(in German)

Another version
of this legend
The three-legged cat

(version I / version II / version III)

High in the rocks above the town may be seen the remains of a grotto which once served as a hermitage for the Holy Cjrrillius. At night the candle before his tiny altar shone like a fixed star of hope for the villagers, above a wood through which no layman could be tempted to pass after dark because of the evil spirits that haunted it.

In the Benedictine abbey, outpost as it was of the church militant, courage was one of the chief requirements of him who would consecrate his life to the service of God. Hence tests, as severe in their way as those required for the gaining of knighthood, were as much a part of the seminary curriculum as philosophy and theology. It was the custom to send novices on midnight errands through the haunted wood. Only the pure of heart dared to go in the first place, and only the brave came back.

One night the prior called a novice before him and despatched him to visit Cyrillius.

"You will bring back from him" he ordered, "some token to show that you have reached his hermitage. Otherwise you will have to make the journey a second time."

Legends from an Echternach lost in history

"I can do no more for you," he told the cat. "Go out and find your paw. Bring it back to me and I shall put it back on."

The cat obeyed the command and hurried down to the village, only to find that the gates of the abbey were closed.

From that day to this the cat comes down from the hillside in search of her paw. The prospects of her finding it grow thinner every year.

(source of the text: click here)
So the novice set out.

He reached the hermitage without mishap, only to find that the holy man was not at home. He sat down to wait but realized after a stay of several hours that the hermit was quite likely to remain away until after daybreak. To wait that long would be to incur the suspicion of the prior, for it was widely known that the evil wraiths of the haunted wood disappeared at the first peep of dawn.

While the novice was pondering upon the problem of conduct, a black cat, long the pet of Cyrillius, rubbed against his leg. At once his course became clear to him. The cat was the only thing save altar furniture in die grotto, hence the cat must furnish him with the token of his visit. Without further ado he cut off one of the creature's forepaws. With the cat's foot in his pocket he went back down the lonely hill to the abbey.

Shortly after his departure Cyrillius returned, to find his pet mewing in pain on the floor. He boiled up the wound and might have healed the injury save for the fact that the severed paw had been carried away.