A Chapel was Found Under the Madonna Tal-Hniena Church in Qrendi, Malta
Archaeologists unearthed the remains of a chapel dating from the late Middle Ages beneath the floors of Madonna Tal-Ħniena Church in Qrendi, a village in Malta.
The discovery announced by Malta’s Superintendence of Cultural Heritage came as the team completed the first phase of an archaeological study in partnership with the Restoration Directorate.
Madonna Tal-Ħniena (Our Lady of Mercy) was built in Qrendi in 1650 C.E. After falling into disrepair, it was fully restored later in the 17th century, and a sacristy was added to house sacred vessels and vestments.
Despite being deconsecrated when it had fallen into poor condition, locals continued to worship in the intervening years.
The church is filled with ex-voto paintings, which function as religious offerings for divine intervention on such matters as cures for illness and shipwreck rescues.
At the main altar, a painting of the Madonna and child shows the pair sitting on the moon surrounded by angels, two of whom are holding a crown above Mary’s head.
Another prominent painting near the church’s main entrance known as Awżiljaturi (helpers) features the 14 saints commonly invoked by the Maltese for protection against various diseases and other misfortunes.
The buried medieval chapel, thought to have been built prior to 1500 C.E., was uncovered after the team removed the Baroque church’s floor tiles. There, they found the surviving walls of an older, smaller structure.
Beneath its foundations, even older archaeological deposits were found, suggesting the site may have been used prior to the Medieval period.
A little more than a half-mile away, the Neolithic temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra stand along the coastline.