Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Faith, the Brave Little Church Cat of WWII





In September, when I shared stories of some cats from World War II, 
I promised to share the story of a special cat who deserved a post of her own! Her touching story brought a tear to my eye.

On Watling Street in London at St. Augustine's and St. Faith's rectory, Fr. Henry Ross had an unexpected visitor. A thin little cat had followed the aroma of breakfast to the second floor. Ther verger (one who takes care of the sanctuary and order of service) tried to throw the persistent feline out for the third time. Henry was concerned the cat looked thin and cold. The verger's wife liked cats and Henry asked if she would bring a box for the little feline along with some bowls for feeding her.


Used with permission from
http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/famous/faith.html
article: "Faith, the Church Cat"
After no one in the congregation answered Henry’s message in the church bulletin, attempting to find the cat’s true home, he happily made her the church cat and thought that the name “Faith” would fit, since she hadn’t given up on finding a home in the church. Faith enjoyed the full range of the church and mice to catch. She grew fatter and even attended services. She curled up at Fr. Ross’ feet as he preached. When he wasn’t the celebrant, she sat on the front pew. The little cat became a well-loved fixture in the church.

In 1940 she’d grown plumper than usual and it was discovered she was expecting. One August morning, Henry found she’d given birth to a male kitten. Due to his black and white markings he was named “Panda.”

On September 6, Faith somehow communicated to Henry to follow her all the way from the second floor down to the basement door. She persisted until he opened it for her. Faith made her way down to the basement and Henry left the door open for her. Later, she transported her kitten, Panda, down to the cold, musty basement.

When Faith's basket stayed empty. Henry found them in the basement both between two piles of retired sheet music. He brought Panda back upstairs to where the two cats would be warmer while Faith followed. 


Lucka97, 2011,(CC) from Wikimedia Commons.
Perhaps, with his black ears and tail, and
white body, Panda looked a little like this kitten.
Henry went to lead a church service, but Faith didn’t attend that time. Instead, he later found she had taken Panda back to the basement. He brought the kitten up again. This happened a few times before he decided to consult the verger’s wife and some of the other church ladies. They seemed to believe that Faith felt her kitten was in some sort of danger.

On September 9, Henry rode his bike to Westminster for business. When he was returning later that day, the air raid sirens had begun. He was forced to spend the night in a shelter. The next day, amidst the destruction he made his way back to Watling Street. Though the church tower still stood, most of the church was a twisted mess.

A fireman warned Henry that what was left of the roof could collapse at any moment. Still, Father Ross searched determinedly through the rubble for his beloved feline companions. He called to Faith until he heard a faint mew. He finally found her under the old singed sheet music, nursing her kitten, while surrounded by the smoking rubble.

St. Augustine's, Watling Street
London, by ChrisO, current photo,
from Wikipedia.org (CC)

Henry, overjoyed, moved them to safety before the roof collapsed. The verger and his wife invited him and the cats to stay with them until the rectory would again be inhabitable.

In 1945, Faith was given an honorary Dickin medal and citation for her bravery, even though she wasn’t a military cat. The Archbishop of Canterbury even attended the ceremony at St. Augustine’s! Even across the pond, the Greenwich Village Humane League in New York had gotten wind of her story and made sure her story was printed and shared.

Panda grew up into a handsome tom and eventually went to become the in-residence cat at a nursing home, where I’m guessing he brought joy to many of the residents. Then one morning in 1948, after Henry gave Faith her breakfast, she laid down in front of the fireplace for a nap and peacefully passed away.

She was buried near the churchyard gate and was remembered by the congregation in a service. After her act of bravery to protect her kitten during the Luftwaffe bombing, her photograph was placed on a chapel wall with this tribute below it:



Photo from Popular Social Science article "The Cats that
Fought WWII: The Allies"
"Faith"
Our dear little church cat of St. Augustine and St. Faith.
The bravest cat in the world. On Monday, September 9th, 1940, 
she endured horrors and perils beyond the power of words to tell.
Shielding her kitten in a sort of recess in the house (a spot
she selected three days before the tragedy occurred), she
sat the whole frightful night of bombing and fire, guarding her
little kitten. The roofs and masonry exploded. The whole house
blazed. Four floors fell through in front of her. Fire and water
and ruin all round her.Yet she stayed calm and steadfast and 
waited for help.We rescued her in the early morning while the
place was still burning, and By the mercy of Almighty God, she and
her kitten were not only saved, but unhurt. God be praised and
thanked for His goodness and mercy to our dear little pet.
(Used with permission from: 
http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/famous/faith.html)

For a more complete story of Faith, go to: Purr-n-Fur UK for the article "Faith, the Church Cat", by Patrick Roberts, where much of this information was found and you can find more delightful stories about famous felines!

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser


6 comments:

  1. Kathleen, what a beautiful, yet sad in a way with the church being destroyed, story about Faith and her little son, Panda. I enjoy cat stories, thus will have to read the entire article. Thank you for sharing. Blessings for a beautiful Thanksgiving.

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  2. Hi Marilyn, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, it is such a poignant story about a little cat who made a big impact and inspired the people around her to be brave in the face of attack. Have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!

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  3. How sweet! Thanks for this story!

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    1. Thanks, Connie R. Heart melting, isn't it?

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  4. Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Ann. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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