Citadel - Triq San Ġużepp and the Chapel dedicated to St. Joseph


Citadel - Triq San Ġużepp and the Chapel dedicated to St. Joseph

St. Joseph Street is located in the Citadel on the island of Gozo. This street hosts a chapel, also dedicated to St. Joseph and it was the first Chapel to be dedicated to this Saint on the island of Gozo. It was built during the munificence of Bishop Baldassare Cagliares (1615-1633) in 1625 and according to historians it was built on the site of another chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari.

It is interesting to note that in the report of Pietro Dusica entitled "the Apostolic Visitation" in 1575 it is written that, "people flocked to that chapel with utmost devotion."

The chapel has a simple facade with a typical round window and an arched ceiling. Bishop Cagliares, who also built Palazzo Cagliares, adorned the chapel with a beautiful altarpiece representing the flight of Saint Joseph to Egypt. This work is attributed to Filippo Paladino, a late Mannerist artist. However the painting we now see inside the chapel is a copy made in 1980. The original is housed in the Cathedral Museum.

In January of the year 1693 an earthquake destroyed parts of the chapel including the roof. Although it was not long before repair works commenced on the ruins of the chapel, the chapel was by time abandoned. Mass wasn't celebrated any more not even on the day of the feast of St. Joseph.

Sir Harry Luke, the Governor of Malta in the 1930s started restoration works on many architectural jewels that were historically significant. This included the Chapel of St. Joseph. But, for some strange reason, after the chapel was completely restore, it was again abandoned and fell victim of vandals.

The day after the feast of St. Mary in the year 1973, a group of men decided that they should do something about the abandoned chapel and restore it to its former glory. The group of men included Fr. Tony Mercieca, the seminarians Leli Magro and Toni Spiteri, Ġużeppi and Vitor Vella and a group of alter boys from the Cathedral. They cleaned the chapel thoughtfully so that proper restoration works could commence. The sculptor Toni Camilleri made a new alter for the chapel, the design of which was very close to the original. Parts of the old alter were incorporated in the new one as well. People of the locality started showing interest in the restoration and donated many items. The artist Ċensu Cordina recreated the titular painting as the original had been exhibited in the Cathedral Museum. Pawlu Cauchi donated a set of marble bowls for the holy water and a set of large candle holders. Other people donated paintings such as a set of the Via Sagra and ornate lanterns.

On the 19th of March 1975, the chapel was reopened for the public. Nowadays the chapel is usually opened during the feast of St. Joseph.