Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/95620
Title: The development of late medieval churches on the Maltese Islands
Authors: Parker, Stanley (2018)
Keywords: Church buildings -- Malta
Kappella tal-Assunta, Bir Miftuħ (Gudja, Malta)
Knisja ta' Santa Katerina ta' Lixandra, San Girgor (Żejtun, Malta)
Fort Saint Angelo (Vittoriosa, Malta)
Rural churches
Mdina (Malta)
Rabat (Malta)
Victoria (Malta)
Chapels -- Malta
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: Parker, S. (2018). The development of late medieval churches on the Maltese Islands (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the origins and development of Christian churches on the Maltese islands from the re-Christianisation of Malta in the Norman period through to the arrival of the Knights of St John in 1530. It is important to appreciate the very large number of such churches. In 1575 the papal legate enumerated some 430, a remarkable number for such a small area and population. I have to ask why so many churches? One significant reason must have been the difficulty of travel. The main characteristic is that the vast majority of these churches are very limited in size. Most of them were intended to be used and indeed were used by a very small number of people who lived within easy reach of the church, though there are a few exceptions in the case of churches that travellers found convenient, which I will details in the course of this dissertation. Another remarkable feature is the variety of styles evident even in the comparatively few examples which have survived intact in whole or in part. Most were small and simple but they did include the sizeable Santa Marija ta' Bir Miftuħ, near Gudja, larger than what has survived, and the sophisticated Santa Caterina on the outskirts of Zejtun. Often the site determines characteristics. Despite the simplicity of these churches, there were still a variety of styles. Some had subsidiary buildings or annexes acting as sacristies. Others had subsidiary chapels attached. Many churches abutted each other. In a few cases three or even four churches existed side by side. Irrespective of their size they all had to be inspected by the Bishop. However slowly they had to travel yet they were much travelled men. They have left, usually detailed, records of their findings, still available today in the Archbishops' curial records in Floriana, though some are no longer easy to read. This is why they are, by and large, so fully documented. Not surprisingly Mdina and Rabat was full of small churches which were easier for the bishop to inspect and consequently were inspected more often. Likewise, to a lesser extent in a smaller community, Rabat and the Citadel in Gozo had several churches in the centre. Bishops in general usually spent a fair amount of time visiting Gozo, often including the one church on Comino as well. Some served as parish churches and were used at least weekly. The larger villages would give rise to several churches. It would seem however that the vast majority were those erected by a patron to provide a resting place for his bones and those of his family. Many of these are to be found dotted around the countryside, outside villages, where the patrons owned land. These could well be open only once a year, in the feast day of the saint who gave his name to the church. The two churches in the Castrum Maris, as was appropriate for the King's representative, followed the Latin, or Roman, rite, but it would seem from their names that the vast majority of the other churches reflected a connection with eastern Christianity. This is in some places evidenced by the freestanding altar in the Byzantine tradition, as at tal-Virtu on the limits of Rabat. It would seem that eastern monks were active in Malta in the course of its reconversion to Christianity.
Description: M.MALTESE STUD.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/95620
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsMS - 2018

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