Witchcraft, superstition, demons, evil spirits and curses have always piqued our interest. Let’s be honest; for a heavily Catholic country, we sure do love ourselves some good old devil-worshipping stories. And we don’t have to look at myths or films, but our very island’s own past.
Recently stumbling upon a list of batshit 17th century witch trials from Malta’s past, we’ve picked up the juicy bits for you to enjoy. You know, because it’s obviously perfect Sunday afternoon reading material. Enjoy.
1. The old prison wizard of Valletta
Pauline Hagius wanted to find a cure for her daughter’s illness. She had tried all sorts of things… mainly prayer and medicine. Anyway, Pauline went to the old prison in Valletta where a mysterious looking old man with a long white-beard called her over. He was obviously a wizard, so she took him to her house.
After a thorough examination, the Valletta Wizard told Pauline that her daughter was cursed. He filled a large bowl with water, placing it inside a large basin and started praying over it. Maltese Gandalf then asked the girl to fish around in the water to look for fuck knows what. After the first couple of tries, the girl found a lock of hair bound in a string, so the old wizard concluded that she was cursed with the evil-eye.
The Inquisitor later on asked the mother what she thought of the old wizard, to which she simply replied, “I presumed that the slave had a relationship with the Devil who dictated to him how to heal.”
Needless to say, Gandalfinu was sent to real prison this time round.
2. Senglea’s magic paper
25-year-old Jacobus Tonna from Senglea appeared in front of the Inquisitor as he was in possession of an alleged magic paper. He said it was offered to him and that it was a Sagrasanta scripture, however, like much of the common folk back then, Jacobus couldn’t read for shit.
Tonna just assumed that it was a holy prayer after having acquired it a couple of days earlier from a woman known as Vitoria ‘tas-Sinen’, from Valletta. He started getting a bit suspicious by time that it might not be a magic paper, so like the sane person he was, he accused Vitoria of witchcraft and dragged her in front of the Inquisitor. Vitoria in turn accused him of stealing the paper from her.
Turns out Vitoria couldn’t read for shit either; she found it in the middle of a Square at Valletta, didn’t really know what it was and kept it. That was her first confession anyway.
It turned out that Vitoria totally knew that the “magic paper” held a spell, written for her by a slave named Haisa to return Vitoria’s estranged lover.
3. The Sicilian witch
So there was this woman known as Narda of Sicily who was also denounced. Some lady visited Narda as she was sure that she had the evil eye all over her. We’ll call this unnamed woman Shakira just so as not to get confused.
So Narda grabbed a couple of blessed olive leaves and a palm branch, started burning the leaves, and fanned herself a bit. She took a bowl full of water and placed it by Shakira’s feet. She started fuming her all over, dropping the ash into the bowl, all the while invoking the Holy Trinity. The watered ashes were later on thrown out in the streets along with the remains of the palma and olive leaves.
Is this giving anyone dejá-vu?
4. The not-so-accurate fortune teller
The Inquisition brought forward a 14-year-old girl, Andreana Martin, and some of her friends, for consorting with a fortune teller. Andreana was approached by a woman who wanted to do some palm reading for her. It just so happens that the fortune teller wasn’t that accurate.
The 14-year-old girl was married (as people did back then), and the fortune teller told her that her husband would soon return to Malta. The thing is, the husband was already chilling here. The young girl was like, “Yeah, no my husband is already here” so the fortune teller changed her story a bit. This time, she told her that her sister’s husband will return to Malta in five days’ time.
The girl and her friends were clearly taking the piss out of the woman, but they were still denounced by the church.
5. The Grand Harbour exorcisms, all in the name of love
Apparently, Malta also had a really good exorcist who could totally help you get your lover back.
A certain Barberica Gregh from Birgu literally asked for an exorcism in order for her ex beloved to start loving her again. Because you know, those pesky AF possessive demons really know how to make you become completely unloveable.
This is not an isolated case either.
Another woman from Valletta, Madeleine De Stephani, also tried the whole “exorcise me because I refuse to believe I’m completely unloveable” gag.
At this point, we don’t think we need to keep on specifying, but in case you were wondering, these people all got denounced by the church.
6. The most unfortunate woman ever
Catherina de Verani of Valletta was tried and found guilty of witchcraft. We do not really know the details and what it was exactly that she had done, but apparently it was just plain old witchcraft.
She was sentenced to walk from Valletta to Żabbar every Saturday… for four years. She was also forced to say the rosary when she got to the Tal-Grazzja Church, where she was made to hear mass. For a witch, that’s painful and boring.
7. The Wall Banger Beltija
A middle-aged woman called Minica from Valletta was denounced by the church. Many young women approached her for love or reconciliation spells, and Minica told them to take three pinches of salt along with three pinches of ammonia, and ordered them to throw the pinches in a fire. They later had to extinguish the fire and cast the ashes out in the street.
These women were also instructed to wake up at midnight and beat the hell out of their bedroom walls saying, “As I am beating on the wall may the heart of my forlorn lover beat for me, so that he may come to me.”
One of the witnesses at the trial, Antonetta Calleja, stated that she did not see any results to this spell. Her neighbours on the other hand must’ve been pretty annoyed with her midnight wall-banging sessions.