Written by C. Rolé
Apart from the magnificent Parish Church situated in the heart of the village, the village of Żurrieq has a number of chapels spread all over the village. Even though the majority of these chapels are no longer in use, they used to be of great comfort to the villagers who used to live and work in their vicinities.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Nigret
The chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception is located in the area known as Nigret and consequently, it is sometimes referred to the Chapel of Nigret. This chapel was constructed by the Commander Fra James Togores de Valemuola on the site where a chapel dedicated to the Annunciation was located. The latter was deconsecrated by Bishop Balaguer on 24th November, 1658. On the 11th of October 1739, this chapel was consecrated by the Parish Priest Rev. Karm Delicata. This chapel was built adjacent to the Togores Palace, today used as a convent. Presently, the nuns residing in this convent take care of this chapel (Guillaumier, 1987).
This chapel is decorated with a small cupola, two altars and 2 bell towers. The main altarpiece painting is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception depicted with Saint James the Apostle, Saint Leonard and Saint Laurence. This painting is a work of art of a local artist and dates back to the 18th century. This church is also decorated with a statue dedicated to Saint Joseph, a work of art by Wistin Camilleri (Terrible, 2004).
The Chapel of Saint James
The chapel of Saint James is situated in the centre of the village, very near to the Parish Church itself. Built in a Baroque style, the chapel dates back to 1725. This chapel was built on a site previously occupied by 2 other chapels dedicated to St. James and St. John the Baptist. The construction of the chapel was completed in 1731. This chapel is decorated with a number of pilasters built in the Ionic style, on which a freeze is present throughout the parameter of the church. This chapel has three altars and on each one there is a painting decorated with a stone carved frame, a work of art by Paolo Zahra (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The prospective of the main altar of this chapel is divided into two, one starting from the entabulature upwards and the other one from the entabulature downwards. The main altarpiece depicts Our Lady holding Baby Jesus during a revelation to Saint James the Apostle. This work of art is attributed to Paolo Zahra (Terribile, 2004).
The altar situated on the left hand side of the chapel is dedicated to the Annunciation. This altarpiece depicts the mystery of the Annunciation, once again attributed to Zahra (www.kappellimaltin.com). On the other altar, situated on the right hand side of the chapel, there is a painting dedicated to Our Lady of the Light. This painting depicts two angles descending from the skies, holding a crown in their hand with the intention of placing it on the Virgin Mary, whilst baby Jesus is holding some hearts from a canister held by an angle. The figure of Saint John the Baptist is also depicted in this painting (Terribile, 2004).
The façade of this chapel is decorated by 3 doors, two of which were barricaded in the past. A window is present on each door in order to illuminate the chapel with natural light. This chapel is also decorated with a frontispiece with a small bell tower on the left side. This chapel is still in use today on a daily basis for adoration and liturgical ceremonies (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The Chapel of Saint Bartholomew
The current Chapel of Saint Bartholomew is situated on the location of a previous one dedicated to the same Saint. This chapel is situated in a street carrying the name of the same Saint a little distant from the Parish Church (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The old chapel was built in 1482, however due to the poor state of this chapel; Bishop Balgues deconsecrated it on 24th November, 1658. As a result, it was decided to rebuild this chapel and in 1775, the first stone was laid down. This chapel was consecrated in January of 1784 by the Parish Priest, Rev. Guiseppe Aguis (Guillaumier, 1987).
This chapel is built on a podium consisting of 4 steps surrounding the chapel from 3 sides. The interior of the chapel is in a form of a square. Apart from the main entrance, the chapel has another 2 entrances, one on the left and one on the right side of the chapel (www.kappellimaltin.com).
On the sides of the titular painting dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, one can admire 2 paintings dedicated to Saint Publius and Saint Vincent Ferreri. Under the titular painting, there is also a small painting dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the main entrance, there is also an organ balcony and a window on each side door is also present (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The paintings situated on the two altars of this chapel depict the transfiguration of Jesus and Saint Francis of Assisi. Under these paintings, one can find 2 small paintings, one dedicated to Our Lady and another one to Saint Claire (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The Chapel of Saint Luke the Evangelist
This chapel was built for the first time in the 15th century. In the archive of the Notary Luqa Sillato, one can note that this chapel was donated by the benefactor Luqa Zammit in his will, dated 1460 (Guillaumier, 1987). This chapel was rebuilt in 1814, thanks to the hard work carried out by Rev. Gwann Zammit. The main altarpiece of this chapel depicts Saint Luke, a work of art by Francesco Zahra. This painting is currently situated in the Parish Church sacristy. This painting dates back to 1743, as highlighted on the painting itself. At the entrance of the chapel's parvis, one can note a bust showing a spirit. This bust might have been situated there in commemoration of a possible previous cemetery situated in the near by region (Terribile, 2004).
The Chapel of Saint Andrew
Though this chapel is built in a simplistic way, it is still considered as one of the most graceful chapels in Żurrieq. This chapel is constructed on arches and dates back to 1775-1784. This chapel was built on a site previously occupied by another chapel dedicated to the same Saint. The main altar piece of this chapel shows the martyrdom of Saint Andrew and is attributed to Francesco Zahra. This painting is currently situated in the Parish Church sacristy (Terribile, 2004).
The Chapel of Saint Agatha
Originally this chapel was built in the 16th century and was larger than the present one. On 24th November, 1658, this chapel was deconsecrated by Bishop Balaguer. However, it was later rebuild from scratch thanks to donations made by the local community. The present chapel was built in 1854, thanks to Cikku Grixti and was consecrated by the General Vicar Dr. Rev. Filippu Amato in 1859 (Guillaumier, 1987). The lodge situated in front of the main entrance was built in 1900. The main altar piece of this chapel depicts the figure of Saint Agatha and dates back to the early 19th century. This painting is currently situated in the Parish Church sacristy (Terribile, 2004).
The Chapel dedicated to Our Lady at Baqqari
In the area known as Tal-Baqqari, one can note the remains of a very old chapel built after the 13th century. These remains consist of a number of broken columns (Guillaumier, 1987).
The Chapel dedicated to Our Lady at Bubaqra
The chapel dedicated to Our Lady at Bubaqra is built on the site previously occupied by two older chapels dedicated to Saint Sebastian and Saint Rocco. After the black plague of 1676, this chapel dedicated to Our Lady was built. Till 1961 this chapel was very limited in space and was therefore extended thanks to the hard work of Rev. Salv Farrugia. Thanks to this extension the chapel can now accommodate all the families that live in the near by areas (Guillaumier, 1987).
This chapel is decorated with a number of paintings exhibiting a good artistic level. Among these paintings one can note a painting dedicated to Saint Rocco, donated to this chapel by Chev. Riccardo De Riccis. Another painting situated in this chapel depicts Saint Sebastian and Saint Rocco. This painting was commissioned in order to commemorate the two previous chapels as mentioned above. This painting shows the influence of Zahra's painting style (Terribile, 2004).
The Chapel of Saint Leo the Pope
This chapel is located in the middle of the cemetery, located in the area known as Bubaqra. In 1576 this chapel suffered some structural damages and Mons. Dusina commissioned Rev. Gwann Zammit, Canon and rector of this chapel to perform the necessary works. In 1678, Rev. Salv Fenech commissioned some restoration works as this chapel was in a bad state and he also commissioned the restoration of the painting situated at the side of the chapel, representing the Assumption together with two saints (Guillaumier, 1987).
The Chapel of the Annunciation
The chapel of the Annunciation is a medieval chapel located in the area known as Ħal Millieri, hence it usually referred to as the Chapel of Ħal Millieri. This chapel was constructed around 1480 on the remains of a Roman Villa. The first description of this chapel can be found in the report compiled by Mons. Pietro Dusina after his pastoral visit in the village. In 1781 this chapel was deconsecrated by Bishop Labini since it was in a very bad state (www.kappellimaltin.com). In the early 19th century this chapel was restored by Ġuże Magro who took care of decorating the chapel with all the liturgical necessities for re-consecration. This chapel was consecrated in 1809 by Rev. Gaetan Buttigieg (Guillaumier, 1987).
This chapel is nowadays maintained in a good condition and is opened to the general public on every 1st Sunday of the month between 9:00am and noon. The feast of the Annunciation is still celebrated in this chapel Sunday after the 25th of March, where a solemn mass is celebrated in the morning for which occasion the chapel is decorated appropriately (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The Chapel dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist
Situated in near the Chapel of the Annunciation, one can find another chapel dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist. This chapel was built in 1640 on the area where another one was situated dating back to 1481. This chapel was deconsecrated in 1575 after the visit by Pietro Dusina (Guillaumier, 1987). In 1822 Rev. Gakbu Gauci considered the restoration of this chapel and commissioned his nephew Francesco Gauci who was a builder to perform this work. During the 20th century, this chapel was extended by the son of Francesco Gauci. All the work was completed by 1961 and was blessed by Bishop Gaetano Pace Forno (www.kappellimaltin.com).
The main altar piece depicts the St. John the Evangelist while writing the book of the apocalypse. The painting also depicts Our Lady during a revelation. This work of art had to be transferred from the chapel to the Saint Catherine's Parish due to security purposes, after various episodes of vandalism. This painting was replaced by a replica in order to leave the authentic features of this chapel (www.kappellimaltin.com).
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