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Title: Historical connections between the foundlings in Naples and in Malta
Authors: Borg Farrugia, Christine
Keywords: Foundlings -- Malta -- History -- 19th century
Foundlings -- Italy -- Naples -- History -- 19th century
Foundlings in literature
Orphanages -- Malta -- History -- 19th century
Santo Spirito Hospital (Rabat, Malta) -- History
Orphanages -- Italy -- Naples -- History -- 19th century
National Archives of Malta (Rabat, Malta)
Real Casa Santa dell'Annunziata (Naples, Italy) -- History
Sacra Infermeria (Valletta, Malta) -- History
Malta -- History -- 19th century
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: University of Malta. Junior College
Citation: Borg Farrugia, C. (2018). Historical connections between the foundlings in Naples and in Malta. Symposia Melitensia, 14, 91-103
Abstract: In most European countries children were considered ‘miniature adults’: they lived in the streets and had lost their innocence. Parents rarely showed affection towards their children and, in most cases, they considered them a burden, especially if their birth contributed towards worse economic conditions. Since sex was quite open and people were unaware of natural contraceptive methods, many abandoned children were registered as ‘ex parentibus ignotis’. The hushed walls of the orphanages conceal terrible stories of newborns and children left in the Foundling Wheel. Each stone of those buildings has a story to narrate and, the revelation of these experiences, inevitably leads to pain. In 19th-century Naples, the Annunziata was considered the worst of these institutions, as stated in the novel Ginevra o l’orfana della Nunziata by Antonio Ranieri. The author reveals the cruelty of abandonment: the reasons that drove parents to abandon their children to the hope of reclaiming them back in the future; from the ceremony during which children were branded to the surname that stigmatized their existence and that of their future generations; from the description of the fiendish nannies to the cruelty of their actions. Even Francesco Mastriani in La Medea di Porta Medina and I vermi portrays the pain of these children. In Malta, the abandonment of unwanted children in the foundling wheel took place in the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in Rabat, then in the Sacra Infermeria in Valletta. While leafing through the old documents found in the National Archives of Santo Spirito at Rabat, we can observe obvious connections between the orphanages for foundlings in Malta and the Nunziata of Naples, as narrated by 19th-century Neapolitan authors. In the documents found in Malta attention is given to the nannies, their treatment of children, and the payments received for nursing and raising them. Today the foundling wheels are still there to remind us about these children and remain symbols of violence and solidarity, misery and compassion. They form part of that history we should never forget, an ineffaceable monument like the literary masterpieces that have portrayed them, a warning so that such horrific experiences will never be repeated.
ISSN: 1812-7509
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - JCIta
SymMel, 2018, Volume 14
SymMel, 2018, Volume 14

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