On the 13th of December, Malta’s Republic Day, Heritage Malta will be offering the public a rare opportunity to visit the church of Our Lady of the Pillar in Valletta.
Arguably one of the finest of Valletta’s lesser known assets, the church of Our Lady of the Pillar formed part of the adjoining Auberge of the Langue of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre. It was first built during the early 1670s, a full century after the construction of the Auberge proper. The foundation stone was laid by Grand Master Nicholas Cotoner and its construction was financed mainly through the generosity of Raimondo de Soler and Felice Inniges de Ayerba, Bailiffs of Majorca and Caspe respectively.
Following his death in 1691, Fra de Ayerba was buried inside the same church. Two years later, a severe earthquake that shook the Maltese Islands in January inflicted significant damage in the church construction, and the Aragonese knights engaged Romano Carapecchia, then resident engineer of the Order, to reconstruct it. Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful financed the project, which was completed in 1718.
The interior is even more striking, boasting high sculptural qualities and adorned with a notable hoard of works of art. Of particular note is the altarpiece by Stefano Erardi, one of the leading artists in late seventeenth-century Malta. It depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to the Apostle James the Greater as he was praying by the banks of the river Ebro at Zaragoza. Popularly known as Our Lady of the Pillar, this Spanish tradition enjoys a widespread and deep-rooted devotion in the Hispanic world and constitutes the main annual religious and cultural manifestation of the capital of Aragon, Zaragoza.
Tickets at a reduced price of only €2 will be available at the door. Opening hours are from 10:00 to 16:00.
All attendees must wear a face mask and respect social distancing measures.