From the first migrants who claimed this land as their home, to its 2004 accession into the EU, Malta’s rich history is only paralleled by the artistic legacy of its people. Our islands are alive with a love for culture and we believe in sharing that passion with readers from around the world.
On this blog, run by the Wignacourt Centre, we shall be looking at the marvellous artefacts and splendid history of the baroque residence of the Chaplains of the Knights of Malta in Rabat – the Wignacourt’s stunning home. We will also be unravelling the incredible tales behind the adjoining Christian shrine of St Paul’s Grotto, which attracts thousands of people every year.
Run by culture lovers, and with input from historic experts from across the world, this blog will be delving deep into the convoluted pasts of our most famous artists. It will be looking for the inspiration behind our treasured artefacts and exploring the tangled history of our beloved island. It will also bring fascinating cultural and social news to the fore, while vivaciously celebrating the many brilliant people who are part of the Wignacourt, as well as of our extended community in Rabat, Malta, and beyond.
We hope you enjoy exploring the articles here, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Wignacourt in the future!
The Wignacourt Museum
The Wignacourt Collegiate Museum at Rabat Malta has been reopened after a thorough refurbishment of the whole building – a baroque residence of the Chaplains of the Knights of Malta inaugurated by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt (1601-1622) as well as of its contents.
It forms part of a Pauline complex just outside the walls of the old Roman City of Malta and is materially linked to St Paul’s Grotto, the cradle of Christianity in Malta, the place where St Paul the Apostle in A.D. 60 is believed to have founded the first Christian Community on the island.
The building, fully completed in 1749, is on three levels: the underground level consists of a labyrinth of Punic, Roman and Christian Hypogea with interesting architectural features as well as a complex of World War II shelters with two main corridors and fifty rooms.
The ground floor level consists of a corridor with on one side a number of rooms used as offices and minor collections and on the other side a spacious garden with a built area which once included the refectory of the Chaplains of the Order and an oven which during World War II provided daily more than 2000 loaves for the population of Rabat
The main floor has an impressive picture gallery with works by Mattia Preti, Antoine Favray, Francesco Zahra and other Maltese as well as European Artists. Also a collection of 17th- 19th century Spanish, Italian and Maltese silver; a unique wooden altar used for the celebration of Mass on the galleys of the Order of the Knights of Malta; a collection of old relics and reliquaries, sculptures in wood, alabaster and bronze, including a medallion by Alessandro Algardi; maps, coins, prints and rare books among which is King Henry VIII’s ‘Septem Sacramants” written to confute Martin Luther and above all a baroque chapel for the private devotions of the residing chaplains.