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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - St. Agatha's Catacombs

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St. Agatha's Catacombs

St Agatha Street, Rabat, Malta, Tel: +356 21 454 419;  www.stagathamalta.com/catacombs.html 

 Mondays -Fridays from 10.30am to 6.00pm; Saturdays from 10.30am to 14.30pm. 1st October to 31st March: Mondays to Fridays from 9.00am to 5.00pm; Saturdays from  9.00am to 1.00pm. Closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Adults €5.00;  senior citizens: €5.00; children: € 2.00

 

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Legend has it that St. Agatha fled her motherland to escape the wrath of Quintianus, governor of Catania whose amorous passes she persistently refused and found refuge in Malta. Here she interacted with the locals, teaching the Christian faith to the children and praying every day in what would later become known as “St. Agatha's Crypt”, until she decided to return to Catania to meet a cruel fate – that of having her breasts slashed off, to die in 251AD. Some thirty frescoes depict Saints and Martyrs, including thirteen which are of St. Agatha herself. Time has taken a mighty toll on these works of art, but these were lovingly and painstakingly restored by Giuseppe Calleja in 1881. The crypt communicates with an extensive network of catacombs, covering over 4000 square metres. A representative section is accessible to visitors accompanied by a guide.

Here you may observe the staple features of these subterranean cemeteries, including tombs of various types and agape tables. An important fresco in the Holy of Holies shows two doves on a scallop shell form, facing the God as the source of Life. The Greek letters Alpha ά and Omega ω indicate that God is the Beginning and the End.

 

Your ticket to the catacombs complex entitles you to a visit to the museum. The original collection belonged to Mgr. Joseph de Piro. Here you may view an extensive repository of rock specimens from around the globe and a miscellaneous collection of items, organised into broad categories: there is a large array of earthenware from antiquity, a display of liturgical items such as chalices, vestments and reliquaries, a section that deals with underwater archaeology, shark teeth and human

remains. There is also a mummified crocodile, statuettes and other artefacts from ancient Egypt. An extensive collection of coins includes specimens from the Carthaginian and Punic era, ancient Rome and the Ottoman empire.