If you’ve never heard of Doorkins Magnificat, prepare to be impressed. Its story is the ultimate rags to riches story, one that’s good enough to be immortalized in a cathedral sculpture. You could probably surmise that the British cat is well loved. Not only is it getting a stone carving of its likeness installed in London’s Southwark Cathedral; Doorkins has even had a book written about it just last year. The cathedral cat may very well be the smallest member of the church, but it’s definitely one that’s fairly important.
The story of Doorkins starts when it was just a mere stray cat lurking around the streets of Borough Market, looking for scraps when it could. Doorkins is estimated to be about 13 years old now, so it was still a growing cat at 3 years old when it first started hanging around the Southwark Cathedral’s southwest doors back in 2008. Doorkins was obviously looking for food, and the cathedral staff was ready with open arms to take Doorkins in. However, it took a while before the cat even crossed the threshold into the church. This is exactly how it got its name—Doorkins—a tribute to famous British atheist and writer Richard Dawkins. Once inside the church, Doorkins acquired the last name Magnificat in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Since that fateful day when Doorkins finally entered the church, she’s been a full-time cathedral resident. She made herself right at home, so much that she even dared to cross the altar during service—many, many times. The regular churchgoers got used to seeing Doorkins around the church—walking the aisle, sitting by the altar, hanging out in the churchyard, or even sleeping on the dean’s seat during service. Her favorite time is during Advent, when she could often be seen hanging out on the nativity set, lying on the hay when she’s got nothing else to do.
I am absolutely chuffed to bits that this corbel depicting me will be blessed on Sunday by @BishopSouthwark @Southwarkcathed before being installed on the exterior of the retrochoir at a later date. I can keep my cats eyes on all the staff for many, many years to come 😸😸 pic.twitter.com/QZKzT4mL0c
— Doorkins Magnificat (@DoorkinsM) June 1, 2018
Doorkins has become quite the local celebrity over the last few years; but after the BBC aired her story, many people worldwide have flocked to the cathedral just to see Doorkins in her natural state. In addition to the book about her, Doorkins even has a line of merchandise and a social media presence that could be the envy of many. The church staff is hoping that Doorkins’ story would invite other people to visit the church and find something there worth staying for.
It’s been around 10 years now since Doorkins came into the lives of all the cathedral staff and churchgoers. Her memory will now be part of the cathedral forever as her likeness is carved into one of four corbels that are replacing the eroded ones in the cathedral’s north side. Doorkins’ carving was designed and created by Miriam Johnson, a Historic Carving student from the Guilds of London Art School. The carving itself almost has characteristics reminiscent of Egyptian cat carvings, but Doorkins’ corbel is certainly unique in the fact that it’s the only one in the world—and possibly throughout history—that’s ever been made in tribute of a once stray cat.
Corbels depicting @DoorkinsM @boroughmarket Wayne Marques @BTP and Suffragette Evelyn Sharp which were carved by students at @CGLArtSchool are to be installed high on the north choir aisle 20 August. If you haven't seen them then do come and visit whilst they are at ground level. pic.twitter.com/ueaVppNQ09
— Southwark Cathedral (@Southwarkcathed) August 10, 2018
The other three corbels that are being put up depict different things. One is a depiction of the nearby Borough Market where Doorkins have spent much of its kitten life. Another corbel is in tribute to famous suffragette Evelyn Sharp. The final corbel is made in the likeness of British police officer Wayne Marques, who was injured during the 2017 terror attack on the London Bridge. All the stone carvings have an installation scheduled on August 20, adding to the many memories that cover the walls of the centuries-old cathedral.
The story of Doorkins will likely surpass the cat’s nine lives. Unbeknownst to the cat, it has touched many churchgoers, staff, and visitors’ lives simply by just being around. Doorkins’ appeal is probably different for every individual, but there’s no doubt that this cat is now and forever will be a part of this church. If you ever get to visit the Southwark Cathedral, make sure you try to spot Doorkins somewhere. If you can’t find the cat anywhere, at least you can see its sculpture on the north side—forever commemorated on the cathedral walls.