Reunited with candle magic
Spencer was saved by the power of prayer
Marta Larkin, 38, Belfast O pening my arms for cuddles, I beamed as my big ginger tomcat Spencer jumped onto the sofa. Soft as a brush, he loved to climb onto my lap and rest his white paws on my shoulders for snuggles. Me and my partner, Mick Mcgrath, can’t have kids, so our six cats – Spencer, Feidhelm, Darcie, Fletcher, Aoife and Reilly – are our beloved fur-babies. Nothing’s too good for them. Our Belfast home is full of scratching posts and cat beds, our kitchen cupboards stocked with Felix and Dreamies. Two-year-old Spencer was always the most affectionate – he was the one curled up on our bed at night or purring contently on my knee in front of the telly.
So when I arrived home from work on 17 November 2017 and Spencer’s whiskery nose wasn’t waiting to greet me, instinct immediately told me something was wrong. ‘Don’t worry love, he’ll soon turn up,’ soothed Mick, although I could tell he was just as concerned. Every time we heard the cat flap we both looked up, expecting to see a ginger-andwhite face. By the end of the day we were getting really worried. Spencer just wasn’t one of those cats that goes wandering. ‘I’ll put an appeal out on Facebook,’ suggested Mick. Within hours we’d got a message from the owner of our local garage, saying Spencer was in his back yard. But when he went out to try and catch him, our crafty kitty gave him the slip, leaving his collar
Mick and I were beside ourselves with worry
behind in the process.
‘Oh no,’ I wailed to Mick. ‘Now he’s lost and he doesn’t have his nametag on.’
Spencer was microchipped, but I’d always reasoned a collar kept him even safer.
Gone for good
sign Days of Spencer. turned into Mick weeks and with I were no beside ourselves, we spent hours every night trawling the neighbourhood, handing out fliers to shopkeepers and pasting posters to lampposts.
LOST CAT: Ginger and white with a tubby body. Please look everywhere you think a frightened cat might hide or be trapped. We even offered a
cash reward. Meanwhile Mick, a digital marketing specialist, bought paid-for advertising on Facebook and a service that contacted every vet within a 50-mile radius. We had hundreds of fliers printed and took out advertisements in the local newpapers.
As Christmas approached, the weather turned colder. By mid-december, it’d started to snow.
‘How’s he going to survive?’ I
wept to Mick. Our baby was somewhere out there, lost and alone in the sleet and ice.
We continued to trudge the streets with a torch, calling his name into the dark. But there was no familiar meow in response.
In desperation, we found a pet detective. We paid him £350 to search for Spencer but he also came back empty-handed.
By this time, we reckoned we’d spent over £1,000 trying to find our missing moggy.
‘I don’t even want to put up the Christmas tree,’ I told Mick. How could we celebrate?
Christmas Day came and went. We tried to be cheerful over our turkey dinner but the house felt so empty without my lovely Spencer.
Then Mick came up with an idea.
‘I’ve ordered two candles online,’ he explained one evening. ‘One for St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, and one to Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost causes.’
‘What the hell, let’s give this a go,’ I thought. Neither of us was particularly religious but it was worth a try.
When they arrived, the candles had a picture of each of the saints printed on the side, along with a special prayer.
On 4 January, exactly seven weeks to the day that Spencer disappeared, we set the candles on our mantelpiece.
Mick struck a match and I watched as they flickered to life.
We’d also found another special prayer dedicated to bringing back lost pets.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, we stared into the flames and prayed together: ‘Father, we ask you to find Spencer, our dear pet who is now lost…’
We left the candles burning all day. Every time I walked past them, I sent up another wee prayer.
The following morning, I was still in bed when Mick pottered downstairs to make a cup of coffee.
Minutes later he was back, cradling a bundle in his arms.
‘What’s that?’ I muttered, switching on the bedside light and reaching for my glasses. Oh my... it was Spencer! ‘He came though the cat flap as
the kettle was boiling,’ explained Mick.
‘He came home all by himself?’ I gasped in surprise.
‘No, I think God brought him back to us,’ said Mick. ‘It was the power of that prayer.’
Spencer was painfully thin, our normally chubby moggy had lost 2kg. And he was filthy, his little white paws covered in dirt. But the vet checked him over and said he was fine, he just needed feeding.
‘That does it, he’s grounded,’ I laughed, locking the cat flap.
That was almost a year ago and he’s never disappeared since.
We spent over £1,000 and hired a professional pet detective, but in the end all that was needed was the power of prayer.
It was a wonderful, belated Christmas miracle!
We lit two candles and said a special prayer
Fur-baby: My boy was missing for seven weeks
Fully recovered: Frightening ordeal
Sad Christmas: Missing Spencer