Legends & Myths of Malta
Malta's mysterious, 7000 years of history together with it's strong religious background makes it the perfect backdrop to a number of legends, myths and folk tales. Most of the stories find their foundations in truth and historical facts, with each story being embellished by every generation that narrated it. Other stories were used as explanations of different phenomena that people could not explain. Here are some of our favourite myths & legends...
St. Paul & The Venomous Viper
This is legend is probably the best known amongst the locals, as it is about Malta's Patron Saint and can be found in the Bible. The story says that when St. Paul was shipwrecked in Malta, he was gathering wood to make himself a fire, as he lit the fire a viper was driven out by the heat and bit him. The Maltese, who were very superstitious people, expected St. Paul to die of poisoning, however, he simply shook the snake off into the fire and no harm came to him. It is said that from that day on, all snakes and scorpions found in Malta became harmless and non-poisonous.
The Legend of Wied Speranza
This legend can be attributed to small chapel which can be found on the outskirts of the village of Mosta. According to the legend, one day a young girl and her sisters were in the fields looking after a herd of sheep when they noticed a group of Turks approaching them. The girls started running away, but the youngest girl couldn't keep up because she had a limp. The girl found a cave, hid inside and started praying to Our Lady to save her. The story goes that Our Lady immediately intervened and sent a spider to weave a web over the opening of the cave. When the Turkish invaders arrived near the cave entrance, they saw the web intact and assumed that nobody had been inside. Since Our Lady saved the girl's life, she got permission to build a chapel on top of the cave where she hid.
The Legend of Il-Maqluba & Filfla
Il-Maqluba is a large sinkhole found in the village of Qrendi, it is believed to be created around the year 1343, when Malta experienced one of its most severe winter storms and possibly even an earthquake. The people at the time probably could not think of a plausible explanation for the sinkhole, and so this legend was created. The story goes that a group of bad and corrupt people lived together in a hamlet. God was so angry at their behaviour that he decided that the land swallow up the village sparing no one, in turn, angels were then dispatched to dispose of the "bad village" by dumping it in the sea - this is how Filfla was created.
The Maltese Flag
This legend is quite controversial because some historians claim it is true, while others claim that it is impossible, but that is what a legend is by definition. I decided to include it because it is one of the legends which I learnt at school which I remember to this very day! The legend goes that around the year 1090AD, the Norman Count Roger of Sicily came to Malta to expel the Arab rulers. After a short battle, the Arabs surrendered and the locals recognised Count Roger as their leader. The locals then asked Count Roger to give them their colours, so he gave them his red and white chequered shield, he told them the white is to represent their strong religious beliefs, and the red was to represent their patriotic hearts!
As for the cross on our flag - the story behind that is more modern and definitely not a legend! In fact the cross is the George Cross, awarded to the people of Malta on the 13th September 1942, "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history."
The red and white Maltese flag was adopted as the official flag of Malta when Malta gained independence from Britain, on the 21st September 1964.
If you like the above legends, and would like to visit the places where they occurred, please feel free to drop us a line and let us know how we can help you.