Palazzo Manresa at Floriana was built by Fr. Francesco Rosignoli, a Jesuit, as a Retreat House. It was intended mainly for the purpose of organizing spiritual exercises as had been designed by the Founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignazius, during his stay in the town of Manresa, Spain. Fr/ Rosignoli became the first rector of the House.
The Archbishop's Curia was originally built between 1743 and 1751 in a quiet area of Floriana which was slowly developing as a suburb of Valletta. The baroque building stood on a high ridge with an unobstructed view of Marsamxett Harbour.
The main door of Palazzo Manresa is flanked diagonally with a set of columns and is reached by a flight of steps. It is decorated with garlands on its frames and is surmounted by a figure of the Madonna and Child. The facade extends both sides with two rows of windows with elaborate sculptures.
Internally, the building is likewise decorated with fine portals, classical corridors and an imposing staircase. The principal attraction is the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Manresa. The chapel is designed by the famous renaissance Italian architect Carapecchia. The Chapel of Our Lady of Manresa has a unique oval shape and has five altars, all of which with paintings by the Order's favourite painter, Favray.
The main alter is made of intricate marble and mosaic and it is adorned with silver reliquary bearing the relics of St. Calcedonius, an early Christian martyr.
A second chapel dedicated to St. Calcedonius, is found at the back of the Palace having a separate entrace through Vincenzo Dimech Street. This chapel was constructed by Fr. Domenico Calvi, the successor of Fr. Rosignoli.
The corridors are decked with a collection of paintings while the refectory hall is covered with colourful murals by Leonetti, commissioned by Fr. Calvi.
The Palace of Manresa became a Diocesan Seminary in 1858 which had been for many centuries in Mdina. For a brief period on 1921, the Seminary returned to Mdina until Palazzo Manresa was adapted and enlarged to accomodate the increasing number of students.
During the was, the building was damaged and was later restored and modernised.
When the Mater Admirabilis Teachers' College at Tal-Virtu' in Rabat was forced to close down in 1977, the Seminary moved to Tal-Virtu' while Palazzo manresa became the Archbishop's Curia. All the pastoral and administrative offices of the Archidiocese were transferred from the Bishop's Palace in Valletta to Palazzo Manresa in Floriana. The old Valletta Curia now houses the Church's tribunals.
Author: Lorenzo Zahra