Chapel of Bones, Valletta, Malta


Malta – Chapel of Bones
c.1910
Publisher: The Grand Studio

The Nibbia Chapel, located in the present grounds of the Evans Building, was a domed, octagonally-shaped building and is known so after Fra Giorgio Nibbia who was buried there. Its façade consisted of a large portal panel having the main door set within two clustered sets of Doric pilasters on each side. . . . The ossuary popularly known as The Chapel of Bones was a vaulted underground crypt, possibly beneath the Nibbia chapel, but could also have been in close vicinity, and is reputed to be still extant, where bones from a cemetery of those who had died at the Sacra Infermeria were placed in patterns and designs as mural decorations, hence its name. The Latin inscription on the single altar lamented the ephemerity of life and requested prayers for the dead.
Times of Malta

Nibbia Chapel was originally built in 1619 near the Sacra Infermeria cemetery by Fra Giorgio Nibbia, a knight of the Order of St John. Dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, it was intended as a place of prayer for the souls of the deceased patients of the hospital of the Order. In 1730, the original chapel was dismantled to make way for a hospital extension and it was rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1731. The new building consisted of an octagonal structure with a dome, pilasters and pediments. More importantly, the chapel included a vaulted underground crypt which served as an ossuary.

When the Sacra Infermeria cemetery was cleared in 1776, its human remains were transferred to the ossuary, but it was only in 1852 that a certain Rev Sacco, then the chaplain of the hospital, had the grand idea of decorating the crypt with pretty patterns formed with human bones. The crypt had one altar on which was inscribed a Latin lament on the ephemerality of life, requesting prayers for the dead. This crypt became known as the Chapel of Bones.
GuideMeMalta.com

The Nibbia Chapel (Maltese: Il-Kappella ta’ Nibbia) was a Roman Catholic chapel in Valletta, Malta, which was dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy. It was originally built in 1619 by Fra Giorgio Nibbia, a knight of the Order of St. John, and it was located near a cemetery where deceased patients from the nearby Sacra Infermeria were buried. The chapel was rebuilt in the Baroque style in 1731. In 1852 its crypt was decorated with skeletal human remains taken from the adjacent cemetery, giving rise to the name Chapel of Bones (Maltese: Il-Kappella tal-Għadam). The chapel was heavily damaged by aerial bombardment in 1941, and its ruins were subsequently demolished, leaving only some foundations on the site. However, the crypt might still survive intact.
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The chapel had a vaulted underground crypt which served as an ossuary. Skeletal remains of patients who had died at the Sacra Infermeria were arranged in decorative patterns on the walls, and the crypt therefore became popularly known as the Chapel of Bones. The crypt had one altar, which had a Latin inscription lamenting the ephemerality of life and requesting prayers for the deceased. The exact location of the crypt has been lost, and it could have been either under the chapel itself or in the immediate vicinity.
Wikipedia.

 

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