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STREET SHRINES: St Catherine found at Triq Santa Marija


To no surprise, at Zejtun we find a number of niches dedicated to the patron saint of the town, St Catherine of Alexandria.

There are old niches dating back to tens of years ago and other modern ones done by the feast enthusiast and located at the foot of a flagpole within the frontispiece at parapet wall level.

The first niche of St Catherine we will be describing in this series is located on the facade of a house at No 37, “Ave Katarina”, Triq Santa Marija, in the area commonly known as ir-Raħal ta’ Fuq.

Compared to other niches already described, this niche is considered to be larger in size.  In fact it is more than eleven courses high, which is equivalent to the height of one modern floor.

The niche is built in Baroque style and has Composite Order pilasters.  The recess of the niche where the statue is located is also recessed more than usual, in fact the first part of this recess is roofed with a barrel vault.

The statue itself is based on the statue of St Catherine found at the parish church with the saint having it pointer finger of the right hand pointing to heaven.  In the left hand the saint is holding the palm leaf as a symbol of the martyr and the sword.

At the lowest part of the niche one finds the indulgence marble plaque with the inscription:

SUA ECCE. FMA. M. FRA GAETANO PACEFORNO

ARCIVESCOVO DI RODI VESCOVO DI MALTA

CONCEDE INDULGENZA DI GIORNI 40

A CHI RECITA DE…. ….NTE PATER AVE

INNANZI QUESTA SANTA IMAGINE DI

S. CATERINA VERGINE E MARTRE

PER DECRETO …………… DECEMBRE 1866

This means that the niche was already constructed by the end of 1866.

Although the niche and statue are relatively in good condition, one has to remark about the modern lighting fixed to it, in particular the spotlight fixed right in front of the marble plaque.  It has been noted also that in several areas of the niche there are a considerable number of iron nails which when rusting could damage the masonry fabric of this shrine.  It is thus recommended that these should be removed diligently.

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