It’s spooky season, so we’ve hit the books in search of Maltese stories and legends with a safe scare-factor (we’ve got enough sleepless nights, thank you very much).
Check out these five scare-tastic stories – they’re all set in Malta, so you can take it up a notch and recount these stories where they took place. How about that for a history lesson and a spook session?
The Dinner Party
It was New Year’s Day in 1731 and Father Antonio Vella of the Church of Saint Paul decided to celebrate by inviting some other priests for lunch. He prepared a hearty plate of couscous (or the Maltese kusksu bil-ful, no one really knows which one it was). Everyone ate, but when the guests returned home, there was a lot of violent throwing up involved.
Turns out Father Vella cooked the cuscus in the same copper pot he used earlier to mix poison. Nobody died, but Fr. Vella’s reputation was seriously tarnished – and who knows why he used the same pot? Dinner at Fr. Vella’s, anyone?
The Devil Loves Windows
On February 16th 1731, Marquis Depiro heard strange sounds as his glass windows started breaking. Was it demons trying to attack him? Marquis Depiro got scared but then he mustered up some courage and inspected further. There were no demons: boys were breaking his windows!
The Mummy in Valletta
When builders started pulling down the church next to the Sacra Infermeria in Valletta to build a new one, the person who had built the church in the first place was not pleased. This man was called Fre Giorgia Nibbia and he loved his Church so much that he was buried in it.
When his tomb was opened, they found a mummy. His body was there, still complete, just with very dark skin. The sheet covering him was gone – all that was left was the eight pointed cross that had been embroidered on it. Needless to say, the persons who opened the tomb were seriously spooked out at the sight – who knew Valletta had its mummies, too?
The galley that got stuck
On stormy days and nights, legend has it, many ships sought shelter in calmer bays in Malta and Gozo. Around 1726, one galley sheltered in the bay of Marsalforn. While they were there, the crew visited the church of Saint Paul, and one of the sailors liked what he was seeing a tad too much.
There on the altar lay a beautiful cloth, perfectly embroidered with intricate gold work that dazzled the church. He left, only to return later. He couldn’t resist its beauty so he tucked it beneath his shirt and made his way back to the galley.
The storm passed and the ship and its sailors prepared to sail – but the anchor wouldn’t budge. They tried and tried, but still, the anchor remained firmly in place and the galley couldn’t move.
Thinking about what he had done, the sailor started getting worried that this was a sign from God. So he disembarked and returned to the church with the stolen altar cloth, and wham!, the anchor lifted easily and off they went!
The ghosts of tal-Ghonq
In the middle of the older part of Victoria, there was a tiny shop where a cobbler worked every day. Amongst all his tools, he kept an old chocolate tin with a tiny opening on top, enough for his customers to drop in loose change. To encourage his customers to donate, he glued a picture of souls in purgatory, with several people engulfed in flames from the waist down. He used the small change he collected to buy candles which he placed in front of the cemetery at tal-Għonq.
One day, as he was walking back home from his usual trip to the cemetery, he felt unwell and collapsed. All of a sudden, he saw a procession of people dressed in white coming towards him. As they got closer, they smiled at him, and lifted him. Next thing he knows, he finds himself stretching out on his sofa at home!
Looks like the ghosts he lit candles to lended him a helping hand when he needed it!
These stories have been adapted from Malta: A Second Collection of Tales and Narratives by Robert Attard and Forty Legends from Gozo by Joseph Bezzina.