Valletta and the Dominicans: a common journey

Valletta and the Dominicans: a common journey is an exhibition narrating how the story of the City of Valletta has often intertwined with that of the Dominican Community in the capital.

Heritage Malta and the Parish of St Mary of Porto Salvo and St Dominic have teamed up for an exhibition of paintings, prints, manuscript volumes, object d’art, vestments and curious paraphernalia from the national and Parish collections to narrate Valletta’s Dominican print. This exhibition will delve into the Dominican mission in the Valletta story, the spiritual comfort it offered to the Valletta community, especially in times of distress, the contribution of the parish confraternities and the Dominican artistic heritage and personalities.

Valletta and the Dominicans: a common journey exhibition was inaugurated at the Dominican Priory in Valletta by the Prime Minister, Dr Joseph Muscat, in the presence of the Minister of Justice, Culture and Local Government, Dr Owen Bonnici, Heritage Malta Chairman, Dr Anton Refalo, and the Prior and Chaplain, Fr Michael Camilleri.

The City of Valletta and the Dominican Community took their first steps in the years following the Great Siege of 1565 when, without delay, Grand Master de Valette thought of constructing the fortified city to protect Malta from another Ottoman attack. Due to the lack of necessary funds, the main benefactor was the Dominican Pope St Pius V, who sent 30,000 silver florins and his engineer Francesco Laparelli, so that on 28th March 1566 the first stone of the City of Valletta was laid.

For two whole years the Dominicans would cross from their convent in Vittoriosa to the new city in order to assist the 4,000 workers constructing the bastions. It was for this reason that Fr Damiano Taliana, Prior of the Annunciation Convent and Provincial Vicar of the Dominican convents in Malta, asked to be given a location to build a church and a convent. Grand Master Pietro del Monte accepted his request and in 1571 a Dominican community established itself permanently and built a new church dedicated to St Mary of Porto Salvo and St Dominic for the devotion of sailors.

The presence of the Dominicans evolved into a 500 year rich and inseparable history. In the year in which we are celebrating the city of Valletta as the European Capital of Culture, this exhibition helps us appreciate the rich historical, socio-cultural and artistic legacy left by the Dominican Order as reflected in the development of Valletta.

The exhibition will remain open at the Dominican Priory in Valletta till 7th October on a daily basis from 1000hrs to 1600hrs. Admission is free.

 

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