Saving Faith

She was just a simple stray, dirty and underfed. Her ribs showing this cat needed some tender loving care.  In 1936 she found the place for this care, St. Augustine’s and St. Faith’s Church on Waiting Street in London.

Thomas Evans the church’s verger discovered this poor stray cat in the church and tossed her out on the street.  Indignant she searched for another entrance, but once again Evans tossed her out. A third time she tried but Evans found her again and ejected her.

Finally she found a window that was not fully closed and squeezed through. Exploring the room she spotted a pile of rags and purring contentedly she settled down for the night.

She awoke the next morning as the sun was peeking through the shutters. Her stomach growling she set off in search of food. Room after room she searched until she spotted a warm glow ahead. A thin line of light spilled out from a partially open door.

Eagerly she pushed on the door until it opened wide enough for her to pass through.  A warm fire crackled in the hearth spreading a golden glow throughout the room.  A wondrous scent of sausage and bacon hung in the air and her stomach growled once again.  Across the room a man sat eating a full English breakfast and sipping tea.

Stealthily she crept toward the man following that heavenly smell intent on gaining some of that bacon.  But another man grabbed her from behind and picked her up.

“You again”, said Evans. “How many times do I have to throw you out of here?”

“Easy Thomas”, said Father Ross the other man, “Bring in a dish we can pour some cream in. The poor creature is just hungry.”

“But Father”, protested Evans, “if we feed her we will have that much harder time getting her to leave.  I’m just trying to save us the trouble; we have never had a cat here before.”

“Thomas we do not need to get rid of her, we must show mercy. For as the Lord says in the gospel of Matthew, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.’   Let us find her a place to sleep and see if anybody claims her.  But until then she must have a name, letus call her Faith after the name of our church plus she has shown great faith in her efforts to stay here.”

“Well my wife Rosalind likes cats”, said Evans. “I suppose we can find her some place to sleep.”

So Rosalind Evans was called in and she knew exactly what to do.  She found a medium sized basket and lined it with old blankets for Faith to sleep in.  Next to this she placed a shallow dish for cream and a dish for food.  She crumbled up some sausage in the dish for Faith and added cream to the other.  When Faith had finished eating she crawled into the basket to examine the soft blankets.  Snuggling down in the blankets, she showed her approval by purring contentedly.

Nobody claimed her so Faith became a permanent resident of the church.  Faith was grateful to her benefactor Father Ross and worked hard to prove herself.  She explored every nook of the church and rectory, cleansing them of rodents.  She also attended every service with Father Ross, sitting at his feet in the pulpit if he was speaking or sitting in the front row with him if he was not.

Faith became a well-loved member of the church.  The older members would bring in treats for her which she would daintily accept.  She was no longer skin and bones, Faith had found the TLC she had needed.

One August morning in 1940 while having tea Rosalind noticed that Faith looked just a little bit plumper.  Was Clara the alter guild lady bringing in too many extra treats for Faith?  Faith did not care, she just sat there licking her lips and waiting for some cream.

A few weeks later, towards the end of the month Faith failed to awaken Father Ross.  Every morning she would enter his room and jump on his bed licking him in the face to awaken him.  Today she had failed to do so.  Father Ross went looking for her and found her curled up in her basket.

Lying next to her was the reason she was still there.  Over the night Faith had just had a kitten, a tiny tom cat white with black ears and tail.  An announcement was made and a celebration was held. The church choir celebrated his birth by singing All Things Bright And Beautiful at the Sunday service.   They decided to name the young kitten Panda since his black and white coloring resembled that of the bear.

A few weeks later Father Ross noticed Faith trying to open the door into the basement.  When he had opened it for her she went and grabbed Panda by the scruff of his neck and took him downstairs into the cold dank basement.  Thinking that it would be bad for him down there, Father Ross carried Panda back up to his basket with Faith following and protesting all the way.

Twice more Faith took Panda down to the basement with Father Ross moving him back upstairs.  Finally he consulted with Rosalind and some other women in the church who decided that Faith thought Panda must be in some danger upstairs.  They felt the best thing to do would be to move the basket down to the basement and humor Faith.

The following day on September 7 the Battle of Brittan had begun.  The Luftwaffe sent 348 bombers escorted by 617 fighters to batter the city of London.  The bombing started at 4 p.m. and continued until 4 a.m.  Father Ross had business away from the church that day and spent the next night in an air raid shelter.

When he returned to the church on September 9 it was destroyed from the attack.  There were small fires everywhere and support timbers laying in the rubble.  The rescuers asked Father Ross if anyone had been in the church at the time of the attack and he replied that only Faith and Panda were there.

The firemen told him they were most likely dead and he needed to leave as the building could collapse at any moment.  But acting on faith, Father Ross struggled through the building to the spot in the basement where he had taken the cat’s basket. They were still there, huddles in the blankets Faith covering Panda with her body.  Father Ross grabbed the basket and carried them out of the church just before the roof collapsed.

Father Henry had Faith’s photograph taken and hung on the chapel wall.  This was displayed below the photo:

“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.

 

Her devotion and bravery became well known throughout London, inspiring many a person through the dark days of the war. Faith could not be awarded the Dickens Medal because she was a civilian pet. A special silver medal was made instead and presented to Faith by the Archbishop of Canterbury on October 12, 1945.

 

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