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Architecture: Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel


On entering Zejtun, next to the large palace in Misraħ Carlo Diacono, there is a small but interesting chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel.

This is a private chapel annexed to Aedes Danielis palace and built by the Noble Enrico Testaferrata, Jurat of the City of Valletta in 1760 and blessed by Bishop Alpheran de Bussan.  Can. Rev. Joe Abela refers to this chapel as “No other chapel at Zejtun surpasses this basilica in dignity and riches.”

Most of the decorations of this chapel were done by Emanuel Testaferata Bonici, Marquis of San Vincenzo Ferreri.  He embellised it with costly marble works and commissioned renowned artists to paint the dome and other paintings in the chapel.  It was him who made the request to Pope Leo XIII to elevate the chapel with the title of basilica.  This honour awarded to the chapel is described in Latin on the marble inscription found on the main door which states: “Affiliated to the Most Holy Latheran Basilica, on the initiative of the generous Emmanuele Testaferrata Bonici, Marquis of San Vincenzo Ferreri on 8 December 1888.”

On the inside another inscription states: “Pietro Paolo, Bishop of Malta, solemnly consecrated this basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Good Counsel, and the three altars, on 8 December, 1891, and chose the same day on which the anniversary of this consecration should be commemorated.”  There are a number of other inscriptions within the chapel, referring to various decorations and embellishments made by different generations of the Testaferata Bonici family.  The chapel is also decorated by several paintings, besides those decorating the dome.  The canvas of S. Guiseppe Labre’ was painted by Giuseppe Calleja, whereas Giuseppe Cali’ painted those of St Vincent Ferreri and St. Anthony of Padua.

The main facade of the church is built in Baroque style, having a central bay emphasized by the square headed doorway crowned by the stone carved Pontiff’s coat of arms.  The facade is flanked by Composite double pilasters.

A giant segmental headed frontispiece with a stone carved medallion depicting the Virgin Mary of Good Counsel, crowns the facade.  Up to some years ago, on the sides of this frontispiece there were two statues sculptured in stone, one of St Peter and the other of St Paul, and at the top of the frontispiece there was the basilica cross.  The chapel is also adorned with a splendid set of bells.

Unfortunately much of the wealth which decorated the chapel had been stolen some decades ago.  Since this is a private chapel no photographs showing the chapel’s beautiful interior can be shared, however you can visit the chapel during the novena and feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel which is celebrated annually from mid-April to the 26th April, the latter being the liturgical feast day.

Reference:

ABELA, CAN. J. The Zejtun Parish through the ages. Midsea Books Ltd, 2006

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