THE CAPUCHIN CEMETERY AT FLORIANA

The Capuchin Church and Friary in Floriana, is a well known landmark. Below them in the crypt is a cemetery which was cut into rock between 1725 and 1730. The entire site was badly damaged during an air raid in April 1942. 

After World War II the Church and Friary were rebuilt, but the cemetery was left abandoned. After extensive reconstruction work, the cemetery was re-opened in October 1979, but the foundations of the new church differ from the old one, and therefore the crypt is smaller than before.

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The cemetery was renowned for the mummified corpses of Capuchin Friars, which stood in a row of niches along the walls of the crypt. Only one is there now, enclosed in a glass case, and is thought to be Brother Crispin Zammit of Gozo, who died in 1867, aged 79 years.

In the 19th century many visitors wrote their accounts of visits to the crypt, pointing it out as a place of special interest, even if they found the mummified skeletons of the monks disagreeable. These were removed about 1880, with the exception of Brother Crispin, and the 20 niches remain empty.

 

The book “The Letters of Private Wheeler” 1809 – 1828, has the following account for 19th February 1823:

 

They have a curious way of disposing of their dead. When one of their order dies, they have some method of preserving the body, it is then placed upright against the wall one above another like the shelves in a grocer’s shop, where you will see the tea canisters standing in ranks one above the other.

 

But as time destroys everything some of these monks are much altered since they were placed in the nitches round the apartment, some are leaning on one side as if tired of standing, others are looking down grinning at the persons who come to visit them, others are looking at you as if supplicating to be released from their standing position.

 

You would think some of them were or had been in the Navy or Army, for here is one minus a leg, then his next comrade wants an arm, while a great many seem to have studied Lord Chesterfield for they appeared as if they were bowing to you in the politest manner. Many have their arms held out as if wishing to shake hands, one on the lower tier seemed so pressing that one of my comrades could not pass without giving him a hearty shake, when off came the arm at the elbow joint. Fortunately it was not observed by the person who conducted us he having his attention drawn in another direction.”

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The Dingli family tomb was acquired by Sir Paolo Dingli on 20th September 1836. The large marble slab measuring 174cm x 90cm bears a Latin inscription, and is surmounted by the Dingli family coat of arms.

 

It records the deaths of:

Sir Paolo Dingli buried 15th October 1867.

His daughter Constantia Dingli, died in 1852.

His daughter Michelina, died 9th February 1860.

His wife Maria Anna, nee Xuereb, died 1st February 1886.

A still born son of Sir Adrian Dingli (the son of Sir Paolo), died in 1855.

Sir Adrian Dingli’s first wife Catherine, nee Mamo, died 19th January 1857.

Paul Dingli, son of Sir Adrian was buried on 20th June 1858.

 

Sir Paolo was probably the last member of his family to be buried at the Capuchin crypt.

 

There are two other persons named Dingli buried in the crypt:

Anna Dingli, of Floriana, buried 18th November 1868.

Maria Teresa Dingli, 9th March 1860.

 

Marble memorial tablets still exist for:

 

Santori family from Corsica, 1737

Scerri-Fenech family, 1751.

 

Others known to have been buried here but their tombs no longer exist include:.

 

Lieut-Colonel Francis Busett, 1854.

Carlo Fabrizi, buried 30th October 1846.

Formosa de Fremeaux family

J. C. H. Foucade, the French Consul, 1860.

Montanaro family

Giov.Nicolo dei Baroni Gauci

Reverend Dr. J. S. Mifsud

Dr. Gavino Patrizio Portelli, 1865, a physician.

Sant Manduca family

 

Some English and Irish were buried in the Crypt. The following names were taken from the Burial Register 1857 to 1872, but since the original was written in Italian, some names may have been incorrectly translated. The prohibition of burials in Valletta, Floriana, and the Three Cities came into effect in 1872, and the last recorded burial here is 24th June 1872.

 

ADRIEN, died 22nd August 1862, John Joseph Adrien, aged 32 years, at Forrest Hospital, Assistant Surgeon.

 

BAILEY, died 9th December 1863, Mary Bailey.

 

BLANCHISON, died 26th August 1861, Matilde Blanchison, a child.

 

BLANCHISON, died 1st November 1863, Enrico Blanchison, a child.

 

CARR, died 4th October 1853, James P.Carr, aged 30 years, 2nd Engineer. An accident occurred at sea within an hour's distance of Malta on board P & O Company Steamer Valetta. During his watch, with a heavy sea running the iron flooring of the platform being slippery, he was thrown between ship's side and cylinder, was injured and died at 9 p.m. A Post Mortem returned a verdict of accident.

 

CHARLETON, died 20th December 1859, Captain Edward Charleton.

 

CROCKFORD, died 2nd January 1872, Frederick Joseph Crockford, son of Henry and Frances M. Crockford. Born at Suez 9th June 1866.

 

CULLEL, died 14th June 1869, Martino Cullel.

 

CUTTER, died 30th April 1872, Giovanna Cutter.

 

DALZEL, died 27th August 1858, Carmela Dalzel.

 

DALZEL, died 15th February 1870, Maria Dalzel.

 

DAVIDSON, died 9th October 1867, Elsy Davidson.

 

DUNN, died 16th November 1865, Anna Dunn.

 

ENSON, died 20th February 1871, Frederica Enson.

 

FARRELL, died 2nd February 1861, Annie Farrell, aged 27 years. Wife of William Farrell.

 

FOY, died 8th March 1867, Elleanen Foy, widow of Michael Foy, aged 72 years. From Turlow, Co.Mayo, Ireland. Plaque placed by M.G.Ormsby, who she served for many years most faithfully and honestly.

 

GRAHAM, died 27th February 1857, Sir William Graham.

 

INOCANN, died 22nd September 1869, Elizabeth Inocann.

 

McCONNEL, died 11th May 1868, Isaac James McConnell.

 

McQUILLAM, died 16th August 1861, Margaret McQuillam, aged 31 years.

 

McQUILLAM, died 31st August 1861, George McQuillam, aged 1 years six months.

 

MEASON, died 23rd October 1863, Eliza L. Meason.

 

MILLART, died 27th September 1869, John Millart, a child.

 

MONFORT, died 22nd October 1857, Giuseppe Monfort.

 

MOORE, died 11th July 1868, Francesco A. MOORE. Born 9th January 1853. Young son of Carmela.

 

MOORE, died 6th October 1871, Carmela A. MOORE, aged 55 years.

 

NEWMAN, died 17th June 1861, Joseph Newman, a child.

 

NIELD, died 13th October 1861, Jessey Marony Nield, a child.

 

PARDO, died 25th February 1860, Michael Pardo.

 

PLOWMAN, died 19th September 1861, James Plowman, aged 72 years.

 

SULLIVAN, died 24th December 1860, Jno. Sullivan, aged 38 years, Sapper, 1st Company, Royal Engineers.

 

THROCKMORTON, died 20th June 1869, Muriel Throckmorton, aged 5 months. Daughter of Captain Throckmorton, 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers Regiment.

 

TOLY, died 31st January 1861, Serac Toly.

 

TONGUE, died 2nd March 1872, Marianna Tongue.

 

THORN, died 10th July 1866, William Thorn.

 

TURSE, died 16th July 1865, Enrico Vittorio Turse.

 

VANDELEUR, died 16th April 1869, N. N. Vandeleur, baby girl, daughter of Captain Vandeleur.

 

WATTS, died 21st February 1858, Mrs. Elisabeth Watts.

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