Paws to Worship

In cleaning out files, this piece surfaced—created years before I’d done much writing about sacred objects. I’d totally forgotten about both this Joan of Arc embarrassment and the cat-food recall. Yes, it’s a sarcastic send-up. But sometimes going wacky helps detox from the heavy stuff.

kitten staring upward against sparkly backgroundSome years ago, researchers announced their findings on Joan of Arc’s supposed remains, long venerated as religious relics. Two of the bones turned out to be, according to DNA tests, cat bones. A spokesperson from the Catican… uh, Vatican said the news would certainly be “a shock” to the thousands of faithful reported to have received miraculous healings at the sacred site.

Investigators, suspecting the worst, tracked down some of the people supposedly healed, in order to verify what had been claimed at the time.

  • A child named Natalie was apparently cured of a terminal illness. She remains in remission, but mysteriously began to insist on being called Whiskers.
  • Charles Plinker, who opened his door to investigators as he ate a bowl of Meow Mix with milk and sliced bananas, claims to have been cured of migraines. He reported no strange side effects whatsoever, except for an occasional hairball problem.
  • Margaret Holcomb’s crippling arthritis disappeared the moment she knelt before “St. Joan’s bones.” But on the way home in the car, she became agitated and repeatedly scratched and bit her husband. That behavior has not recurred. But Margaret is said never to leave home without some kitty litter in her purse.
  • High-schooler TayShawn Butler remains grateful for the cure of acne he credits to St. Joan. But two weeks after that healing, he felt an irresistible urge to apply for a summer job at PetSmart. And he does confess to having a tendency to purr when he watches the Nature series.
  • Little Cory Richards was carried to the St. Joan relics with a dangerously high fever. His mother recalls that the fever left immediately. Regrettably, Cory died some weeks later, his body having been found on the banks of Eagle Creek—with a field mouse clutched in his hand and three bluegill bones stuck in his throat.

The revelation of these feline findings has evoked even further controversy. Could there be a connection between the cat-bone debacle and the poison cat-food recalls reported in the news around the same time?

Some world religion experts say yes. They suggest that the wrath of Sekhmet and/or Bast(et), Egyptian deities sharing feline aspects, could have been aroused by the exploitation of cat bones at the St. Joan site. Gross abuse of a kitty corpse, as it were. Referring to the poison cat food, Dr. Safaa Sharif of the University of Cairo Religious Studies Department, declared, “What ironic divine retribution! As revenge for using cats to promote fraudulent religious pilgrimages, the pet cats of the general population perish in a sort of inexplicable plague. It’s classic!”

Many believers in the relics, though, wave aside the suggestion of any connection. Rather, they insist, “Miracles have occurred! That’s all that matters!”

There has been talk of simply separating the cat bones from St. Joan’s and relocating them to a new shrine, perhaps labeled Most Holy Cat-acombs, which would continue to attract thousands of Cat-olics and other believers. Rumors that funding is being sought from the Hello Kitty Corporation could not be confirmed.


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