This small chapel in the tiny (but rapidly expanding) village of Bahrija is dedicated to St Martin, Bishop of Tours. No one knows exactly when this chapel was built, however it is likely that it was constructed some time during the 15th century. According to the pastoral records of Bishop Molina the chapel was rebuilt in 1684. This very simple chapel is rectangular in shape with one small round window providing light for the interior. The belfry was built in 1946.
According to Christian tradition, Martin converted to Christianity against his parents wishes. While serving as a Roman soldier in Gaul he came across a scantily dressed beggar at the gates of Amiens. It is said that Martin cut his military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar who later revealed himself to be Jesus. The feast of St Martin is celebrated on November 11.
Here in Malta it is customary for children to be given a cloth bag filled with nuts, autumn fruits such as apples and oranges, dried figs and a type of sweet bread topped with an anise-tasting sweet (il-hobza ta San Martin or the bread of St Martin) for this feast.
This weekend the village of Bahrija will celebrate the feast of Saint Martin with an agricultural fair which will include a show for farm animals. I have yet to make it Bahrija for this feast mainly because the village is inundated by visitors who upset the usual peace and tranquility of this picturesque spot.
View from a small clearing next to the chapel of St Martin
St Martin’s Chapel
Photographed August 2011