The quiet Carinthian village of Malta, Austria, is home to a peculiar fresco that is some 600 years ahead of its time. On the wall of Maria Hilf Assumptio, the parish church that dates back to the 11th century, there is a medieval depiction of what appears to be Mickey Mouse.
The village of Malta dates back to before Roman settlement. Ödenfest Castle was built on the northern slopes of the Maltatal Valley in the early 11th century, and historical records mention a church beneath the castle around the same time. The structure that is home to Maria Hilf Assumptio today was built slowly over the course of many years between the 13th and the 15th centuries.
During restoration work in 2002, the fresco was discovered on the church’s wall. It depicts Saint Christopher surrounded by a group of animals, including an anthropomorphic mouse with a cartoonish grin, big round ears, and a pointy nose, looking like a spitting image of the iconic Disney character. The fresco itself is thought to date to the 14th century.
When it was first discovered, the “hidden Mickey” attracted a fair amount of media coverage as well as visitors to the village, but today the church’s popularity has rather faded.