Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Lady Tal Hlas chapel (Protectress of mothers in labour)

A few weeks ago I took my little one to a thanksgiving mass celebrated at Tal-Hlas chapel in Qormi. This special mass is celebrated at half past 4 every third Sunday of the month and the children of all ages are presented to Our Lady in gratitude following a safe delivery. My siblings were all presented at this quaint chapel and for this reason I wanted to keep to this family tradition.

This small chapel is situated in a secluded part of Qormi and lies on the border with Zebbug. For a time its location was disputed as either being in Zebbug or Qormi territory. Incidentally, this chapel is also said to lie in a path halfway between Birgu and Mdina. Hence it was a convenient resting place for the pilgrims travelling between these towns. The unusual twin porticoed loggias on either side with stone benches and tables, were built in 1699 to provide shelter for the numerous pilgrims who visited the church.

The original church, now turned into a sacristy, was built around 1500. In the year 1560, Fra Christophe le Boulleur Montgauldry, the Treasurer of the Order of St John, who had a house by the church (I believe the building opposite the church is the one that is being referred to here) was a great benefactor of the church, building it anew and paying for the titular painting now kept in the sacristy, which showed Our Lady with St Paul and St John the Baptist. In this sacristy a large number of ex-votos are kept here.

The original chapel was seriously damaged in the violent earthquake of 1693 and was rebuilt by the architect Lorenzo Gafa. The titular painting of Our Lady tal-Hlas (protectress of mothers in labour) was placed above the old one.

The feast, which used to to be held on the 15th August, is now celebrated on the Sunday following that date. In the past there was the custom of distributing hazelnuts and a glass of wine to visitors on the feast day.

This year, the feast will be celebrated on the 21st of August and two masses will be celebrated - one at 9:30am and the last one at 6.00pm. Parents who would like to present their children to our Lady are invited to attend to this celebration.


Sue said...

I almost missed this post dated July ...and I am commenting in August!
I heard of this chapel but never visited.
There are so many places I have never been to in Malta even if I was born and raised there... shame on me!
Maybe it will be on my list next time I come to Malta.

Doreen said...

With all that has been happening in our family this summer I too almost missed this post which I found very interesting. Nice to see you posting again Zen : )