Aħrax Chapel of Mellieħa

This chapel is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It is also known as the Chapel of the Niche (tan-Niċċa in Maltese), due to a nearby niche which today no longer exists, but a few meters away one finds an outdoor statue of the Immaculate Conception placed on a high pedestal. This desolate plateau is almost barren because for ages it suffered from erosion due to strong winds. Its very name, “l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa,” means the rugged, rocky, and wild land. The original chapel was built in the beginning of the 1900s on the edge of a cliff; however, due to extensive damage it suffered, hence becoming very dangerous, it was rebuilt further inland in 1961. Until a few years ago some remains of the original chapel were still on the edge, but everything vanished, even to the last stone (probably stolen), leaving us with no tangible record of the its heritage and history. This is even more unfortunate since this chapel had a very strong tie to the folklore of the whole locality.

[summarized and translated from Kappelli Maltin (Maltese Chapels) website]

Bir Miftuħ Chapel of Gudja

The church is dedicated to St. Mary of August. The Church of Bir Miftuħ (a literal translation is “open well,” but here probably means “gushing spring”) is very old. Indeed, it was built over 600 years ago. In 1436, an ecclesiastical report on the Maltese Islands (known as the Rollo), mentioned the 10 old parishes found in Malta and Gozo at that time -- one of them was the Parish of Bir Miftuħ.  The church itself is situated in an olive grove.  As it lies opposite Malta International Airport, it is one of the first interesting sites that visitors notice the minute they land in our country. The Bir Miftuħ church is a fine example of medieval architecture, simple in construction with no elaboration, neither on the exterior walls nor on the interior ones. During extensive restoration works carried out a few years ago, many interesting historical artifacts were unearthed.  These increased the historical and architectural significance of the old Church.

[summarized and translated from Kappelli Maltin (Maltese Chapels) website]

St. Mary Magdalene Chapel of Dingli

This is one of the most beautiful chapels in Malta, which is also known as “Kappella ta’ Santa Marija Maddalena ta’ Fuq l-Rdum,” meaning “Chapel on the Cliff of St. Mary Magdalene,” since it was built right on the edge of Dingli cliffs, on the east coast of Malta. In the past fishermen used this chapel as a navigation reference point. Nobody really knows when it was originally built, nevertheless, we do know that it is very ancient and that it already existed in 1446. St. Magdalene’s chapel used to cater for the spiritual needs of farmers and their families who lived on the farms under the cliffs and in the surrounding countryside. The panorama from its location is second to none. Indeed, the views are so breathtaking that one can really feel in communion with the Almighty, and praise and thank Him for the gift of nature given to us. Due to extensive damage, the chapel was rebuilt in 1646.

[summarized and translated from Kappelli Maltin (Maltese Chapels) website]

St. Basil and St. Michael the Archangel Chapels of Mqabba

The architecture of St. Basil’s chapel (left) is a medieval gem. It is not exactly known when devotion to this saint of the Orthodox Church began in Mqabba. It is thought that in the Middle Ages, when the Muslims were invading Europe, some foreigners fled from their countries and sought refuge in Mqabba, where they built a church dedicated to the saint they venerated back home. In recent years studies have shown that this church already existed in 1486. A devotional feast used to be celebrated on June 14. According to tradition, this is the day when St. Basil was ordained priest. The titular painting was a wooden triptych Byzantine-style Icon, which depicted the Madonna in the center, and St. Basil and St. Joseph on the sides. Some say that the central place reserved to the Madonna is proof that the main feast was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, notwithstanding the dedication of the church to St. Basil. The church of St. Michael (right) is adjacent to the church of St. Basil. In fact, there is access from one church to the other through a side aperture, even though both churches have their own main doors. It seems that originally this church was built in 1550; however, it was rebuilt in 1669. The popularity of this church and the three statues in the village dedicated to this Archangel show the great devotion to St. Michael there was in Mqabba.

[summarized and translated from Kappelli Maltin (Maltese Chapels) website]

St. Matthew Chapels of the Maqluba (Qrendi)

In this site there are two chapels adjacent to each other, both dedicated to St. Matthew. One is medieval, surely built before the 15th century, and the other built between 1674 and 1682. The medieval one is also called Smaller St. Matthew (San Mattew iz-Żgħir in Maltese) and the other is one Larger St. Matthew (shown in the photo), (San Mattew il-Kbir in Maltese). Smaller St. Matthew is smaller than the other, however, these adjectives do not refer to the size of the churches, since in the Maltese language “żgħir” and “kbir” are masculine, and hence they cannot refer to churches or chapels. In actual fact, they probably refer to sizes of titular paintings or statutes which were in these chapels. The term “Maqluba” means “turned up-side-down” or “inverted.” This locality is called Maqluba because according to tradition a community of people residing in the area lived a life of debauchery and perversion. The tradition goes on to say that on November 24, 1343, a violent storm and an earthquake hit this land, which sank and turned up-side-down, swallowing them up. Only a good woman, who was praying in the smaller chapel survived the ordeal. Another version says that only a group of nuns survived. Many argue that the geological phenomenon known as sinkhole is a more plausible explanation of the Maqluba happenings, rather than a supernatural event.

[summarized and translated from Kappelli Maltin (Maltese Chapels) website]

Interior of Smaller St. Matthew Medieval Chapel (“San Mattew iz-Żgħir”)