The spot of tranquillity – the Millennium Chapel – in the most vibrant place of entertainment  is set to become even more peaceful with a meditation garden.

The idea for the garden above the Wishing Others Well (Wow) centre in Paceville, which serves as the social assistance arm of the Millennium Chapel, grew out of the Narcotics Anonymous service provided by the same foundation.

“The use of drugs has gone up, and the need for NA sessions, which have been held since 2000, increased from one weekly meeting to three.

“We noticed that very often, the people who come for an NA meeting spend some time meditating in a quiet room. So we thought of providing a better atmosphere and turning the terrace into a meditation garden with Maltese plants mentioned in the Bible,” Millennium Chapel director Hilary Tagliaferro told this newspaper.

Fr Tagliaferro considers this project a “dream” for the foundation, as it will enhance the services that it provides for people to “conquer drugs, alcohol and gambling addictions”.

Drugs and alcohol are a “major threat” to society, according to Fr Tagliaferro, who noted that teenagers are found passed out or sleeping outside the Millennium Chapel every weekend. They are often taken in and counselled about where to find help.

“We never turn our back on anyone, and even saving one life makes it worth the effort. When someone reaches rock bottom, feels abandoned or is shaken up because they end up in court or at a police station, we reach out and provide counselling to prepare them for a rehab programme with Caritas and Sedqa, among others.”

The Millennium Chapel employs 14 professional counsellors who provide free service throughout the day. The NA service is offered to those who complete rehab.

The application for the Biblical Meditation Garden, which will involve the landscaping of an existing terrace on the roof of Wow, has already been submitted to the Planning Authority.

Despite the name, the space will be open to people with different beliefs, who will be free to draw their own spiritual inspiration for meditation.

It will be landscaped with Maltese plants that are mentioned in the Bible and which have featured in a book, penned by Peter Calamatta, that is being sold in aid of the Millennium Chapel.

Out of more than 100 trees mentioned in the Bible, at least 40 are still grown in Malta and have been documented in the book, called Maltese Plants in the Bible.

The garden, split on two levels, will be named Casiciaco and Hippo after two gardens in Italy and Algeria which played an important role in the conversion of St Augustine and in forming his first religious community.

Fr Tagliaferro, an Augustinian himself, said the foundation was hoping to open the garden in time for the 200-year anniversary of the Augustinian province in Malta.

The first Augustinian community arrived in Malta from South Italy and Sicily some 600 years ago, but it was not until much later, on September 14, 1817, that Rome sanctioned the first Maltese autonomous province.

Prof. Richard England and his assistant Duncan Polidano, the two architects who created the Millennium Chapel, are also behind the plans submitted to Planning Authority for the construction of the meditation garden.

The foundation is grateful that the two architects have offered their services voluntarily and accepted to be part of the project, Fr Tagliaferro said.

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