Din l-Art Ħelwa has been given the guardianship of the medieval chapel of San Mikiel is-Sanċir, also known as San Ċir, by the Government of Malta by virtue of an agreement signed with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.  

The chapel of Sanċir  is located in the limits of Rabat below Mtarfa  and is one of the very few medieval chapels left in Malta believed to have been built between 1450 and 1500.

The chapel, which has an atypical pitched roof, lies in the middle of a magisterial estate known as Ġnien is‑Sultan – which may have contributed to the fact that it remained largely unchanged, adding considerably to its heritage value. Much of what is known about it comes from pastoral reports written between 1575 and 1678. It was deconsecrated by Bishop Molina, who instructed that some of its roof slabs should be removed to ensure it remained unused.

Over the centuries it was used as a rustic store, a pigsty,  until the beginning of the 20th century a cow‑shed, and then largely abandoned.

The name of the chapel is interesting: pastoral visitors attributed it to St Michael Archangel. The name of San Ċir, on the other hand, has led many to believe that it was dedicated to St Cyr or Cyriacus. The confusion was compounded by the fact that both the feasts of St Cyr and St Michael Archangel are celebrated on 29 September. The most likely version is that it was dedicated to St Cyr in Byzantine times and later was named after St Michael.

‘We are delighted to have been granted the guardianship of this quite unique, but little known, medieval chapel, tucked away on the outskirts of Rabat. The late Monsignor Dun Ġwann Azzopardi had prompted Din l-Art Ħelwa Councillor Stanley Farrugia Randon way back in 2002 to take up its cause with the authorities, and he has continued to champion it ever since. Thanks to Dr Farrugia Randon and my immediate predecessor, Alex Torpiano,  it is a great relief to know that the chapel will finally receive the much-needed attention that it deserves,’ Din l-Art Ħelwa executive president Patrick Calleja said.

‘It is presently in a very poor state of repair and requires considerable restoration work, both investigative and structural to save it. We hope to commence works very soon since the development permission was approved in November 2020. We are also grateful to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage over these last years, and in particular its Superintendent Kurt Farrugia, for making this guardianship possible’.

The site is not an easy one to visit as there are no roads that lead directly to it. However, Din l-Art Ħelwa hopes to render it accessible, as an important example of the architecture of medieval chapels in Malta  and to have annual masses on its feast days. ‘It would make the perfect addition’ continued Patrick Calleja  ‘to augment the heritage trail of places of worship saved by our organisation, which currently includes the Ħal Milleri chapel in Żurrieq, Bir Miftuħ church in Gudja, St Roque Chapel in Ħaż-Żebbug and the church of Our Lady of Victory in Valletta.

The NGO has estimated that the works would cost several hundred thousand euro and it is currently looking for corporate and individual sponsorships to complement what has already been pledged.

 Donations may be made to the following accounts:

HSBC MT76MMEB44336000000033181181001

BOV MT51VALL22013000000040021787427

APS MT02APSB77024000892010892010012

Donations may also be made by SMS:

MELITA 50617910 for a donation of €4.66

MELITA 50619298 for a donation of €11.65

GO 50617910 for a donation of €4.66

GO 50619298 for a donation of €11.65

Please contact for further information.

20 May 2024



From left to right: Superintendent of Cultural Heritage Kurt E. Farrugia, Secretary General of Din l-Art Ħelwa, Simone Mizzi, Executive President, Patrick Calleja, and Chief Notary to Government Dr Paul Callus sign the historic guardianship deed for the medieval chapel of San Ċir today in Valletta