The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Wied Ghammieq Cemetery Sadly neglected

Malta Independent Thursday, 11 May 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

The chapel and cemetery at Wied Ghammieq in Kalkara are in desperate need of repair and maintenance, as the pictures accompanying this article show.

Although the authorities have not lifted a finger to at least keep the place in good shape, it is still visited by many people on a regular basis and Mass is still celebrated in the chapel every Sunday.

However, even though the chapel is still in use, it is in a bad state of repair, part of the ceiling has collapsed and the boundary wall surrounding the cemetery is broken.

The chapel and cemetery were built in the 19th century and it became the resting place for hundreds who died during the cholera epidemic in 1837.

The first cases of the cholera epidemic that swept Malta in 1837 appeared at the Ospizio in Floriana and the decision was taken to use Fort Ricasoli as a hospital for the elderly who had been infected. Their bodies, which amounted to 855, were buried in the nearby cemetery that had been modified accordingly.

The cemetery became a place of devotion for the many relatives of those who died. In fact, they used to visit the tombs of those who had died on the second day of each month.

In 1878, the remains of the unfortunate victims of the cholera epidemic where exhumed and re-buried in an orderly fashion. A monument to their memory was also erected.

After the Second World War, a small chapel, with seating for around 60, was built for those who went to the cemetery and wanted to stay and pray in silence. The chapel was designed by Chevalier Vincenzo Bonello, father of Judge Vanni Bonello, one of the pioneers of preserving Malta’s historical heritage

Kalkara residents who live in the area said it was a pity that the cemetery and chapel had been neglected, and they had called on the government to clean up the area.

The Health Ministry is responsible for all cemeteries but no maintenance had been carried out for decades, they said.

In the 1980s, tragedy struck in Wied Ghammieq when two brothers and two girls lost their life. A construction worker also lost his life in the same decade. A small plaque on the boundary wall of the cemetery serves as a reminder of both tragedies.

Wied Ghammieq is also the site of Malta’s main sewage outflow, along with Ras il-Prajjet and Ic-Cumnija in Mellieha.

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