Popes and Pets Is the Pope allowed to have a Pet?

Popes and Pets

Is the Pope allowed to have a Pet?

Popes and Pets – the current rule
The official rule is no a Pope cannot have a pet that lives with him within the walls of the Vatican City. In fact no (non-service) animal is allowed within the walls of the Vatican City whether it belongs to a resident or is visiting. However there is some speculation that a Pope could make a rule to change that law. Many insiders believe this would not happen because of the Pope’s traveling schedule and the fact that even on a regular day it would be left to the nuns to keep the Pope’s home in order to care for the animal. Once elected Pope even travel within the city walls are restricted for safety reasons and so walking a dog would be practically impossible and even if someone was assigned that duty protection would have to be given to the dog to protect it from someone who would harm it in order to hurt the Pope. There are certainly arguments that could be employed to allow animals to be residents of the Vatican City be that a few feral cats to keep the old buildings rat free or a therapy dog that would go around visiting the residents of the city and certainly the Pope himself as no matter what you think of the person or the job or religion being Pope must be a pretty stressful undertaking at such an advanced age in life. There are very few jobs in the world where you aren’t politely asked to retire by 60 or 65. A Pope can be elected to the position up until his 80th Birthday.

Popes and Pets – even unconventional ones

Everything from small lap dogs to singing birds even an elephant. During various times in history there were different rules and laws about keeping animals within the walls of the Vatican. Some of these animals would have been more for company while others were used more for sport.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had a cat that lived in his home in Germany. The cat Chico was looked after by a caretaker while he lived at the Vatican. In his new position he will not be allowed to keep a pet but there are several cats who live their live on the ground of the compound where he will spend his retirement. Certainly he will be able to interact with them or at least enjoy a bit of sunshine and fresh air in their presence.

Popes and Pets

Books about Pope’s and their Pets

The Vatican felt that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI relationship with cats should be used to help tell the tale of his life in the children’s book Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told By a Cat. In this beautifully illustrated book for children, Chico the cat describes the life of his “best friend”, Pope Benedict, in this authorized biography of the Pope for young people approved by the Vatican. Dear Children, here you will find a biography that is different than others because it is told by a cat and it is not every day a cat can consider the Holy Father his friend and sit down to write his life story,” the Pope’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, says in the foreword.

In case the idea that a Pope kept an elephant as a pet has intrigued you here is a link to a book about The Pope’s Elephant. In 1514, Rome, the Eternal City, was the center of the Christian world and home and workshop to Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. It was also the city of Pope Leo X, the pleasure-loving pontiff whose court was infamous for its excess, frivolity and impropriety, as well as for its newly-arrived white elephant Hanno. Hanno became a star feature in processions and festivals, and the subject of countless paintings, sculptures and fountains. In this fascinating glimpse at a forgotten sidenote to history, Silvio A. Bedini gives us an elephant’s-back view of early modern Europe and the inner workings of the Vatican at the height of its influence. Charmingly written with dozens of accompanying photographs and illustrations, The Pope’s Elephant will delight readers just as Hanno delighted the people of Rome five centuries ago.

How about a Rhinoceros as a pet? The Pope’s Rhinoceros The Pope’s Rhinoceros is a vivid, antic, and picaresque novel spun around one of history’s most bizarre chapters: the sixteenth-century attempt to procure a rhinoceros as a bribe for Pope Leo X. In February 1516, a Portuguese ship sank off the coast of Italy. The Nostra Senora de Ajuda had sailed fourteen thousand miles from the Indian kingdom of Gujarat. Her mission: to bribe the “pleasure-loving Pope” into favoring expansionist Portugal over her rival Spain with the most exotic and least likely of gifts — a living rhinoceros. Moving from the herring colonies of the Baltic Sea to the West African rain forest, with a cast of characters including an order of reclusive monks and Rome’s corrupt cardinals, courtesans, ambassadors, and nobles, The Pope’s Rhinoceros is at once a fantastic adventure tale and a portrait of an age rushing headlong to its crisis.

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  1. Josef Ratzinger was well known for his friendships with the free-roaming and feral cats of roan, and if that was successfully interrupted while he was Pope, I suspect it will resume now that he is merely Pope Emeritus.

  2. Jessica Sala says

    A reason to not be the Pope!

  3. Cool topic! I would hope that the Pope would realize how essential it is to open your heart to the K9 persuasion 🙂

  4. Very interesting.

  5. who’d a thunk it?

  6. Pope Pius XII had a canary called Gretel, there is at least one photograph of her perched on the Pope’s finger. Pope Paul VI kept carp in a pond at Castel Gandolfo – he fed them individually

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