Chapel of Our Lady of Graces, Qrendi

It is, frankly, difficult to stand still and take in the everyday beauty of a chapel like this when the heat of the Maltese summer is gearing up.  Even if it is relatively early in the morning – half past six – the rising humidity turns the sky milky blue and all you want to do is to crawl somewhere cool.

The heat is such that the only people around are the adrenaline junkies - joggers and cyclists for whom a long run or cycle on Sunday is a must regardless of the weather - and the more traditional horse jockeys taking their majestic beasts through different paces to help flex all of their muscles.  Adrenaline junkies of a different form, if you want.

Otherwise you don't see a soul.  People are still sheltering inside and the whirring of air conditioners in otherwise silent streets is their signal.

Times change and so do habits.  When most work was manual and outside, staying in late was not an option.  It is why chapels like this have windows next to the main entrance; these used to be kept open so that anyone passing by could say a prayer no matter how early it was.

Today the only open window isn't a sign of devotion but neglect.  Where once there must have been a window on top of the main door, now there is only a gaping hole that that leaves the inside of the chapel exposed to the elements.

A plaque on the side of the chapel informs that this was built around 1658 thanks to a merchant by the name of Angelo Spiteri.  Originally it was dedicated to our Lady of Victories with a feast being celebrated on the 8th of September.  This changed in 1781 when the chapel was turned over to Our Lady of Graces and the feast postponed to the first Sunday after the 8th of September.

Sadly, no reason is given as to why this change of heart.


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