Ghost Cats of Mission San Buenaventura

Elizabet Mahloo, wrote a picture book about Sulla. “The Cat of Mission San Juan Bautista”

by Richard Senate

Cats have been part of the Mission story from the days of the Spanish Padres. Mission San Fernando had little doors cut in the wooden doors so cats could move from one room to another to catch mice.  At Mission San Antonia de Padua, near King City, many cats call this place home.  One all black kitten lived their and unlike the others he would go into the church and listen to the Mass being sung.

The Franciscan Fathers fed the animal, but this stray seemed different, then, in 2007 they had a funeral for a young man who had lost his life in a tragic accident. The mother of the young man was in the front pew, crying, during the funeral Mass. The black cat sat next to her for a time, then jumped down and rushed past the priest and casket into the sacristy. In moments, the feline returned with a rosary in its mouth. He ran to the mother and presented the item to the woman, sat on her lap to comfort her. From that day on the cat was called Rosario.

Another cat, Sulla, an all-white cat became attached to the Mission San Juan Baptista a few years ago. Like Rosario he would attend Mass and at each service he would select one of the attendees   to give them comfort, they were always someone undergoing some personal pain. Some whispered that Sulla was an angelic agent of St. Francis. One burly man was selected by the cat. In his troubled and abused youth he had taken his rage out on small animals. In adulthood he regretted what he had done.  The cat sought him out and sat on his lap, driving him to tears. He saw it as a sign that he was forgiven for his awful  acts he did as a child and teenager.

San Buenaventura has it’s own cat stories, In the 19th Century, Fr. Francisco Uria had four cats as pets. He named them after saints; San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Barbara and Santa Ines. They followed him where ever he went, they even dinned together, played together and slept with him at the old mission. Every visitor wrote of the priest with the pet cats, and many played with the felines. The felines  would stay at the church at Mass and follow him as he performed his many religious duties. At last the good padre went to his reward and the four cats attended his funeral. At the end of the funeral Mass, the four cats ran to the back of the church, they jumped up on the bell rope, digging in their claws and together their combined  weight, tolled the bell, for their fallen master.

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