Barney, the Heart and Soul of St. Sampson's Cemetery in Guernsey, Sadly Joins Those over Whose Graves He Maintained a Lonely Vigil for So Many Years
"The place won't be the same without him and his death has left a gap. I have already seen a lot of people in tears and we are very upset..."
-- Alan Curzon, sexton of St. Sampson's Cemetery
Some cats have become famous over the years as the result of having found work as a combination of companions, mascots, and mousers at libraries, post offices, police departments, hotels, veterinary offices, restaurants, bars, and all sorts of shops, but far removed from the hustle and bustle of the maddening urban crowds a handful of their brothers and sisters also have secured homes and duties at some of the most unlikely and gloomiest places on earth, i.e., cemeteries. Given that the work is primarily outdoors and involves keeping constant company with the deceased, these jobs are, cela va sans dire, not every cat's cup of catnip.
Despite those drawbacks, a ginger-colored tom named Barney was able to somehow eke out such an existence for an astonishing twenty years at St. Sampson's Cemetery in Guernsey. In doing so, he endeared himself to many of the parish's roughly nine-thousand residents by freely dispensing consolation to them after their lives had been irrevocably torn asunder as the result of untimely visits made by the Grim Reaper to the homes of relatives and friends.
"He is a much loved and very adorable cat. For those who enter the cemetery with a heavy heart, he lightens the experience for them," the church's longtime sexton, sixty-three-year-old Alan Curzon, told the Guernsey Press of Vale Parish on December 24, 2014. (See "Barney the Cat 'Comforts' Cemetery Visitors.") "When people walk through the gates, he often comes up to them and brushes against them. There is not a bad bone in his body."
Although Barney was his same lovable and kindhearted self all year-round, his ministrations were most appreciated by those who were visiting the cemetery at Christmastime. In particular, for those who were saying goodbye to a loved one he, according to Curzon, made such somber occasions "slightly more bearable." Visitors and parishioners alike responded in kind by leaving presents for him as a show of appreciation for all that he had done for them.
Sadly, all of the consoling, reviving of sagging spirits, and the replacing of sorrow with hope ended forever on March 4th when he, too, finally succumbed to that inevitable fate that no mere mortal has yet to figure out a way of avoiding. The official word from the church is that he simply died of old age.
"The place won't be the same without him and his death has left a gap," is how Curzon chose to eulogize him to The Mirror of London on March 5th. (See "Barney the Cemetery Cat Is Buried in His Own Plot after Providing Comfort for Mourners for Twenty Years.") "I have already seen a lot of people in tears and we are very upset..."
In addition to his other duties, Barney also was a regular at graveside services. "I think the presence of Barney brought a lot of comfort to so many people. Whenever I was taking a funeral up there families were so happy to see Barney milling about," the Reverend Timothy Dack, rector of St. Sampson's Church, recalled to The Mirror. "The mourners would see him and it would bring them a lot of joy. I just think he gave great comfort."
Just as the mere presence of a cat at such difficult times is a reaffirmation that not only does life go on but, much more importantly, that there is still both great beauty and opportunities for happiness and fulfillment to be found in it. The restorative power of these exquisite beings did not escape the attention of poet Rod McKuen who once opined:
"There has never been a cat
Who couldn't calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair."
The eulogies that have poured in following the announcement of Barney's death have by no means been limited to the clergy and staff of St. Sampson's Church but rather parishioners also have gone online in order to both fondly remember him and to express their heartfelt condolences. "God bless you Barney, remember that lovely sunny afternoon, I laid down on the grass in the cemetery and we cuddled up together for two hours," Debbie Ann Le Page wrote on Facebook according to the account rendered in The Mirror. "I needed a friend that day and there you were my angel!"
Other residents of the parish took comfort simply knowing that he was watching over the graves of those who had departed. "I always felt my young daughter was never alone when he was there," Sue Falla wrote on Facebook. "Really going to miss you, Barney, requiescat in pace."
The willingness with which parishioners not only so readily accepted Barney's presence but embraced him with open-arms stands in stark contrast to the cruel and violent reception that a three-year-old gray and white tom named Toldo sometimes received when he visited the grave of his owner, Renzo Iozzelli, in Montagnana, Italy. "There are insensitive people who send him away with stones and other things, convinced that the presence of an animal in the cemetery is almost a desecration," Iozzelli's widow, Ada, disclosed during the early days of 2013. (See Cat Defender post of March 28, 2013 entitled "Even the Finality of the Grave Fails to Diminish Toldo's Abiding Love and Devotion to His Long Dead Guardian.")
|Parishioners Left Presents for Barney at Christmas|
Although the church was shamefully remiss in neglecting to provide Barney with a memorial service, it did have enough respect and love for him that it, apparently, did refrain from adopting the expedient of having his remains incinerated. Instead, they are buried on the very same grounds that he trod upon for a fifth of a century.
That magnanimous decision was fully supported by the parishioners. "He should have his very own little grave there as this was his chosen place while alive," Andy Baker wrote on Facebook. "He should be laid to rest there."
It was Mandy Hardman, however, who put the case for burying him in the cemetery most succinctly. "He belongs there," she wrote on Facebook.
Whereas the church has not disclosed if it is planning on providing him with a tombstone, failing to do so could only be construed as disrespectful and ungrateful. Like everyone else buried there, he is richly deserving of a proper gravesite where parishioners and tourists alike could visit, pay their respects, and leave behind flowers, kibble, and tins of tuna just as they do to this very day at the bronze statue of Samuel Johnson's beloved cat, Hodge, at 17 Gough Street in London.
All that Curzon has revealed is that the church is planning on erecting plagues on both a wall and a bench, presumably in the burial ground itself, in his memory but he most assuredly deserves a far more fitting monument after all that he did for the church and community. Plus, he is unquestionably the cemetery's most famous resident.
As it, lamentably, is often the case with so many cats, Barney had a rather rude introduction to this wicked old world. In particular, his original owners, who resided next door to the cemetery, cruelly moved away and left him behind while he was still just a kitten. With no other prospects in sight, he kept returning to the cemetery before settling in there on a permanent basis in 1996.
Not a great deal is known concerning the quality of care that he received from St. Sampson's Church. All that has been disclosed is that Curzon and some of the parishioners did feed and water him but how often, plentiful, and nutritious the fare remains a closely guarded secret.
For whatever it is worth, Curzon insists that he led the life of Riley. "He did not have to worry about a thing, but I must stress it was not just me looking after him," he told The Mirror. "There were a lot of people that took him to their hearts."
The church also provided him with a shelter of some sort but it is believed that consisted of only an insulated pet carrier that was tucked away inside of an overturned plastic trash can. A door mat was placed out front but the cage itself was left open in the front where it was constantly exposed to the elements.
The good news is that since Guernsey is located in the Channel Islands just off the coast of Normandy, it enjoys a rather mild climate with nighttime lows rarely dropping below the freezing point and daytime highs seldom climbing above the 70° Fahrenheit barrier. It is, however, rather rainy November through January and the island is sometimes buffeted by cold Arctic winds that can make conditions outside feel like it is considerably colder than 32° Fahrenheit. That is by no means the most inhospitable climate in the world but at the same time it is far from being ideal, especially for a cat that was forced to spend all of his days and nights outdoors.
"He had his own house but he would spend his days wandering around," Curzon told The Mirror. "If he heard a car coming he would make himself known and was so friendly."
That is not surprising in that no cat desires to live its life inside a cage, especially one that is cold and wet. It is even doubtful that Curzon endeavored to so much as change his bedding once it became saturated with water.
Curzon may have been around during the daytime when he was on duty and an occasional visitor may have wandered in once in a while but for a lion's share of the time Barney was left to his own devices not only to deal with his social isolation but also to ward off juvenile miscreants, dogs, and others intent upon doing him harm. In that regard, his fate is reminiscent of that which befell a brown-colored tom with black stripes and yellow eyes named Nelson who was cruelly condemned to tough it out on the violent docks of Seaham Harbor in County Durham for fifteen long and hellish years.
By the time that he was finally taken in by Andrea and Dave Huntley-Crow of nearby Seaton in 2009, yobs already had put out his right eye with either stones or an air gun and either someone or some animal had divested him of his tail. (See Cat Defender post of April 16, 2015 entitled "Nelson's Odyssey from Being the Long Abused Cat That Nobody Wanted to One of England's Most Beloved Comes to a Sad End at Age Twenty.")
|Barney in a Contemplative Mood|
Instead of cruelly condemning Barney to face both the elements and predators all by his lonesome, someone at St. Sampson's should have provided him with a safe and warm home. Failing that, the church should at the very least have allowed him to sleep inside at night.
Press reports fail to mention if the church provided him with any sort of veterinary care but if it was too cheap to have done that much for him it is doubtful that either Curzon or anyone else cared enough in order to have either brushed his coat, removed parasites from his fur, or attended to minor injuries. Contrary to what an awful lot of individuals fervently believe, the proper care of a cat entails considerably more than occasionally setting out cheap kibble and tap water for it to consume so that it can somehow stave off immediate starvation. Besides, such acts of beau geste are invariably undertaken for reasons of ego gratification with comparatively little regard for the well-being of the cat.
Curzon, Dack, and other residents of St. Sampson's Parish therefore can shout their abiding love for Barney from the rooftops until the cows come home but their abject neglect of him points to an altogether different conclusion. C'est-à-dire, they milked him for everything that he was worth while simultaneously barely bothering to reciprocate in a compassionate fashion at all.
In that respect the benign neglect that he received from St. Sampson's Church in return for his twenty years of unconditional love and loyalty mirrors the revoltingly shabby treatment that the citizens of St. Andrews meted out to their longtime resident feline, Hamish McHamish. (See Cat Defender posts of June 20, 2014 and October 18, 2014 entitled, respectively, "St. Andrews Honors Hamish McHamish with a Bronze Statue but Does Not Have the Decency, Love, and Compassion in Order to Provide Him with a Warm, Secure, and Permanent Home" and "Hamish McHamish's Derelict Owner Reenters His Life after Fourteen Years of Abject Neglect only to Have Him Killed Off after He Contracts a Preeminently Treatable Common Cold.")
In spite of all of those glaring omissions in the church's care of him, the fact that Barney was able to tough it out at the cemetery for so long strongly implies that Curzon and the parishioners surely must have been doing something right. On the other hand, it is entirely conceivable that he owed his good fortune, not to the church, but rather to an environment that was relatively free of both animal and human predators.
As far as the former are concerned, dogs, birds of prey and, in North America, raccoons, coyotes, and fishers take an alarming toll on cats. In regard to the latter, it is chiefly motorists who kill cats and they sans doute do so deliberately and for fun.
Since absolutely no one from the church was watching out for him, Barney's longevity is one indication that vehicular traffic in and around the cemetery surely must be sparse. Additionally, his original owners may have had him sterilized and that likely significantly curtailed his roaming.
An environment that was free of such prolific cat killers as ornithologists, wildlife biologists, Animal Control officers, and representatives of PETA also would have augured well for his survival. The same logic is equally applicable to private citizens who make careers out of poisoning, shooting, and stealing cats. Quite obviously, St. Sampson's Parish is a far more cat-friendly area than any comparable city in the thoroughly lawless and morally bankrupt United States where almost any form of cruelty, no matter how heinous, is not only simply accepted by the hoi polloi but sanctified by the country's shamefully corrupt political and legal establishment.
As far as Barney's death is concerned, there is not any obvious reason to question the church's version of events. That is by no means meant to imply that Christians have either a more abiding respect for the sanctity of feline lives than non-believers or that they are any more honest and truthful than, say, politicians and Bauernfängers.
Rather, St. Sampson's decision to allow Barney to live out his life to the very end likely was rooted in the legendary cheapness of Christians. After all, confirmed cheapskates who truly believe that they should be patted on the back for handing out stale peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and thimblefuls of Kool-Aid®, which they received from the government no less, to the poor is not about to pay a veterinarian to whack a cat.
"I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ," the soon-to-be canonized Macedonian hypocrite, Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, once declared while she was still alive and living high on the hog. "I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people." (See Michael Parenti, "Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints," Common Dreams, October 22, 2007.)
Like the Jews, Christians only champion the cause of the poor so that they can exploit them. "Nicht ihre Menschenliebe, sondern die Ohnmacht ihrer Menschenliebe hindert die Christen von heute, uns -- zu verbrennen," is how Friedrich Nietzsche put it in his 1886 work, Janseits von Gut und Böse. (Aphorismus einhundertvier).
Besides being hypocritical and self-serving, the drivel served up by both groups of fraudsters serves only to foster a culture of subservience and poverty. "...Christianity, with its emphasis on humility and the hope for a happier afterlife, was clearly a religion for slaves and poor people," Edward Rutherfurd observed in his 1997 historical novel, London.
|Barney Resting in an Outdoor Pet Carrier That Likely Was His Only Home|
The Christians' abuse of cats, other animals, and Mother Earth is even more pronounced than their mistreatment of their fellow humans and that is so much the case that it can only be characterized as patently immoral and criminal. Specifically, their outrageous and totally unforgivable crime spree against the animals and Mother Earth began when they fell hook, line, and sinker for the Jews' morally repugnant theology contained in Genesis 1:26-28, Acts 10:9-13, and the Book of Revelation.
Armed with such sottise, Pope Gregory IX denounced black cats as satanic in a papal bull issued in 1233. Later in the fifteenth century, Pope Innocent VIII followed his lead by issuing his infamous witch bull which declared that all cat worshipers, and by implication all cats as well, should be disposed of via the auto-da-fé.
Those and other pronouncements by the Vatican led to the commission of wholesale atrocities against cats and their female owners who were branded as witches. (See Cat Defender posts of May 22, 2006, August 6, 2009, and May 27, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Belgian Ritual of Tossing Stuffed Cats from the Belfry Makes a Jest of the Hideous Crimes of Capitalists and Catholics," "Unrepentant and Totally Shameless, Ieper Once Again Makes a Mockery of Its Past Crimes Against Cats by Staging Kattenstoet," and "Salem, Massachusetts, Is Going After Cats Again Much Like It Did During the 1692 Witch Trials.")
Even more damning, very few clergymen, with the notable exception of Anglican priest Ralph Inge, have been willing to even acknowledge the commission of such heinous crimes. "We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the devil in human form," he declared in his 1922 book, Outspoken Essays.
Guernsey itself is by no means any stranger to the hideous crimes perpetrated by the Catholic Church against the indigenous people of Europe. In point of fact, both the island's patron saint as well as the parish in which Barney resided for so many years are named in honor of Samson (sic) of Dol-de-Bretagne who forcibly converted the inhabitants to Christianity during the sixth century.
It is a bit difficult to unearth the historical particulars but if the Catholics followed the same methodologies in subduing Guernsey that they did elsewhere across Europe, they eradicated wholesale numbers of both non-believers and cats as well. Moreover, the Catholics were not only brutal but thorough as well in that the only known so-called pagan manuscripts to have survived their purges were Beowulf in England, the Nibelungenlied in Deutschland, and the Younger Edda and the Elder Edda in Iceland.
Once the followers of St. Sampson had polished off those who still believed in the Norse gods they quickly turned their attention to Protestants and as a result Catherine Cauchés and her two daughters, Perotine Massey and Guillemine Gilbert, were burned at the stake on July 18, 1556 during the Marian (Queen Mary I) Persecutions. The gory details are nothing short of horrifying.
Although the usual procedure called for the condemned to be strangled before being burned, on that occasion the cord broke and as a result the women were cast into the flames while still very much alive. Even more shocking, after the flames had reached Massey her stomach broke open and out popped an infant boy. A bystander rescued him from the fire but the bailiff, Hellier Gosselin, ordered that he be tossed back into the pyre where he, too, perished alongside his mother, aunt, and grandmother.
Quite obviously, the Vatican's outrage over abortions is not only a fairly recent contrivance but it historically did not even apply to the unborn children of those that it considered to be heretics. Furthermore, even though "Bloody Mary's" father, King Henry VIII, had taken the Church of England out from underneath the yoke of the Vatican in 1534, that made absolutely no difference as far as the fate of these three women and one unborn child were concerned.
The Catholic Church no longer liquidates dissenters but the same most definitely cannot be said for its abhorrent mistreatment and neglect of cats and other animals. Of late, however, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has signaled that it is at least willing to consider inching away from the Dominion Mandate.
"We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justices absolute dominion over other creatures...." he wrote last June in a much discussed encyclical on climate change entitled "Laudato Si': On the Care of Our Common Home." (See The Philadelphia Inquirer's print edition of June 19, 2015, "Praise, Doubt on Francis' Stand.")
What, if any, concrete steps that he is going to be willing to take in order to save the animals is unclear. What is needed, however, is for him and the church to make a clean break once and for all time from their Jewish brethren and to declare in no uncertain terms that all animal abuse, exploitation, and killing is immoral.
Even if, against all odds, he should be willing to take such a giant step, he is going to face stiff opposition. For example, at the United States Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, scientists are in the process of committing seemingly every diabolical atrocity known to man in order to re-engineer cows, pigs, sheep, and other animals so as to, inter alia, force them to grow fatter and to give birth to larger litters.
Not surprisingly, the former director of the USDA-operated laboratory, Robert R. Oltjen, invoked the Dominion Mandate back in 1979 as a divine justification for the hideous crimes that he and other scientists are committing. (See The New York Times, January 19, 2015, "United States Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit.")
The crimes that are committed against animals by vivisectors, factory farmers, animal shelters, veterinarians, hunters, the imperialist war machines of the Yanks and Jews, and phony-baloney conservationists such as ornithologists and wildlife biologists are several million times worse than anything that goes on inside abortion clinics and yet both Catholics and Protestants alike do not have a problem with the former. Contrary to what the Vatican claims, it most definitely is not pro-life; rather, its morality is strictly limited to belatedly being pro-fetus.
In addition to the fundamental problem that the Vatican's behavior seldom, if ever, matches its rhetoric, it also has a disturbing tendency for taking ten steps backwards for every one that it takes in the opposite direction. For example, when Bergoglio was in Washington last September he not only held a clandestine meeting with anti-homosexual rabble-rouser Kim Davis of Kentucky but also canonized Father Junipero Serra, an eighteenth century Franciscan, who has been accused of, inter alia, mistreating, expelling, and forcibly converting Native Americans in California to Catholicism. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
|Barney as He Will Be Remembered, Roaming the Headstones|
It therefore almost goes without saying that no halfway decent human being, let alone the head of the Roman Catholic Church, should be canonizing cretins like him and frauds such as Bojaxhiu. (See The Philadelphia Inquirer's print edition of May 7, 2015, "Francis Praises Future Saint.")
All the while that Bergoglio and other Christian leaders around the world are continuing to fumble around in the dark in a belated effort to locate their long-lost moral compasses, their adherents are going right on abusing and killing cats with impunity. For instance, churches such as St. Jude in Tequesta, Florida, and Northside Baptist in Baltimore have given the heave-ho to down-and-out homeless felines who have so much as dared to venture onto their precious little turfs. (See the Palm Beach Post, October 19, 2007, "Cat Feeders Hiss at Church's Barricade" and Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2009 and May 1, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Ferals Living at a Baltimore Church Find Out the Hard Way That Hatred of Cats Is Every bit as Christian as Unleavened Bread and Cheap Wine," and "When It Comes to Cats, Acts of Faith Count for Absolutely Nothing with the Good Christians at Northside Baptist.")
The Baptists who run the show at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, kill them with impunity whereas Fundamentalist Mormon enclaves like Colorado City, Arizona, are a no-man's land for both them and dogs as well. (See Cat Defender posts of February 12, 2007 and August 8, 2012 entitled, respectively, "God-Fearing Baptists at Eastern University Kill Off Their Feral Cats on the Sly while Students Are Away on Christmas Break" and "Polygamists Condemn Thomas to a Long and Excruciatingly Painful Death by Burying Him Up to His Tiny Neck Inside a Steel Post Filled with Wet Concrete.")
In Bastrop, Texas, Pastor Rick Bartlett stole his neighbors' cat, Moody, and subsequently flung him off a bridge to his death. (See Cat Defender post of January 10, 2014 entitled "Texas Judge Idiotically Allows Pastor Rick Bartlett to Get Away with Stealing and Killing Moody but a Civil Court May Yet Hold Him Accountable.")
Even when they are not killing cats outright, the gross negligence shown them by the likes of Cross Church in Seattle and evangelical blowhards such as Prophetess Royal Poinciana Sprewell in Kissimmee is usually more than sufficient in order to result in them suffering life-threatening injuries if not indeed their premature deaths. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2009, August 17, 2009, and December 23, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Resident of a Church-Run Homeless Shelter in Seattle Uses a Box Cutter in Order to Gut Scatt from Collarbone to Tail," "America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as a Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets Off with Time on the Water Wagon," and, "Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee.")
Although St. Sampson's has not said one way or the other if it is planning on acquiring a replacement for Barney, that likely is not in the cards. Besides, during his tenure he became pretty much indispensable and irreplaceable.
Nonetheless, with him now gone there will not be anyone to console the bereaved in quite the same way that he did for so very long. "When relatives and friends have suffered the awful loss of someone close to them and go to visit a cemetery they are not in the best frame of mind but Barney was always there to cheer them up," Curzon explained to The Mirror.
No matter how hard modern man attempts to first rationalize and then curtly dismiss such events, there simply is not any way of getting around the reality that there is something profoundly sad about the death of a cat. That is not only attributable to their brief life-expectancies and the total lack of understanding and appreciation that they receive while alive, but it also lies in knowing that they will not be coming back in either this world or ten-thousand worlds in the future.
With their young minds unpolluted by the blatant lies so profusely disseminated by the Platonists, Jews, Christians, and rationalists in the universities, the Norsemen and the presocratic Greeks understood that only too well. Along with that they also knew that although existence could be beautiful and joyful, it also had its ugly and heartbreaking side as well.
Perhaps most important of all, the Norse were fully cognizant that both they and their gods, who also were mortal, were doomed. Yet, they fought valiantly to the bitter end when the Catholics finally subdued and exterminated them and in the process nearly succeeded in completely erasing not only any memory that they had so much as existed but their dark and terrifying truths as well.
Although they and their culture were consigned to the dust bin of history long ago, the special relationship that they had with cats refuses to die and given that the roines, as the inhabitants of St. Sampson's Parish are known, were so willing to open up their hearts to Barney it is entirely possible that a few precious drops of residual Norse blood still flows in their aged veins. "All our family loved you so very much and we will always be so grateful of the comfort you gave us at what can be a difficult place," Kelly Ogier said of Barney on Facebook. "You brought sunshine to us and we will love you forever."
Well, perhaps at least until both she and St. Sampson's Cemetery join him in the great void. In the final analysis, however, that is not such a bad deal. It simply means that wonderful cats like him should be loved, treasured, and revered for every day that they are here because tomorrow is not guaranteed to any creature and life after death is only a gimmick concocted by the Christians in order to line their pockets, enslave the naïve, and to excuse the detestable crimes that they persist in committing here in the present.
Photos: Small World News Service via The Mirror.