chapter  XVI

The Augustinians at Malta: 1413

ByAnthony Luttrell

The religious orders established themselves at a remarkably late date on an island which was being converted from Islam at least as early as the beginning of the thirteenth century, 1 An endowment made in 1362 for the foundation of a house on Malta was evaded by the Benedictines of Catania on the grounds that the island was too distant, that travel to it was dangerous and that Sicilian monks could not understand its language; the Benedictine brethren thus acquired property on Malta though they never had a community there. 2 A hospital and a church at Rabat, the suburb of Malta’s main fortified town of Mdina, had both been dedicated to St. Francis by 1372 when a Franciscan was appointed by the king to be rector of the hospital. 3 The Augustinians had a convent in Malta by 1413; 4 the Carmelites were probably on the island by 1441; 5 the Dominicans seem to have rejected a legacy of 1431 XVI-298which would have endowed them with the church of St. Mark at Rabat if they would establish a community there, 6 but they were in Rabat from about 1450 onwards; 7 and a bequest of 1492 provided for the building of what became the convent of the Observant Franciscans at Rabat. 8 Some time before 1479, when their convent of San Pietro in Mdina was in ruins, Benedictine nuns were also established in Malta. 9