Chapels are everywhere you look in Malta, but some really manage to stand out. Others, while unique, are being criminally overlooked, and nowhere is this more obvious than with a tiny 15th century chapel in Rabat.
In the limits of Rabat, in an area known as Il-Ġnien tas-Sultan, lies this beautiful chapel which dates all the way back to the 1400s. Back in the 17th Century, the chapel was deconsecrated due to its sorry state, but 400 years later, that state has only gotten impossibly worse.
It is thought that this chapel was present in the Byzantine era, and was probably dedicated to Saint Cyriacus — a Greek guy.
When Christianity made a comeback, however, it was more of a Roman Catholic hangout than a Greek Christian one, so the name was changed to San Mikiel. Hence the Sanċir bit in the name — San Cyr, get it? We love bastardising foreign words istra; kompjuter and mowbajl are only the tip of the iceberg.
The paintings which were housed in this pretty little thing were transferred to the parish church of Rabat by Bishop Miguel Jerónimo de Molina back in the 1600s.
After it was deconsecrated, the chapel fell into the hands of local farmers, who really used it as a storage space.
It was given attention again back in the 80s by volunteers from the Sanċir Trust, National Students Travel Foundation and the Friends of Malta, who built a stone altar and reopened it for public use in 1988. It was quite a big deal as the President at the time attended the opening service which was carried out by the benefactor of this cute chapel.
There’s even ancient graffitis on the inside of the chapel which are thought to be like, votive offerings to St. Michael. But whatever; let’s just keep on not caring about this, shall we?
Back in 2013, a bid was put forward to restore this wayside beaut by the local NGO Ħbieb il-Kappelli Maltin.
Fast forward five years, and the chapel had yet again fell into a further state of disrepair and is nowadays in danger of collapsing and being lost forever. There’s a bunch of trees and plants growing all over the place, blocking off the entrance. Even the altar has collapsed.
And at this rate, another five years will soon pass before something is done about this tiny historical gem.