Constructed to elevate the souls of men and women to heaven, the Church of Our Lady of Pilar was commissioned by the Spanish Knights to praise God and the Virgin Mary and inspire all those who entered it. After Auberge d’ Aragon was built, the need for a chapel to serve the langue was strongly felt, and some knights took up the mantle to sate their needs.

Built in the 1670s the chapel quickly saw the burial of its most generous benefactor, the Bailiff Fra Inniquez de Ayerba in 1691, but only two years later, disaster struck the chapel as parts of it were damaged by the earthquake of 1693. Under the patronage of Grandmaster Ramon Perellos y Roccaful, the church was built anew. Resident architect and engineer Romano Carapecchia was entrusted with the task of remodelling the chapel. His distinct taste and talent is reflected in the genius with which he managed to include all the features required by canon law in building new churches. Faced with the challenge of building a functional yet stylish building on land that was quite restrictive, he delivered greatly, leaving us today with a gem of High Baroque architecture.

After the Knights Hospitallier left the island, the chapel and its treasures, including the titular painting by Stefano Erardi passed on to the state, as it remains till this day. Although no longer serving the Aragonese Knights, the chapel continues to play an important role in the community, having for years been both a place for the teaching of catholic doctrine, and a school run by the Franciscan Sisters of Valletta. In 2007 it was entrusted to Heritage Malta to ensure its upkeep and safeguard its future.

Knisja Madonna Tal-Pilar

Open by appointment

Valletta, Malta

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Getting Here

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The closest bus stop is 15 minutes by walk. Interested in getting here by public transport?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions about the Knisja Madonna Tal-Pilar.

Although the chapel is a heritage site, curated by Heritage Malta, it is still a functioning church. It can be rented out for liturgical sermons or other funtions (within the agreed contract) by contacting our head office and speaking with our Business Development team. In the past the local communities have also made use of its facilities.

We always do our best effort to ensure that the heritage and treasures that have been enstrusted to us are always available to the public. However, some sites are closed and do not have daily opening hours. In cases like this open days have been a great way to give the opportunity for anyone that is interested to see and experience these sites. If one wishes to enter the site for a specific reason, for example research purposes, they should not hesitate to contact us so we can aid them in any way possible.

The cult of Our Lady of Pilar originates from the area of Aragon in Spain. The mystical phenomenon happened to the Apostle Saint James the Greater while he was on a converting mission in what is today Spain on the River Erbo, near the present city of Zaragoza, the capital city of Aragon. Our Lady appeared to him dressed all in white holding Christ child to her chest, while she was high upon a marble pillar, surrounded by angels. He was asked not be discouraged and continue his mission to convert the population to the Christian faith.

In this chapel only one known burial exist and belongs to the Bailiff Fra Inniquez de Ayerba, and Arogonese Knight. He expressed the wish to be laid to rest in the chapel after his death, after serving as one of its main benefactors. The burial took place after his death in 1691 and is located in front of the main altar.

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