London cathedral honors beloved stray cat with memorial service

London cathedral honors beloved stray cat with memorial service

A cathedral in London celebrated the life of one of its beloved congregants this week, but she wasn’t your typical churchgoer. 

Doorkins Magnificat was a stray cat that arrived at Southwark Cathedral about 12 years ago and made the building her home until she died last month. 

On Wednesday, the cathedral held a memorial service for Doorkins, led by Rev. Andrew Nunn, the dean of Southwark Cathedral.

“We host, in more normal times, memorial services for the great and the good and the funerals of our neighbors, our friends and our family,” Nunn said in the service, which was streamed on YouTube. “But I suspect we’ve never had a service for a cat.”

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Though there had been some online criticism for the event — including from Bishop of Burnley, Philip North —  Nunn said that the service was a good opportunity to give thanks for Doorkins’ well-lived life.

Doorkins Magnificat (pictured) came to the Southwark Cathedral in London in 2008 and quickly made the cathedral her home. (SWNS)

Doorkins Magnificat (pictured) came to the Southwark Cathedral in London in 2008 and quickly made the cathedral her home. (SWNS)

“Some may think that cats don’t deserve ceremonies and eulogies and prayers, that their death should pass without comment or occasion, but I can’t agree,” Nunn said. “And I’m not particularly a cat person, or at least I wasn’t before I met her.”

“But this little cat who arrived at our door, who chose us and stayed, changed our lives and enhanced our mission and ministry, she did more to bring people to this place than I will ever do,” Nunn added. “So I need to give thanks and I want to give thanks.”

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During the 45-minute ceremony, Lisa Gutwein — who wrote a children’s book called “Doorkins the Cathedral Cat” in 2017 — read scripture and the cathedral’s head verger, Paul Timms, spoke about some of his favorite memories of Doorkins.

According to The Guardian, Doorkins first came to Southwark Cathedral in 2008 and quickly made herself at home, lounging over a warm pipe near the altar or, around Christmastime, lounging in the straw of the nativity scene.

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When the Bishop was there, or even when Queen Elizabeth II visited the cathedral, Doorkins barely paid attention, The Guardian reported.

“No way was she a lap cat,” Nunn said. “She could be nice at moments but only on her own terms, and she could lash out when she’d had enough. She set the pace in every relationship.”

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Southwark Cathedral eventually made Doorkins merchandise including mugs, magnets and greeting cards, according to The Guardian. She also had her own Twitter account, which has more than 6,000 followers.

On Wednesday, the cathedral held a memorial service for Doorkins, who died of liver failure on Sept. 30. (SWNS)

On Wednesday, the cathedral held a memorial service for Doorkins, who died of liver failure on Sept. 30. (SWNS)

However, during the ceremony, Nunn said Southwark Cathedral wasn’t in charge of Doorkins.

“Doorkins Magnificat, to give her her Sunday name, was not owned by us,” he said. “We might call her our cat, but she was her own cat who chose to live here on her own terms in her own way. And we got used to her as she had to get used to us.”

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Though she spent over a decade in Southwark Cathedral, Doorkins spent her last days with Timms at his home. She died on Sept. 30 of liver failure. 

“She passed away peacefully in my arms that evening to the sound of a familiar voice,” Timms said during the service. “It is only fitting, then, that she should be remembered in this way for all the joy, pleasure and comfort she gave to so many people who could identify with her story – a story that mirrored aspects of our human condition, stories of care, hospitality to strangers, comfort friendship, companionship, unconditional love.”

After the ceremony — where 30 people attended in-person — Doorkins’ remains were interred in the cathedral garden. 

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