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Madliena Tower

Madliena refers to three different sites on the island of Malta: a church in Valletta, chapels in Dingli, and St. Andrews, all of which are dedicated to Mary Magdalene. They are located on the Republic of Malta, a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago of a few islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya.


Madliena refers to three separate sites dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene on the island of Malta.


The Church in Valletta was built by the Knights of St. John. Inside there are religious sculptures, including one showing the role of St. Mary Magdalene as a nurse. Until recently,[when?] the church was used for building carnival floats, but today it has been left in ruins. Excavation works in front of St. John's Co-Cathedral were halted in 2010 for various technical reasons.

The Chapel in Rabat, under the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, was never opened. All artifacts were removed, except those dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, which were abandoned. Chambers and passages are sealed with no knowledge of what they might contain or where they might lead to.

The Chapel in Floriana was destroyed to make way for the Chapel dedicated to St. Mary of Lourdes. The ravelin dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene that used to guard the entrance to Valletta met the same fate. Like the Church in Valletta, it was built by the Knights of St. John and the Knights of Malta. The Chapel in Madliena - Gozo, under the Citadel, was demolished long ago.


In Dingli, Madliena is an area high on the Dingli Cliffs. The chapel, under the authority of the Dominican Fathers, of whom St Mary Magdalene is a patron saint, is well cared for and open to the public regularly during limited hours. The feast of St Mary Magdalene is celebrated here. It lacks the pomp, pagan fireworks, behavior, organization, and publicity of other feasts. Unlike the multiple feast days associated with other saints, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene is held on one day only, July 22. The Blessing of the Animals occurs outside the chapel. The building is no longer referred to as the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene but as the Dingli Chapel. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site.

St. Andrews[edit]

The other Chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene is in the third place in Malta dedicated to this Saint. It is the largest Madliena and has developed into a village, St Andrews, Malta, a well-established town. Swieqi, a recently developed village within it, seems to have taken over St Andrews, at least administratively. It has also taken within it the village of Madliena, established much longer ago than St Andrews or Swieqi. High Ridge, an area adjacent to Madliena, also exerts influence, taking the expansion of this Madliena under its name. High Ridge was built after Swieqi.

This Madliena at least has its own administrative council within the Swieqi Local Council, as from March 2010. Traditionally it forms part of Għargħur; however, in the 1990s the Central Government decided that it should form part of the new Swieqi locality. Previously, the area was known as Samudi or Bjar Samut. It appeared in Dejma (local militia) lists in conjunction with Għargħur (Gregori et Samudi).

There is no tangible evidence that Mary Magdalene was ever shipwrecked on Malta before arriving in France, as is sometimes believed. The motto of Naxxar next to this Madliena, states that it is the earliest Christian site in Malta. Also noteworthy is that Malta was the first country to become Christian. Moreover, there is evidence that a strong cult devoted to the Magdalene existed,[citation needed] and Madliena did have a church/chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

Some historians record that this Chapel was used during World War II to store paintings and silverware from St John's Co-Cathedral and other precious collections and that the whole Chapel was covered with sandbags for security. Soldiers and sailors would pay their respects to the Magdalene every time they saw the Chapel of Madliena on land or from the sea.

The original Chapel, built in 1490, was demolished in 1880 to make way for the building of a fortress by the British authorities. The present chapel was built some time after 1880. Until August 1998, this chapel formed part of the Għargħur parish; however, due to circumstances within the Għargħur parish, services started to be held by the Ibraġġ Church, which had also previously formed part of the Għargħur parish.[1]

Madliena here is also home to the famous Madliena tower, which served as a beacon, used mostly by the Knights of Saint John or Knights of Malta. The British forces built a massive fortress here, which is why they demolished the original St Mary Magdalene Chapel. Currently this village, situated at high elevation, is replete with villas and terraced houses. There also used to be a radar in this area. Today a great deal of communication equipment is located here, due to its elevation. The Chapel is in quite good condition, although it is rarely opened. A few meters below this Madliena, in an area known as Pembroke, traditionally in St Andrews, is the Christian hall dedicated to the Resurrected Christ.

The area currently known as Madliena derives from the name of the sea inlet currently known as Bahar ic-Caghaq which in the past was known as Cala della Maddalena (Cala in Italian means bay/creek). From here, the area eventually changed its name to an English version, thus Madliena. In fact, the tower's name was Torre della Maddalena.


From a sporting perspective, Madliena is represented by Swieqi United FC in the Maltese 3rd Division.


  1. ^ Pace, F. Il-Gargur, In-nies u l-Knejjes Tieghu, (Kunsill Lokali Għargħur, 2000). Today the chapel is in an abandoned state, and is rarely used. Also, certain rumours have arisen among local residents, who claim that they have heard strange satanic noises at full moon. One also claimed that part of the chapel was seen lit by a strange red light. Some also claimed that they heard the church bell ring numerous times. "One can only imagine the ghastly and frightful atmosphere", said one of the local residents. This of course is still unclear, but worrying to some of the residents. Others choose not to believe this and blame mischief by teenagers. This has definitely given rise to great turmoil in the local neighbourhood, as some fear the future possibility of more uncanny and witchlike happenings like this.

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Coordinates: 35°56′N 14°28′E / 35.933°N 14.467°E / 35.933; 14.467