Malta is undoubtably an island known for its rich history, but there is a huge chance that you have never heard of this underground church discovered in World War II in the heart of Bormla.
What is a troglodytic church?
A troglodytic church is a church built within a cave or dug underground. Most of these churches were built as a symbol of the entombment and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This particular troglodytic church in Bormla is built two storeys underground. It is believed by historian John Vella, that the church goes back to the eighth century, during the late Byzantine era
How was it discovered?
The church was hidden away and undiscovered for a long time. That is until a local boy lost his shoes during World War II air raids around Bormla, and went out looking for them.
A group of people ended up helping him, and they soon discovered this hole in the ground. At first, they thought it was a well, but they soon realised it was a historical place of interest.
The church was consecrated and hidden away even as far back as the 18th century. It is believed that it went on to be deconsecrated as bigger churches were being built.
The area around it is known as Santa Elena, as the church was originally dedicated to her. In fact, the underground church is found near the well-known Santa Elena Gate.
However, historians later discovered that there was a Marian re-dedication of the church, as a Latin inscription declaring the Madonna’s divine motherhood was found. There is speculation that it was re-dedicated specifically to Il-Madonna tal-Bahrin. This is because there was a Roman Harbour down by the hill where the church is found. Sailors used to come back from a long journey and engrave a little symbol on the walls as a sign of gratitude for coming back home safely!
Legends and myths surrounding the troglodytic church
Such an eerie, indiscernible and hidden place is bound to be associated with many legends and myths. In fact, a lot of people who love to explore haunted places have often paid a visit to this underground church for its alleged ghost sighting stories.
There is also a small tunnel found within the walls of church, where legend goes that this tunnel leads to Marsaxlokk. On top of that, there is also a legend stating that Saint Paul left Malta from the port down by the church.
Have you ever visited this underground church?