St. Ursula

300px-Vittore_Carpaccio_050_DreamofStUrsulaShe looks so peaceful there, in Carpaccio’s The Dream of St. Ursula, but what the angel is telling her is pretty grisly (you really had to go through a lot to become a saint back then). Ursula was supposed to marry a prince in Brittany, so she sailed over there from England with, for some reason, 11,000 other virgins. When she got there she decided to go on a pilgrimage instead, and so all the virgins ended up in Cologne, where they were beheaded (and you can actually see their bones there, or at least a whole lot of bones, at the Basilica of St. Ursula).

We had a cat once who was named Ursula when we got her. This cat was so strange she must have had the same dream. She got plastered into a wall, and wouldn’t come out for three days even after we ruined the wall for her; she fell down an old coal scuttle and lived on food we lowered down till we figured out where the old entrance was. But she did uphold the legend of her name. We decided we’d introduce our children to the mystery of life by bringing in a lovely male Tuxedo cat for her to mate with, but she refused. A virgin till the end – a violent car death, but at least no beheading.

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