St. John the Evangelist chapel, Hal Millieri, Zurrieq

In addition to the well documented chapel of the Annunciation and its abutting ruin of the Visitation, the lost medieval hamlet of Hal Millieri, in the outskirts of present-day Zurrieq, had two other chapels. One of these chapels was dedicated to the martyrdom of St John the Evangelist whose feast was held on 6th May, and the other to the Holy Apparition of St Michael the Archangel on Mount Gargano celebrated on 8th May.

These chapels stood only 70 metres from the other two. Only St John’s chapel remains, but the boundary walls of a small orchard flanking its north sidemark the site of what was once the chapel of St Michael and its atrium. Both chapels were built directly on solid rock and in the open square opposite there is a stone column surmounted by a cross on a square pedestal and two circular stone steps.

Little is known about the original chapel of St John. It already existed in 1481 when it was endowed by a certain Andrea Zammit. In 1575 the church authorities ordered this primitive chapel to be deconsecrated on account of its poor state. However it survived until at least 1634, when the church authorities again threatened to close it down if it were left unfurnished. Instead it was reconstructed and today remains more or less unaltered, except for the new 1931 alter and the demolition of the lovely low-walled parapet surrounding the atrium.

Din l-Art Helwa commenced restoration of this chapel in 2004 and during the clean-up of the adjacent site of St Michael’s chapel a curious discovery was made – a stone engraved with the signature of Giuseppe Cali, one of Malta’s most well-known painters of the late 19th century.

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