Our Lady of Mercy

Address: Triq Il Knisja

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This small chapel stands on the spot where the ix-Xewkija – il-Qala and the ir-Rabat -l-Mġarr roads cross. According to Achille Ferres, as long ago as the year 1397 there was on this spot a church dedicated to St. Bartholomew. It must have been neglected and collapsed because there is no mention of it in Mgr. Dusina’s report of 1575. Yet, the historian Agius de Soldanis states that he had read in old documents that it was still standing in 1597.

It was rebuilt in 1643 by Notary Paolo de Lorenzo on land coming to him from the dowry of his wife, Petronilla Pontremoli, following the issue of a decree by Bishop Balaguer Camarasa dated 5th June, 1642. Petronilla had pledged herself to keep alight the altar lamp, to pay the expenses of the festa, and provide all that was necessary for the upkeep of the chapel. This notwithstanding, the same Bishop after only fifteen years deconsecrated the chapel. However, in 1674 Petronilla pressed for its reopening offering to endow it with the revenue from some land at tar-Ramla which she had inherited from Canon Salvu Pontremoli. Bishop Astiria gave his approval when Petronilla promised to celebrate the feast and to distribute bread to all the poor who visited the church on that day.

In 1735, when Dun Piet Aquilina was parish priest of Xewkija, the painting of St. Bartholomew was replaced by one showing Our Lady with St. Bartholomew and the souls in Purgatory, the work of Gian Nikola Buhagiar.

On 13th December, 1944 the Dominican nuns took over the management of the chapel, who still oversee its functioning until this day. Feasts are celebrated in honour of Our Lady on 17th September; and St. Bartholomew on 24th August.