Madliena refers to three different sites on the island of Malta. A church in Valletta and chapels in Dingli and St Andrews. The three sites are dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
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. Up until recently,[when?] the church was used for building carnival floats. Today it is left in ruins. There are religious sculptures inside, including one showing the role of St Mary Magdalene as a nurse. Excavation works in front of St John's Co-Cathedral were stopped 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 left to rot. Chambers and passages are sealed without anyone knowing what they might contain or where they might lead to. The Chapel in Floriana was demolished to make way for the Chapel dedicated to St Mary of Lourdes. The ravelin dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, and which used to guard the entrance to Valletta, also met this fate. Like the Church in Valletta, it was built by the Knights of St John or Knights of Malta. The Chapel in Madliena - Gozo, under the Citadel, was demolished long ago.
In Dingli, Malta, Madliena is an area close to the radar, high on Dingli Cliffs. The Chapel, under the authority of the Dominican Fathers, of whom St Mary Magdalene is a Patron Saint, is well cared for. It opens regularly for a few hours. The feast of Saint Mary Magdalene is celebrated here. It lacks the pomp, pagan fireworks, and behaviour present in other feasts, but it also lacks their organisation and publicity. Unlike the numerous feast days allocated to other Saints, St Mary Magdalene has one feast day on 22 July, as in other countries. The "Blessing of animals" occurs outside this Chapel. It is not referred to as the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene any longer[when?], but as the Dingli Chapel. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site.
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, is also exerting its effect, 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 worthy of note is that Malta was the first country to become Christian, and also among the first in the world. Moreover, there is evidence that a strong cult devoted to the Magdalene existed, 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, which had already been 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.
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 much 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.
From a sporting perspective, Madliena is represented by Swieqi United FC in the Maltese 3rd Division.
- 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.