The medieval chapel dedicated to Saint Matthew stands on a road leading to Wied Iż-Żurrieq, south of the town of Qrendi. Shaped in the form of a crypt, it is said that it survived the tremor that, in 1343, created the 130 foot deep depression known as Il-Maqluba and left it perched perilously close to the edge. If this is the case, then, this tiny chapel is one of the oldest Christian shrines in Malta.
Contiguous with this chapel, is another larger chapel that was completed in 1682. This chapel is also dedicated to Saint Matthew and boasts a painting by Mattia Preti representing the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. The painting was commissioned by the Knight Commander, Nicoló Communette.
The larger chapel was also threatened by a large peril. The town of Qrendi is close to the principal military airfield in Malta during WWII and it too was given a fair share of attack by enemy bombers. On Sunday the 12th of April 1942, possibly drawn by a number of soldiers present near the chapel, an enemy plane attacked the chapel. The enemy aircraft killed and wounded many of the soldiers. In the attack, the church was extensively damaged and it was feared it would collapse.
After the end of the war, the people of Qrendi gave thanks by rebuilding the chapel. They also embellished its façade by adding two simple but attractive steeples.
Presently, a feast in honour of Saint Matthew is celebrated each year on the third Sunday of September and the chapel itself is venue for many weddings and spiritual retreats.
Source: The Maltese Herald, Tuesday 6th November 2007
Text Contributed by: Martin Attard (Melbourne, Australia)
Visit, thanks to: David Schembri (Qrendi, Malta)