WELCOME

This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wayside Chapels (3) – St Agatha’s Chapel

A simple facade – totally unassuming and easily missed amongst the more ostentatious palaces and houses of the old capital.

 Rabat & Mdina (22)

A clean, uncluttered interior; for the most part unadorned – virginal, almost, like the saint it is dedicated to.

 Rabat & Mdina (20)

And as the eyes get used to the dimness they are drawn, by coincidence or by design, to the only source of light pouring down from the sky above.

 Rabat & Mdina (21)

In the silent sanctuary prayers are fervently whispered and comfort is taken in the certain knowledge that they will be heard ….

 

A chapel to St Agatha was first built on this site in Mdina in 1410 by the nobleman Francesco Gatt and his wife Donna Paola Castelli. The original building was destroyed during a major earthquake that shook the island in 1693. The current chapel, also dedicated to St Agatha, was built in 1694 and was designed by renowned Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa who was also responsible for the design of the cathedral of Mdina. Grand Master Wignacourt was present for the opening of this chapel in 1696.

Saint Agatha is one of the patron saints of the island together with Saint Paul and Saint Publius. There is a common belief here that Agatha escaped from her native Sicily because she was being persecuted for being a Christian and that she found refuge in Malta for a number of years. When she returned back to her homeland she was martyred by having both her breasts cut off.

When the Turks attacked the island in 1551 it is said that a nun had a vision in which Saint Agatha told her that the people of Mdina needed to take an image of her and all the soldiers and civilians were to carry it in a procession and place it on the bastions facing the enemy. The  Turks are said to have been so impressed by the sheer number of defenders that they left the island and attacked the sister island of Gozo instead – carrying away the majority of the population into slavery. Fact or fiction? What is certainly true is that the Turks did try to attack Malta in 1551 and, for some reason, turned away and attacked Gozo, decimating the population. The rest could be a unique mixture of fact and fiction that is so essential for the birth of legends.

In the past the chapel of St Agatha was only open on February 5th – the feast day of the saint – but in recent years, the chapel has been restored and is now open to the public on a regular basis.

9 comments:

  1. i really like the first image with a simple facade and the light, this image is beautiful in its simplicity! bye !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loree, you know how much I enjoy the story that goes with the photos (and vice versa). This is a wonderful way to share the history and legends of your beautiful island.
    xx
    Genie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loree! Love the new blog header..woah!! Superb!

    and I love this post..the first photo steals my heart. This post is so so beautiful..and the wonderful history and story as well..thanks for creating this,wonderful!
    Kiki~

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love it when unassuming façades end up in splendour. I too love your new header!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's a good thing the chapel is now open on a regular basis, it's beautiful. Did you know just how much I enjoy visiting Malta through your blog?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Howdy Loree
    Oh my I love the new look !
    What a rich history your Island home offers.
    I love the visual feast for the eyes as well as my soul .
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share the wonderful unique heritage Malta is blessed with .
    Have a truly fantastic week .
    I also want to thank you for understanding my long absences from blogging .
    I am off to care for my parents again so I will once more be miss hit and run in blogland.
    Take care sweet Lady and keep writing as well as collecting beautiful images.
    Until Next Time
    Happy Trails

    ReplyDelete
  7. How interesting and what a nice church !

    ReplyDelete
  8. A magnificent chapel and sanctuary, and most interesting legend.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails