Santa Katerina tat-Torba Chapel, Qrendi

Sometimes, places that are close by can be the most difficult to reach; not because of some physical block but rather because of a mental one.  I had long planned to go to this chapel but, for one reason or another, always kept postponing despite it being a few minutes’ drive away.  When I did make it, early one Sunday morning, the place was so peaceful and quite that it seemed like a silent reprimand for my hesitation.

The beauty of looking into a history of a chapel like this one is that you start to get brief glimpses to what it meant to live in Malta almost half a millennium back.  Doing that I found that this wasn’t the first chapel to be built here but rather one of which most details have been lost with the exception that by 1624 it had been torn down.  Yet, within two years another chapel had arisen which stood, according to official records some twelve steps away from the old one.

This chapel, the one that is still there to this day, came through the efforts of Benedetto Camilleri a landowner who guaranteed that part of his earnings would go to the maintenance and upkeep of this chapel.  He kept his word to the extent that the rent on the lands that he had earmarked for this purpose was still being paid up till some thirty years back.  Talk about having a lasting legacy.

What is particularly telling, however, is that this chapel is dedicated to Saint Catherine.  Up till 1618, Qrendi still formed part of Zurrieq so it is hardly surprising that by the late 1620 the local parishioners’ primary devotion lay with the patron of that village.  It also explains why a new chapel in her honour was built so quickly after the old one had been torn down.

Given how passionate the locals are to their own patrons nowadays, it is somewhat weird to think of a time when this wasn’t the case.  Yet it is also a refreshing reminder of how temporal everything is; given enough time what is seen as unalterable today might not be so definite after all.

Want to visit this chapel?  These are the directions.


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