The Birmingham Oratory has lost their cutest archivist.
Pushkin became well known during Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 trip to the United Kingdom. While the pontiff was visiting the Birmingham Oratory, where Pushkin lived, the cat began mewing for attention. Catholic Herald explains that Benedict was completely charmed and spoke to the cat:
“Aren’t you pretty, aren’t you pretty? What’s his name? How old is he?” Pushkin, wearing a ribbon in the papal colours of yellow and white, extended his paw and is said to have maintained “a dignified and prayerful silence.”
Thus began a deep friendship between two men at the top of their fields. Whereas Benedict had published around 70 works on philosophy and theology, Pushkin is the author of Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat, a ghostwritten memoir with a foreword written by Her Royal Highness The Princess Michael of Kent.
Pushkin shook paws with many prominent figures and kept regular correspondence with the cats over at the Carmelite convent at Wolverhampton. He came to the Birmingham Oratory with his owner, Fr. Guziel, who brought his feline companion with him when he was relocated from Stoke-on-Trent. Fr Guziel spoke about his friend’s life and work:
“He was just a lovely cat, very discerning,” Fr Guziel told the Catholic Herald today. “He always liked to investigate visitors and make sure they were all right.”
Fr Guziel described Pushkin as a natural Oratorian, “a community-minded pussy” who liked to join the Oratory Fathers at table or at recreation.
The relationship between cats and the Congregation of the Oratory goes all the way back to St. Philip Neri, a lifelong friend to cats who sometimes carried one in a basket during processions.
One of the finest Twitter eulogies came from the desk of Lawrence Gregory, an archivist working with the Oratory’s John Henry Newman papers:
“He was a great assistant to me in the archives, very skilled at #CATaloguing.”
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