Octogenarian Rosa Sammut has devised a cat village in her hometown. It’s easy to find. Just follow the cats to Rosa’s doorstep.
Cat Village, built crudely with small houses forming feline apartments, is set directly in front of Rosa’s home. When tourists have had all the five star luxury they can take, they are urged to get some local flavor at the seasonally decorated Cat Village. Though it is not part of the official island tour, everyone knows where it is.
The village is decorated with greeting cards, plaques and prayers, and names are scrawled on door tops declaring the homeowner Tom or Jerry; Dick or Harry. Christmas time, a sparkling tree adorns the cats’ lot. High above the cats, affixed to a branch, an angel twinkles. Across the street, their true-to-life guardian angel watches over them.
It’s a short walk up a steep hill into the heart of a woman whose adopted and changing feline family replaced the man she loved and lost. Rosa’s children have grown and gone. She stays, and with her remains fathoms of unrecorded Maltese history.
Recipient of the Anzjan tas-Sena award for taking care of the abandoned animals, Rosa proudly shows all visitors her framed letter of honor from the Prime Minister. Smitten townsfolk and tourists drop donations of food for the needy cats.
Rosa moved to England from Italy at 16 years old and worked as a housemaid in the Mountbatten’s home. It was there that she met the man she loves dearly to this day. Her wedding ring adorns her finger still. Rosa’s eyes moisten describing her wedding – she says that they had little more than each other. Lady Mountbatten and her friends assembled Rosa’s trousseau. Describing with her eyes closed the tiara and veil placed on her head by the Lady, Rosa relives the moment, tenderly moving her aged hands as if she was the Lady herself. Rosa, for that one day, was a Queen.
In time, Churchill appointed Mountbatten head of the Southeast Asia Command, and with Rosa and her husband they moved to the Mountbatten Malta residence.
Three feedings a day, 48 years later, Rosa continues the Cat Village of Valletta she started a lifetime ago.
Descended from one of the most ancient breeds in dog history, the Maltese Dog is believed to have originated on Malta. Representations of it are found on artifacts in ancient Egypt, where it was worshiped. It is mentioned in the writing of ancient poets, philosophers and historians including Aristotle. Called the Melitaie (ancient name for Malta) Dog by Romans and Greeks, it was used as an exotic article of trade in South Central Europe.
Historically, the Maltese dog has been cherished by aristocrats and royalty. Even today, some believe that the small dog (nicknamed “the comforter”) has healing powers when placed on the chest or stomach.
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