Madliena means "Saint Mary Magdalene", in Maltese. It refers to three different sites dedicated to her.
In the Maltese Islands, there are three sites dedicated to this Saint, and in fact called Madliena. As in other countries, all are in the most important and the most strategic locations, as are their Church and Chapels.
The Church, in Valletta was built by the Knights of St John, also known as The Knights Of Malta because they only settled in other countries for a very brief period. Up till recently,[when?] it was used for building carnival floats. Today it is left to ruin. Religious sculpture exists inside, including 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 excuses.
The Chapel in Rabat, under the Church of St Peter and St Paul is never opened. All artifects 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 the 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 Domenican Fathers of whom St Mary Magdalene is a Patron Saint, is well cared for. It opens regularly for a few hours however. 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 the 22 July, as in other countries. The "Blessing of animals" occurs outside this Chapel. Recently,[when?] it is not referred to as The Chapel of St Mary Magdalene any longer, but The Dingli Chapel. UNESCO has included it as 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 up 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 came about 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 tangibile evidence that Mary Magdelene was ever shipwrecked on Malta before arriving in France, as is sometimes believed. However, there is evidence that a strong cult devoted to Magdelene existed, and Madliena did have a church/chapel dedicated to Mary Magdelene. 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 the whole Chapel was covered with sand-bags for security. Soldiers and Sailors would pay their respects to the Magdelene every time they saw the Chapel of Madliena on land and from the seas. 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, service started being done 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 the Knights of Malta. The British Forces built a massive Fortress here. In fact that 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 use to be a radar in this area. Today many communications equipment exist here, due to its elevation. The Chapel is in quite a 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 are represented by Swieqi United FC in the Maltese 3rd Division.
- Pace, F. Il-Gargur, In-nies u l-Knejjes Tieghu, (Kunsill Lokali Għargħur, 2000)