I’m in a beautiful village called La Romieu with a population of about 500. It’s in Southwest France in the Mid Pyrenees region. I took the photograph on the left this morning. The legend of the cats and an adopted girl girl called Angeline draws people from all over France. It is written here by Margo Lestz.
“In 1338, a little girl called Angeline was born in La Romieu. While she was still very young, both her parents died suddenly, and she was adopted by a kind couple that lived nearby. As Angeline grew, so did her love for cats and there were always a few that followed her wherever she went.
During this time, two years of severe weather caused a famine and the townspeople were hungry. They were searching everywhere for anything that was edible. Soon the village cats started to disappear as the starving villagers resorted to eating cat stew. Angeline was horrified and begged her adoptive parents to let her hide a couple of cats in the attic. They couldn’t say no to the poor child. She had already lost her parents and they didn’t want her to suffer the loss of her beloved cats as well, so they agreed. Since Angeline hid one male and one female, her kitten collection increased steadily.
Finally, to everyone’s relief, the weather improved, crops flourished, and food was again plentiful. But because there hadn’t been any cats to patrol the village streets, the rats had overrun the town and were ravaging the crops. The townspeople held a meeting to try to find a solution. Everyone was surprised but happy when Angeline announced that she had twenty cats (as the cat population in her attic had increased tenfold) and they would be more than happy to help with the rat problem. All were in agreement and the cats were let loose in the village. The rats soon disappeared and the crops were no longer threatened.
Village life returned to normal and Angeline went back to helping her adoptive parents work in the fields, always surrounded by her cats. But as she grew older, something very strange happened to Angeline: people say her face began to take on the appearance of a cat and even her ears transformed into pointed cat ears. A bust of Angeline, looking very cat-like, can be seen on one of the buildings in the village.
Like Angeline’s cats of long ago, it’s Serreau’s cats that are helping La Romieu today. His cat sculptures have become a popular tourist attraction.”