An exhibition tracing the Dominicans’ history in the capital is on display at the Dominican Priory, St Dominic Street, Valletta.
Valletta and the Dominicans: A Common Journey brings together items provided by Heritage Malta and religious artefacts owned by the Dominicans.
Set up in collaboration with the fraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Rosary and San Vincenz Ferrari, all founded in the Dominican parish, the exhibition delves into the story of the Dominican mission in Valletta and the spiritual comfort it offered to the Valletta community, especially in times of distress.
Valletta and the Dominican community took their first steps in the years following the Great Siege of 1565 when, without delay, Grand Master de Valette thought of constructing the fortified city to protect Malta from another Ottoman attack.
Due to the lack of necessary funds, the main benefactor was the Dominican Pope St Pius V, who sent 30,000 silver florins and his engineer Francesco Laparelli, so that on March 28, 1566 the first stone of the city was laid.
For two whole years the Dominicans would cross from their convent in Vittoriosa to the new city to assist the 4,000 workers constructing the bastions. It was for this reason that Fr Damiano Taliana, Prior of the Annunciation Convent and Provincial Vicar of the Dominican convents in Malta, asked to be given a location to build a church and a convent. Grand Master Pietro del Monte accepted his request and, in 1571, a Dominican community established itself permanently and built a new church dedicated to St Mary of Porto Salvo and St Dominic for the devotion of sailors.
The collection on display also includes the baptismal registry in which St Ġorġ Preca’s name appears. He was baptised in the parish itself.
Entrance to the exhibition is free. It is open every day between 10am and 4pm, until October 7.