Sant' Anton Palace and its Gardens in Ħ' Attard owe their origin and early development to the Knight Fra Antoine de Paule, a Frenchman from Provence, who was elected Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1623.
His detractors accused him of debauched habits and contested his election as contrived and simoniac. These charges, however, had little effect in Rome. In fact, Pope Urban VIII, in a brief dated 14 March, 1626, praised his piety and prudence. His Holiness also conferred on him the title of "Eminenza" thus placing him on an equal footing with the Cardinals and the other Ecclesiastical Electors of the Empire.
On the base of de Paule's mausoleum in St. John's Co-Cathedral, a Latin inscription describes him as a "Prince very dear and liberal who, when alive, was dearly loved for his qualities and, after death, was no less revered".
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that de Paule's lifestyle was lavish. While still a Knight of the Order, he had acquired a large plot of land near the village of Attard on which he built a country villa. This locality was nearer Valletta than Verdala Palace and therefore made it easier for his many friends to join him when he could get away from official duties.
The villa was planned on generous proportions so as to provide accommodation for a number of guests, apart from the domestic staff which included cooks, pantry-boys, food tasters, torch bearers, wig makers, a winder of clocks, doctors, as well as a baker engaged especially to bake black bread for the hunting dogs! Yet de Paule, after his election as Grand Master, decided to forgo the construction of a trireme galley in favour of enlarging the villa into a Palace which he named ‘San Anton’ after his patron saint, St Anthony of Padua.... For more information please follow the link below.