This Halloween, ditch the trick-or-treating and instead spend a night in a prison cell occupied by the people found guilty by the Inquisitor centuries ago.
Heritage Malta is offering visitors the opportunity to sleep in the 17th-century prison cells next week as the world remembers the dead.
Sleeping in the cells will be the perfect finale, albeit optional, for an All Souls’ Day thematic supper at the Inquisitor’s Palace in Vittoriosa on November 3.
Curator Kenneth Cassar said the Inquisitor’s prison complex was built in phases, mainly throughout the 17th century.
The archives of the Inquisition in Malta and the Vatican shed light on its problems with security, with inquisitors demanding funds to improve the situation. There are stories of escapes and the consequent mitigation measures to thicken the cell walls.
What survives is a remarkable, early-modern complex consisting of public cells, built under Inquisitor Giovanni Battista Gori Pannellini between 1639 and 1645, and punitive cells constructed in 1700 at the time of Inquisitor Giacinto Ferrero di Messerano.
They differed in type and use. Public cells functioned like waiting rooms where the summoned – both the accused and witnesses – waited before appearing before the inquisitorial tribunal.
The punitive cells were much smaller and used when an inquisitor sanctioned imprisonment, Mr Cassar added.
L-Għid tal-Erwieħ (the feast of souls) will be re-enacted at the Vittoriosa palace, highlighting popular traditions related to the afterlife, including supper.
The main dish will be based on the ħanżira tal-erwieħ, roasted pig, complemented by the maħluta, a bittersweet drink evoking life’s ups and downs, ftieti tal-għaża (toasted bread with garlic and parsley), kawlata (vegetable soup with pork) and l-għadam tal-mejtin (a bone shaped, almond-based sweet).
L-Għid tal-Erwieħ used to be celebrated by the faithful in remembrance of the souls that had not yet reached paradise and were still languishing in purgatory.
In fact, the meal is traditionally held on All Souls’ Day, but the activity organised by Heritage Malta will take place the following day.
After the meal, those brave enough will be invited to spend the night in one of the cells. They are asked to provide their own sleeping bags and torches.
Find more information on 2166 3731, www.heritagemalta.org or on the Facebook page for the Inquisitor’s Palace.