A Journal of the University of Malta Medical School

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Volume 29, Issue 3    (go to table of contents)


Valetta 2018: Medical heritage

Charles Savona-Ventura

Malta Medical Journal, 2017: 3; 1

In the wake of the 1565 Great Siege, the Order of the Hospital of Saint John committed itself to building a new fortified city on the peninsula straddling the two harbours. After the foundation stone of the city was laid on the 28 th March 1566, the work on Valletta Humillissima progressed without interruption and the Convent formally transferred its abode from Birgu Vittoriosa to the new city on the 18 th March 1571. The administrative move required also the development of plans to build a new Sacra Infermeria in the new city for the eventual transfer of the medical services so essential to the original raison d'ętre of the Order. Building works on the hospital commenced in 1574 and completed four years later. The Valletta Sacra Infermeria, supplied by a dedicated hospital pharmacy, was managed by defined regulations laid down and codified by the Chapter-General of the Order in 1588. 1 In 1725, the past regulations were collected and published in one volume entitled “Notizia della Sacra Infermeria, e della carica delli Commissari delle Poveri Inferme”. 2 These latter regulations covered all facets of health care services provided by the Order. A copy of the hospital regulations was hung up in the hospital for the guidance of the patients in order that the rules of the institution could be more surely and exactly observed. The hospital doors were open to all, except “to assassins, to such as pillage the country by night, to incendiaries, to sodomites, to conspirators, nor to robbers.



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