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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Pope's story through eyes of cat
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

Picture taken at the end of the year 1932 shows Josef Ratzinger as a schoolboy in Aschau am Inn.
The book tells Josef Ratzinger's life from childhood onwards

The Pope has given his consent to a new children's book that tells the story of his life through the eyes of his cat.

The book, called Joseph and Chico, has been written by an author from Milan.

Who could have a more personal insight into the life of the Holy Father than his favourite cat Chico, a nine-year-old ginger tom?

In 44 pages Chico recounts his memories of the young Joseph Ratzinger, growing up in a Bavarian family in Nazi Germany.

It follows his early years as a priest and ends with his election as leader of the Church in April 2005.

It has been written by an Italian author, Jeanne Perego, who has never met the Pope.

But her book is full of detail, illustrations and, of course, the odd Christian message.

Indeed, Chico reveals how one Christmas he attacked the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, leaving him with scratches to his face.

"He forgave me instantly," he says.

Cat lover

The Pope is famous for his love of cats. His friend, Konrad Baumgartner, from Regensburg University said the cats in the cemetery behind the local church knew the Pope well and loved him.

When he visited, he added, they often ran to see him and he would stand and talk to them for some time.

The introduction to the book has been written by Father Georg Ganswein, the Pope's personal secretary, which would tend to suggest the Pope has read it or at least given it his consent.

In his preface, Father George says it is a unique story of the Holy Father.

"You will find," he writes, "that as well as cats, the Pope loves you children and he prays for you every day."



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The Pope has known Chico the cat for many years



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