to our dear little pet.
Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS .