Micetto, the Pope's Cat
Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768 - 1848)
I find myself at the same time in a Monastery, a farm, an orchard, and a park. I have as a companion a fat red-grey cat with black cross stripes, born at the Vatican in the Raphael Gallery: Leo XII brought it up in the skirt of his robe, where I used to watch it with envy, when the Pontiff gave me my audience as Ambassador. On the death of the successor of St. Peter, I inherited the cat without a master, as I have told you in writing of my Roman Embassy. They called it Micetto, surnamed the Pope's Cat. In this capacity it enjoys an extreme consideration among pious souls. I strive to make it forget exile, the Sistine Chapel and the Sun of Michael Angelo's dome, on which it used to take its walks far removed from earth.
Since Benedict XVI is noted as an excellent Church historian, he undoubtedly knows of Micetto. There may yet be a Pope's Cat in the Vatican again. Micetto II perhaps?
In reading this passage, can't you just imagine an old man and his kitten, hiding in the hem of his robes when he has visitors, peeking out at them. Playing with his feet anytime he shifted them, and the consternation of the housekeepers who would have to repair the pricks of tiny claws in the papal robes. Or as an adult cat, exploring all the high places it can climb, going anywhere it pleases, an entire city to its self. Or, as Leo XII neared death, Micetto keeping him company, curled up beside him - an old man and his beloved cat.
Update 5/3/05 - Micetto, Italian for nice kitten (male). Micetta, nice kitten (female)