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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

A Mouse, a Cat, and a Dog Share a Bowl of Soup from St. Martin. Told by Laura Hobgood-Oster. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen

"At the feet of St. Martin were a dog and a cat eating peacefully from the same bowl of soup. The friar was about to call the rest of the monks in to witness this marvelous sight when a mouse stuck its head out from a little hole in the wall. St. Martin without hesitation addressed the mouse as if he were an old friend. 'Don't be afraid, little one. If you're hungry come and eat with the others.' The little mouse hesitated but then scampered to the bowl of soup. The friar could not speak. At the feet of the servant St. Martin, a dog, a cat, and a mouse were eating from the same bowl of soup." (Hobgood-Oster 2012:81)

St Martin de Porres (1579-1639) was born in Lima, Peru as the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman and a freed African slave woman. Abandoned by his father at a young age, he lived a life of poverty and was also ridiculed for being of mixed race. He lived a life of fasting, prayer and abstaining from meat and was only allowed to join a monastery (as a Dominican) by accepting the menial tasks. He grew famous for his humility, for caring for the sick, for performing miracles and for his love of animals and for being able to communicate with them and heal them. He lived with a dog, a cat, a bird and a mouse.


Laura Hobgood-Oster, who serves as a professor in both Religion and Environmental Studies and holds the esteemed Paden Chair at Southwestern University, has made significant contributions as a writer. Her works include "Holy Dogs and Asses: Animals in the Christian Tradition" and she also oversees the "Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature" as its executive editor. Hobgood-Oster presents a compelling argument that the Christian faith has historically overlooked the significance of animals in believers' lives. While individual Christians have shown kindness and empathy towards animals, these sentiments have not been widely reflected or emphasized by the church as a whole. She advocates for a renewed focus on animal compassion within Christian teachings.


In addition to her academic pursuits, Hobgood-Oster dedicates her time to dog rescue efforts in Georgetown, Texas. She holds in high regard those Christian figures who have embraced animals as integral members of their communities and hearts. The opening quotation charmingly recounts an anecdote about one such saint.



Hobgood-Oster, Laura (2012). "Does Christian Hospitality Require that We Eat Meat?” In A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals. Eds. Tripp York and Andy Alexis-Baker. Eugene: Cascade Books. 74-89.


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