St Venera

Santa Venera – History

Santa Venera, located in the outer harbour region of Malta is about two kilometres away from the capital of Valletta and has an estimated population of almost 9000 residents. In 1918, Santa Venera became independent – it no longer formed part of Birkirkara. Nowadays Santa Venera is regarded as an urban area with a rural heart.

Santa Venera features some old buildings which left their historical mark on the place. Such places include the Wignacourt aqueduct which was used as a water supply.Along the road leading to Ħamrun through Attard onefinds the aqueduct built between 1611 and April, 1615, during the times of the Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, to supply water to the capital city Valletta. Across from the arches supporting this aqueduct is the famous palace known as Casa Leoni built by Gran Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena and finished around the year 1730. This palace, which today houses a ministry, is surrounded by a garden, which was one of the most beautiful gardens in Malta.

Up until 1798, Casa Leoni was used by reigning Grandmasters but after an uprising in the countryside against the French, it became one of the headquarters of the Maltese insurgents. The name derives from the four lion statues that adorn the façade and also because it formed part of the Vilhena coat of arms. The palace is characterized by gardens which were a replica of the San AntonGardens, but on a smaller scale. The palace has been used for diverse reasons, such as a ministry for home affairs and social policy and as a ministry for health and parliament secretary for the aged.

The gardens are a main attraction of the area dating back to the 18th century. Today, it is well kept by the local council and has many features. It specializes in citrus and ornamental trees, evergreen and flowering hedges, ponds and also fountains which where unfortunately vandalized. There is also a restored farmhouse that highlights a small collection of traditional farming tools and farmhouse furniture. Next to the farmhouse, one can find a fully functional water pump (sienja). There is also a cat sanctuary and a honey production facility together with a small museum sheltering honey making tools that where used in the past. The first church dedicated to Santa Venera was built in the year 1473 on a rocky plain hill between Birkirkara and Msida. In the year 1550 the church was enlarged slightly and repaired. The church was rebuilt from scratch and was completed in 1688. The Carmelite Friars have been running St Venera Churches since 1912. One of the people that were buried in the old church is Fra GakkinVivas, who was a Neapolitan hermit who in fact founded the hermitage of Santa Venera that was built in 1742 and adjacent to the church. Fra Vivas brought over Sicilian hermits from the order of San Kalogeru. Fra GakkinVivas was of a noble decent and found support from the Maltese nobility, amongst them were Rafael Dorell who was one of the ancestors of Lord (Strickland), a Former Maltese politician from the 1930s.

In the Church of Misraħ Santa Venera we have beautiful paintings and statues. One can Treasure the works of Mattia Preti and Giuseppi Cali’. At Santa Venera there are also a number of chapels and religious institutes such as the APA Institute built in 1954, the Sacred Heart chapel, which is apart of the CiniInstitute for homeless girls and the St Joseph Institute, which was dedicated in May 1916. At SantaVenera one also can find the ConservatorioVincenzo Bugeja whose foundation stone was laid in 1876. Due to the rapid increase in the population it was felt that a new parish church should be built and the foundation was built on 1990.

Last year, after 400 years since the acqueduct was being build to supply water to the capital city, MITA was built to supply technology to the Maltese Islands. This beautiful modern buliding, which looks like a luxurious cruise ship is in Railway Road c/w Żonqor Road.

Further down, in Triq il-Kappillan Mifsud, one still can treasure the remains of the railway wall.San Ġorġ Preca lived his last times of life in Triq Il-Parroċċa, Santa Venera.The current Mayor and Parish Priest are Mr Horace J. Anastasi and Fr. Joe Saliba, respectively.