A History of Instability

When access to the Chapel of Annunciation in Siggiewi was closed off due to the huge cracks that had started to appear along the walls of the chapel signalling the very serious danger that the whole structure could collapse, the reaction was a mixture of anger and sadness.  It was a natural response in the face of the possible loss of a beloved landmark.

What was perhaps lost amid all of the (largely online) despair was the knowledge that this particular chapel has a history of, for want of a better word, instability.

Indeed, the chapel suffered extensive damage during an earthquake in 1693 and again following the earthquake that hit the Maltese islands on the 12th of October in 1856.  It is difficult to imagine how much energy was wasting being sad about what had happened but hazarding a guess it probably was not much; since life was considerably harsher people were also considerably more pragmatic back then.  On both occasions they simply got on with the task of building it once again pretty quickly after it collapsed.  

Which, perhaps, is what should happen today as well.  That does not mean allowing the chapel to collapse, that would be a shameful disregard the Maltese heritage, but rather actually doing something to fix the situation rather than complain about it.

After all this is a chapel with a rich history.  Just how back that history goes, however, is not really known as there is uncertainty over when the first chapel was built.  By 1494, however, it was already in place (there are indications that it was built a decade earlier) and since then it has always been pretty well maintained.

Indeed there was quite a devotion for the chapel that was more commonly known as Ta’ l-Gholja (of the hill) due to its location on top of a hill.  Particularly devoted were sailors since this hill’s peak was one of the first glimpses they got of Malta; certainly a welcome sight especially after a spell out in rough seas.

The hill remains one that attract devotees, particularly on Maudy Thursday but not the chapel itself.  In the past this devotion always ensured that the chapel got rebuilt

For further information about the Chapel of the Annunciation go here (Maltese text only)


Post a Comment